23 ene. 2006

On a more serious note, our close friend the legendary Hispanist John Kronik passed away yesterday. Like Marjorie Perloff, he escaped with his family from Vienna in the Nazi era and came to the U.S., --where he made a name for himself in academia He is perhaps best known for a series of brilliant articles on Galdós in the 1970s and 1980s, and for being the editor of the PMLA, opening it up to scholarship about Spanish and Latin American Literature rather than merely a bastion for English Professors.

Famously, he wrote only articles, no books, substituting quality for quantity. A rigorous prose stylist in both English and Spanish, he showed a rare analytic ability, coming into his own with a nice synthesis of New Criticism and the structuralist and poststructuralist ideas coming into the forefront at Cornell. Unlike other critics who merely applied theory, he actually used it intelligently and subtly, with a rare flair and tact. He was a gifted teacher who turned out many of the best scholars in the field, giving a series of NEH Seminars on metafiction. My wife studied with him at Cornell, both as an undergraduate and graduate. He was an informal mentor to me as well. He concealed the extent of his illness from most people. We had no idea he had had several rounds of chemo. He still travelled and lived life to the fullest until the very end.