John Hawkes (novelist)

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John Hawkes
Born John Clendennin Talbot Burne Hawkes, Jr.
(1925-08-17)August 17, 1925
Died May 15, 1998(1998-05-15) (aged 72)
Occupation Novelist
Alma mater Harvard College
Period 1949-1997
Literary movement Postmodernism
Notable works

John Hawkes, born John Clendennin Talbot Burne Hawkes, Jr. (August 17, 1925 – May 15, 1998), was a postmodern American novelist, known for the intensity of his work, which suspended some traditional constraints of narrative fiction.


Born in Stamford, Connecticut, and educated at Harvard University. Although he published his first novel, The Cannibal, in 1949, it was The Lime Twig (1961) that first won him acclaim. Thomas Pynchon is said to have admired the novel.[1] His second novel, The Beetle Leg (1951), an intensely surrealistic Western set in a Montana landscape, came to be viewed by many critics as one of the landmark novels of 20th-century American literature.

Hawkes taught English at Harvard from 1955 to 1958 and at Brown University from 1958 until his retirement in 1988.[2] Among his students at Harvard and Brown were Rick Moody, Jeffrey Eugenides, and William Melvin Kelley.[3]

Hawkes died in Providence, Rhode Island.


  • "For me, everything depends on language."
  • "I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme, and having once abandoned these familiar ways of thinking about fiction, totality of vision or structure was really all that remained."[4]
  • "Like the poem, the experimental fiction is an exclamation of psychic materials which come to the writer all readily distorted, prefigured in that inner schism between the rational and the absurd."
  • "Everything I have written comes out of nightmare, out of the nightmare of war, I think."
  • "The writer should always serve as his own angleworm—and the sharper the barb with which he fishes himself out of blackness, the better."


Awards and nominations[edit]


  • Ferrari, Rita. Innocence, Power, and the Novels of John Hawkes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
  • Hryciw-Wing, Carol A. John Hawkes : a research guide. New York : Garland Pub., 1986
  • Hryciw-Wing, Carol A. John Hawkes : an annotated bibliography /with four introductions by John Hawkes. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1977

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Hawkes's author page.
  2. ^ NY Times: John Hawkes Is Dead at 72; An Experimental Novelist
  3. ^ Nine Brown alumni to receive honorary degrees[1]
  4. ^ Bradbury, Malcolm. The novel today: contemporary writers on modern fiction. Manchester University Press, 1977, p. 7.