Nadel, Ira Bruce 1943-

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NADEL, Ira Bruce 1943-

PERSONAL: Born July 22, 1943, in Rahway, NJ; son of Isaac David and Francis (Sofman) Nadel; married Susan Matties, June 5, 1966 (died, February 23, 1975); married Josephine Margolis (a lawyer), July 4, 1976; children: (second marriage) Ryan Martin, Dara Vanessa. Education: Rutgers University, B.A., 1965, M.A., 1967; Cornell University, Ph.D. (English), 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Theater studies and parallels between visual and verbal presentation.

ADDRESSES: Home—646 W. 26th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5H 4H6. Office—#397-1873 East Mall, Department of English, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Scholar. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, assistant professor, 1970-76, associate professor, 1977-85, professor of English, 1985—, chair, Department of English graduate program, 1992-95. Coeditor, David Mamet Review; advisory board member, The Journal of Modern Literature and Joyce Studies Annual; editorial board member, English Literature in Transition, and Autobiographical/Biographical Studies.

MEMBER: Canadian Association of University Teachers of English, Modern Language Association of America (chairman of Non-Fictional Prose Division, 1987; chair of Discussion Group on Biography and Autobiography, 1989; executive, Division on Methods of Literary Research, 1991-94), Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada (president, 1980-82), James Joyce Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Canada Council fellowship, 1975-76; leave fellowship from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, 1982; Lowell Prize nomination, Modern Language Association, 1985, for Biography: Fiction, Fact and Form; Killam research fellowship, 1989-90; NEH Travel Fellowship, 1990; Beinecke fellowship, Yale, April-May, 1991; Killam Research Prize, 1992; Mellon fellowship, University of Texas, 1996; Royal Society of Canada fellow, 1996; University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography, 1996; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council research grant, 1997.


(Editor, with F. S. Schwartzbach, and contributor) Victorian Artists and the City, Pergamon (Elmsford, NY), 1980.

Jewish Writers of North America, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981.

Biography: Fiction, Fact and Form, Macmillan (London, England), 1984.

(Editor) Victorian Fiction: A Collection of Essays from the Period, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor) Victorian Biography: A Collection of Essays from the Period, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor, with S. Neuman) Gertrude Stein and the Making of Literature, Northeastern University Press (Boston, MA), 1988.

(Editor, with Peter Buitenhuis) Orwell: A Reassessment, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.

Joyce and the Jews: Culture and Texts, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1989.

(Editor) The Letters of Ezra Pound to Alice Corbin Henderson, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1993.

Leonard Cohen: A Life in Art, ECW Press (East Haven, CT), 1994.

Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1996.

(Editor and author of introduction and notes) The Dead Secret, Wilkie Collins, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(Editor) The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor and contributor) The Education of Henry Adams, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor and author of notes and introduction) Wilkie Collins, Iolani, or, Tahiti As It Was: A Romance, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1999.

Tom Stoppard: A Life, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2002, published as Double Act: A Life of Tom Stoppard, Palgrave Macmillan (London, England), 2002.


Victorian Novelists before 1885, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.

Victorian Novelists after 1885, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.

Victorian Poets before 1850, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1984.

Victorian Poets after 1850, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.

(With John Stasny) The Victorian Muse: Selected Criticism and Parody of the Period, 39 volumes, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1986.

Contributor to numerous literary collections, including Assessing the 1984 Ulysses, edited by G. Sandulescue and C. Hart, and Essays on Canadian Writing. Contributor to literary journals, including Victorian Poetry, Mosaic, Journal of Modern Literature, Paideuma, Modern Drama, and Joyce Studies Annual. Editor, with W. E. Fredeman, Journal of Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic Studies, 1987-1990.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Ezra!: A Literary Life of Ezra Pound, Palgrave, 2004; David Mamet (biography); editing Ezra Pound: Tthe Early Poetry, for Penguin.

SIDELIGHTS: Ira Bruce Nadel is the author and editor of various works of ninteenth-and twentieth-century literature. He is particularly interested in the Victorian era, nonfiction prose (most notably biography), and the novel. He once told CA: "My concern with the relationship between literature and society has been sharpened by my interest in the evolution of biography as a literary genre. Through various comparative studies I have been exploring the link between an actual and written life as well as the importance of imagination in writing the narrative of another. The crucial question, however, may not be why one writes a biography, but what use is it?"

In Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen, which was deemed "a definitive biography of Canada's best-known poet and angst-ridden singer" by Kerry Diotte of the Edmonton Sun, Nadel lays bare the life of this legendary singer, songwriter, poet, and novelist. His biography chronicles the artist's life from his early years in Montreal through his experiences in London, Nashville, Los Angeles, and New York. Nadel gathered first-hand information for Cohen's biography from interviews with Cohen and his friends and family, and by thoroughly researching Cohen's correspondence. Arnie Keller, writing for the Globe and Mail, noted that "Cohen is a relentless keeper of letters, drafts, and notebooks, and Nadel had good access to them and to Cohen. That may have been too much of a good thing, however....The result is one-sided, too much Leonard Cohen's own take on Leonard Cohen." Similary, Morton Ritts wrote for Maclean's, "In Nadel, who documents rather than analyzes, [Cohen] has found less a biographer than a disciple." Diotte found the most impressive aspect of the biography to be the way in which Nadel "explores what mind frame the singer was in when many of his important songs and poems were penned." He added that Nadel's book is "exhaustive in its exploration . . . [and] is also exhausting. It is dryly written in straight chronological style . . . Yet, until we're treated to Cohen's autobiography, this is as good as it gets." Margot Mifflin critiqued the book for Entertainment Weekly as "a critically sharp, information-rich biography." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked, "The chief virtues of the book are its thorough research and its honesty."

In Tom Stoppard: A Life Nadel chronicles the life of Sir Thomas Stoppard, considered by many the greatest living English-language playwright. Stoppard is the author of more than twenty-five plays produced since 1965 and has won a plethora of awards, including several Tony Awards and an Oscar Award for the film Shakespeare in Love. Barry X. Miller commented inLibrary Journal that Nadel's work represents "the best and most complete Stoppard biography available."

Nadel, who spent four years researching his subject, was granted several interviews with Stoppard, along with permission to peruse his papers. The biography begins with Stoppard's birth in the Czech Republic in 1937 and traverses his childhood in Singapore and India to his arrival in England where, in 1967, he experienced his first great theatrical success with Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead. The biography continues through Stoppard's successes on English and American stages, through to the trilogy, "Coast of Utopia," that opened in London in 2002. Adam Langer of Book quoted Nadel as saying, "The wonderful thing about Stoppard's plays is that it's the truth and not accuracy that he's most interested in.... Stoppard may not believe in the accuracy of biography, but it can be truthful, and that's what I'm trying to do."

A reviewer for the Complete Review Web site commented that Nadel's biography of Stoppard "is pleasantly straightforward: largely descriptive covering a great deal of Stoppard's personal and professional life without too much hypothesizing or analysis about what possibly motivates and moves the artist." The reviewer explained that, in what appears to be the first full-length study of this artist, Nadel presents Stoppard's life, work, and even personal opinions as being a double act (hence the British title). The same reviewer was impressed with Nadel's chronological methodology as he documents "each next step and work. It gets messy along the way—screenplays (often unproduced for great lengths of time) litter the way.... Still, overall Nadel stays in track and works his way through most everything of importance." The critic did fault the biography for "too little" about Stoppard's personal life and relationships, some repetition, and some "rough jumps in the narrative." Overall, however, he felt the book "reads easily and quickly, and there are few lulls. Forays into Stoppard's Jewish heritage go somewhat astray," he commented. However, Langer found this element of the biography especially vivid. "On the whole," commented the critic for the Complete Review, "Nadel presents Stoppard's life well." He called the book "a fine read," and said "we learned much about Stoppard from it that we didn't know. We certainly recommend it to anyone interested in Stoppard."



Book, July-August, 2002, Adam Langer, "Creating Drama," review of Tom Stoppard: A Life, p. 27.

Booklist, September 15, 1996, Mike Tribby, review of Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen, p. 204.

Edmonton Sun, November 17, 1996, Kerry Diotte, "Biography of Leonard Cohen Long on Detail, Short on Flair."

Entertainment Weekly, October 25, 1996, Margot Mifflin, review of Various Positions, p. 108.

Globe and Mail, November 23, 1996, Arnie Keller, review of Various Positions, p. D12.

Library Journal, July, 2002, Barry X. Miller, review of Tom Stoppard, p. 83.

Maclean's, December 2, 1996, Morton Ritts, review of Various Positions, p. 91.

Publishers Weekly, August 12, 1996, review of Various Positions, p. 7.


Complete Review, (October 8, 2002), review of Double Act: A Life of Tom Stoppard.

Salon, (October 8, 2002), George Rafael, review of Tom Stoppard, September 10, 2002.

University Press of Florida , (October 8, 2002), description of Joyce and the Jews.