Jack, Ian 1923-2008 (Ian Robert James Jack)

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Jack, Ian 1923-2008 (Ian Robert James Jack)


See index for CA sketch: Born December 5, 1923, in Edinburgh, Scotland; died September 3, 2008. Literary historian, librarian, book collector, educator, critic, and author. Ian Jack loved literature for its own sake, and his passion for the written word and the master practitioners of its artistry led him in several directions throughout his life. As a boy he collected books, especially early editions, and this hobby became a lifelong avocation. As a lecturer at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he took on the additional role of college librarian. As a literary scholar Jack indulged a special interest in English poetry, especially the work of Emily and Charlotte Brontë and Robert Barrett Browning. He devoted much time to editing various collections of the works of all three authors, while maintaining an active academic career and a substantial pace as an author of literary history and criticism. Jack taught at Pembroke College from 1961 to 1989, but he continued to lecture all over the world, including early appearances at the University of Chicago and the University of California in Berkeley. He also served as the president of several literary societies devoted to the work of Charles Lamb, Browning, the Brontës, and others. Jack was selected as the Warton Lecturer in Poetry of the British Academy in 1967; he was elected an honorary fellow of his alma mater, Merton College, Oxford, in 1998. In addition to his editorial work, Jack published several volumes of original scholarship. Augustan Satire: Intention and Idiom in English Poetry, 1660-1750 (1952) is an introduction to the work of John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and several of their seventeenth- and eighteenth-century colleagues. English Literature, 1815-1832 (1963) is a weighty contribution to the highly respected Oxford History of English Literature. Keats and the Mirror of Art (1967) explores an often-neglected facet of the poet's legacy: his poetic references to painting and sculpture, the most recognizable of which may be his "Ode to a Grecian Urn." In The Poet and His Audience (1984) Jack reflects not only upon the influence of the poet on his or her readers, but on the reciprocal impact of readers upon the poet and the importance of audience response to the poet's creative muse.



Erskine-Hill, Howard, and Richard A. McCabe, editors, Presenting Poetry: Composition, Publication, Reception; Essays in Honour of Ian Jack, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1995.


Times (London, England), September 22, 2008, p. 51.