The Death of Richard Poirier

Sounds like a fabulous French novel from the ’40s, does it not?

Unfortunately, it marks the real death of Richard Poirier, acclaimed literary critic and founder of Library of America.  He was 83.

Here’s a sampling of the lovely obit from the New York Times:

Richard Poirier, a prolific and populist cultural critic who founded a literary journal, Raritan: A Quarterly Review, and who was a founder of Library of America, the nonprofit publisher of American classics, died in Manhattan on Saturday. He was 83.

The cause was injuries suffered in a fall in his home, said a friend, the poet Frederick Seidel.

Mr. Poirier (pronounced to rhyme with “warrior”) was an old-fashioned man of letters — a writer, an editor, a publisher, a teacher — with a wide range of knowledge and interests. He was a busy reviewer for publications from The New York Review of Books to The London Review of Books, and his reviews could sting.

My favorite quote:  “He really believed that literature was something that could be analyzed and critisized in ordinary language.  He believed you could be playful and rigorous.  And he thought that the academy had cut off criticism from a lot of ordinary readers.” That is so true, Mr. Poirier.

Read the rest of the obit here.


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