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Title: Francis J.H. Letters (1897-1964): Poet and Scholar
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S  (author)
Publication Date: 1988
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Abstract: "...his enthusiasm for, and delight in, things of the mind and spirit... made him almost a legendary figure of the devoted scholar..." (Sir Robert Madgwick, p. 1 of "For Service to Classical Studies", 'Essays in Honour of Francis Letters' [1966]). The subject of this review article who was born in Queensland, graduated from the University of Sydney in 1918 with honours in Classics and English, practised as a barrister in New South Wales for eleven years, became foundation member of staff in Classics and English at the New England University College in 1938, and was granted a D. Litt (honoris causa) in 1956 by the National University of Ireland. In 1985 he was included in 'The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature' (p.415), while in the following year Les A. Murray printed two of his poems, "Humiliation" (p.135), and "The Inglorious Milton" (p.224) in his selection, 'Anthology of Australian Religious Poetry'. Yet none of this anticipates his sharp and insight-filled wartime books, 'Virgil' (1942, etc.), 'An Introduction to Thomas Mann' (1944), and 'Joris Karl Huysmans: A Study' (1945), his essay collection, 'In a Shaft of Sunlight' (1948), or the 1940s stream of timeless poems originally appearing in such quarterlies as 'Southerly' and 'Meanjin'. The following decade saw an equally distinctive and incisive set of papers - "Psychologists and Tact" ('Twentieth Century', 1952), "Faust and the Divine Comedy Today" (op.cit., 1953), "Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress" (1954), "English at the University" (1955) and "Roy Campbell, Poet and Matador" (1957), all appearing in the 'Catholic Weekly'. His taut 'Festschrift', posthumously issued and sponsored by the Australian Humanities' Research Council and the University of New England, was opened by a Latin verse dedication from Alan Treloar, referring to these many qualities and achievements, to his distinction as a teacher and to his prophetic quality as a critic, to the fullness of the life lived and to the piety for which he would be remembered. All of this is scant preparation for the freshness, zest and masculinity of the writings themselves.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Notes & Furphies (21), p. 7-11
Publisher: Association for the Study of Australian Literature
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 0156-806X
Field of Research (FOR): 190499 Performing Arts and Creative Writing not elsewhere classified
190302 Professional Writing
189999 Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 940399 International Relations not elsewhere classified
950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft)
950404 Religion and Society
HERDC Category Description: C2 Non-Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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