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David Daiches


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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Biography; Introduction: A Personal Reflection; Michael Lister ; From Two Worlds to God and the Poets: David Daiches' Role as Critical Mediator Martin Bidney; David Daiches and the Idea of a New University; Was Too: Time Passed With David Daiches; Longer Days; Bridge Building; God and the Little Poets: On David Daiches and Muriel Spark; David Daiches and John Milton; Repaying a Debt: David Daiches and Scottish Literature; David Daiches on Scottish Literature; Scottish Literature at the Crossroads: An Encouraging Voice; 'One City' of Fragments: Robert Louis Stevenson's Second (Person) City Through David Daiches' Personal Eye; Destinations of Choice: Stevenson at Vailima, Hardy at Max Gate; Daiches and the Modern; David Daiches' The Novel and the Modern World (1939) and the Reclamation of Joseph Conrad's Literary Reputation; The Allusive Hume: With Specific Reference to John Milton and Matthew Prior; David Daiches: The Family Background; Co-Ordinate Points: A Portrait of David Daiches; David Daiches: A Founding Dean of the University of Sussex; Le Bon David: A Tribute to a Unique Scholar, Critic, and Literary Historian; Looking into 'Mezeray'; David Daiches and Scotland; 'A Very Strange Plant': Carlyle, John Mitchel, and the Political Legacy of Swift; Two Medieval Hebrew Devotional Poems: Convention, Evaluation, and 'Platonic' vs. 'Metaphysical' Poetry; Separation and Synthesis: Understanding the Two Worlds of David Daiches and Jane Austen; David Daiches: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography, 1923-2006; Index.

About the Author

William Baker is Presidential Research Professor, Department of English/ University Libraries, Northern Illinois University. He co-edits The Year's Work in English Studies (OUP). Michael Lister is a writer and independent researcher who lives in Edinburgh. He regularly reviews works on Scottish literature for several literary journals, and has published various articles about David Daiches.


"David Daiches had an enormous impact on Scottish literature throughout his long life, even though all but six years of his professional career was spent furth of Scotland. His work (perhaps most centrally The Paradox of Scottish Culture (1964)) was an inspiration to many in the field, and the near thirty years of retirement spent in his beloved Edinburgh made him seem the Scottish academic institution that he had never been in reality. Not that that was his choice: Alan Riach's sly sharp poem in this collection shows how Daiches' desire to make Scottish literature central to the Scottish universities helped to lose him a job at least one of them ('Dear boy, can't you see ?/ There are English girls taught here !/That must never be !'. Pertinently, Riach currently holds what to this day is the only established chair of Scottish literature in Scotland. Despite much progress towards self-respect for our national literature, there are still places in the Scottish university system where the brilliance of a Daiches might find itself at a disadvantage by virtue of this specialism. Prophets without honour have always been a Scottish specialism, if not uniquely so. Insofar as this is no longer true, David Daiches did much to help bring it about, and this is reason enough for a collection in his honour. Nonetheless, A Celebration is rather unfocused: more of a ceilidh than a seminar. It is not a festschrift, though some of its essays could find a place in one; it is not a biography, though some of its reminiscences belong in one; it makes little attempt to define Daiches' achievement or its limits. Two Worlds (1956), Daiches' own autobiography of his Edinburgh childhood, deservedly has a central place, and there is some allusion to the doubleness of his experience as a Jew in Scotland rendering him alert to the many doublenesses of Scottish culture: but anyone expecting a discussion of Daiches' vis- -vis G. Gregory Smith or Karl Miller will be disappointed. A number of the authors want to claim him centrally as a Scottish critic; a number understandably stress his contribution to English literature. Yet the man himself, the centre of his achievement, remains elusive. Even at the end of his long and distinguished life, his 90th birthday was celebrated by literary Scotland mainly because BBC journalist David Stenhouse made a proposal to the Association of Scottish Literary Studies to do so: the original impulse did not come from the academy. In life, Daiches never quite became the literary lion whom all adore; he eluded some of the marks of distinction or recognition that might have been expected. The Masson Professor at Edinburgh in the 1980s, Wallace Robson, achieved an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Daiches is still without one, though his father Salis has an entry. This collection celebrates David Daiches, but it does not try to define his importance or evaluate his achievement: and that is what needs to be done." --International Review of Scottish Studies

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