Leslie Fiedler

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Leslie Fiedler
Leslie Fiedler (1967).jpg
Fiedler in 1967 (Photograph: Jac. de Nijs)
Leslie Aaron Fiedler

(1917-03-08)March 8, 1917
DiedJanuary 29, 2003(2003-01-29) (aged 85)

Leslie Aaron Fiedler (March 8, 1917 – January 29, 2003) was an American literary critic, known for his interest in mythography and his championing of genre fiction. His work incorporates the application Psychological theories to American literature[1]. Fieldler most renowned work consists of Love and Death in the American Novel (1960). A retrospective article on Leslie Fiedler in the New York Times Book Review in 1965 referred to Love and Death in the American Novel as "one of the great, essential books on the American imagination . . . an accepted major work." This groundbreaking work views in depth both American literature and character from the time of the American Revolution to the present. From it, there emerges Fiedler's once scandalous—now increasingly accepted—judgement that our literature is incapable of dealing with adult sexuality and is pathologically obsessed with death.[2]

Our great novelists, though experts on indignity and assault, on loneliness and terror, tend to avoid treating the passionate encounter of a man and a woman, which we expect at the center of a novel. Indeed, they rather shy away from permitting in their fictions the presence of any full-fledged, mature women, giving us instead monsters of virtue or bitchery, symbols of the rejection or fear of sexuality.

— Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel


Early years[edit]

Fiedler was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Jewish parents Lillian and Jacob Fiedler. "Eliezar Aaron" was his original Hebrew name. In his early years, he developed a strong connection to his grandparents,[3] He attended South Side High School.[4]


Fiedler was offered a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University by the Rockefeller Foundation.[5][6]

The 1980s and beyond[edit]

In the 1990s, Fiedler's output decreased and new material was sporadic. In 1994, Fiedler received the Hubbell Medal for lifetime contribution to the study of literature. In 1998, Fiedler was given the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. On January 29, 2003, a month before his 86th birthday, he died in Buffalo, where he is buried at the Forest Lawn Cemetery.[7]


  • "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!" (1948)
  • An End to Innocence: Essays on Culture and Politics (1955)
  • Whitman (1959) (editor)
  • The Jew in the American Novel (1959) Herzl Institute pamphlet
  • No! In Thunder: Essays on Myth and Literature (1960)
  • Love and Death in the American Novel (1960)
  • Nude Croquet (1960) (stories, with others)
  • The Riddle of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1962) with R. P. Blackmur, Northrop Frye, Edward Hubler, Stephen Spender, Oscar Wilde
  • Pull Down Vanity (1962) stories
  • The Second Stone: A Love Story (1963) novel
  • A Literary Guide to Seduction (1963) with Robert Meister
  • The Continuing Debate: Essays on Education for Freshmen (1964) with Jacob Vinocur
  • Waiting for the End: The American Literary Scene from Hemingway to Baldwin (1964)
  • Back to China (1965) novel
  • The Last Jew in America (1966) stories
  • The Return of the Vanishing American (1968)
  • O Brave New World: American Literature from 16001840 (1968) editor with Arthur Zeiger, City University of New York.
  • Being Busted (1969)
  • Nude Croquet: The Stories (1969)
  • The Art of the Essay (1969) editor
  • Cross the Border–Close the Gap (1972),
  • Unfinished Business (1972) essays
  • Collected Essays of Leslie Fiedler (1972)
  • To the Gentiles (1972)
  • The Stranger in Shakespeare (1972)
  • Beyond The Looking Glass: Extraordinary Works of Fairy Tale and Fantasy (1973) editor, with Jonathan Cott
  • "Rebirth of God, The Death of Man", an essay in Salmagundi: A Quarterly of the Humanities & Social Sciences, Winter, 1973, No. 21, pp. 3–27.
  • The Messengers Will Come No More (1974)
  • In Dreams Awake: A Historical-Critical Anthology of Science Fiction (1975, editor): a "historical-critical" anthology with "provocative introduction and commentary" (Scholes[8])
  • A Fiedler Reader (1977)
  • The Inadvertent Epic: From Uncle Tom's Cabin to Roots (1978) Massey Lecture
  • Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self (1978)
  • English Literature: Opening Up the Canon, Selected Papers from the English Institute, 1979, New Series #4, edited by Leslie A. Fiedler and Houston A. Baker Jr., Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.
  • What was literature?: Class Culture And Mass Society (1982)
  • Buffalo Bill and the Wild West (1982)
  • Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided (1983)
  • Fiedler on the Roof: Essays on Literature and Jewish Identity (1991)
  • The Tyranny of the Normal: Essays on Bioethics, Theology & Myth (1996)
  • A New Fiedler Reader (1999)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (2003-01-31). "Leslie Fiedler Dies at 85; Provocative Literary Critic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  2. ^ Fiedler, Leslie A. (2003) [1966]. Love and death in the American novel. Dalkey Archive Press. ISBN 1-56478-163-1. OCLC 949854980.
  3. ^ Cronin, Gloria L.; Berger, Alan L. (2015-04-22). Encyclopedia of Jewish-American Literature. Infobase Learning. ISBN 9781438140612.
  4. ^ "Obituary: Leslie Fielder", The Daily Telegraph, February 3, 2003. Accessed December 19, 2019. "The son of a pharmacist, Leslie Aaron Fiedler was born on March 8 1917 at Newark, New Jersey, where he went to South Side High School."
  5. ^ "Leslie A. Fiedler | American literary critic". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  6. ^ "Leslie A. Fiedler". Poetry Foundation. 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  7. ^ Find A Grave Retrieved 2013-10-27
  8. ^ Scholes, Robert; Rabkin, Eric S. (1977). "Bibliography I: History and Criticism of Science Fiction". Science Fiction: History, Science, Vision. London: Oxford University Press.


  • Mark Roydon Winchell (1985) Leslie Fiedler
  • S. G. Kellman and Irving Malin, editors (1999) Leslie Fiedler and American Culture
  • Mark Roydon Winchell (2002) "Too Good to Be True": The Life and Work of Leslie Fiedler

External links[edit]