Thursday, February 11, 2021

William H. Gass

Born (1924) in Fargo, North Dakota, William H(oward) Gass grew up in Warren, Ohio, and graduated from Kenyon College in 1947, after serving two years as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell in1954, specializing in the theory of metaphor, and then taught philosophy at Purdue from 1954 to 1969, when he moved to Washington University in St. Louis, where in 1979 he became David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities. Interested primarily in language and aesthetics, Gass began writing difficult fiction; he said of his first book, the novel Omensetter's Luck (1966), that he wrote it "to not have readers, while still deserving them." His essays make similar demands on readers and have been collected in Fiction and the Figures of Life (1970), The World Within the World (1978), and the National Book Critics Circle Award winners Habitations of the Word (1985) and Finding a Form (1996). The influence of Gertrude Stein (and her notion of "pure composition") can be seen in his philosophical meditation On Being Blue (1976). Gass has also published several volumes of fiction, including the well-known In the Heart of the Heart of the Country (1968) and a long-awaited novel, The Tunnel (1995).
- p. 576, The Best American Essays of the Century.

WILLIAM H. GASS is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including Omensetter's Luck, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, On Being Blue, and The World Within the Word. He is the David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. His recent collection of essays, Habitations of the Word, won the 1986 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
- p. 284, The Best American Essays 1986.

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