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Mark Van Doren

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The Resume

    (June 13, 1894-December 10, 1972)
    Born in Hope, Illinois
    Poet, educator, and literary critic
    Professor of English literature at Columbia University
    Literary editor (1924-28) and film critic (1935-38) for The Nation
    Published 'Collected Poems 1922-1938' (1939) and 'Collected and New Poems, 1924-63' (1963)
    Wrote the verse play 'The Last Days of Lincoln' (1959)
    Edited 'An Anthology of World Poetry' (1928) and 'The Oxford Book of American Prose' (1932)
    Non-fiction works include 'Henry David Thoreau: A Critical Study' (1916), 'The Poetry of John Dryden' (1920), 'Shakespeare' (1939), 'The Liberal Education' (1943), 'The Noble Voice' (1946), 'Nathaniel Hawthorne' (1949), 'Introduction to Poetry' (1951), and 'Insights into Literature' (1968)
    Father of Charles Van Doren

Why he might be annoying:

    He originally planned to teach only until he had established himself as a writer.
    He came from such a large and prominent literary family that Dorothy Parker quipped that to treat her insomnia, 'I have even tried counting Van Dorens.'
    A critic wrote, 'He produced a large but uneven body of poetry and does not seem to have realized when he was writing well and when he was not.'

Why he might not be annoying:

    He was married to Dorothy Graffe for 50 years.
    He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1940 -- a year after his brother Carl won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
    The university magazine called him 'the embodiment of the Platonic ideal of a Columbia professor.'
    His students at Columbia included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, John Berryman, Lionel Trilling, and Thomas Merton.
    He said, 'I have always had the greatest respect for students. There is nothing I hate more than condescension—the attitude that they are inferior to you. I always assume they have good minds.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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Year In Review:

    In 2022, Out of 21 Votes: 9.52% Annoying