Roger Shattuck

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Roger Whitney Shattuck (August 20, 1923 in Manhattan, New York – December 8, 2005 in Lincoln, Vermont) was an American writer best known for his books on French literature, art, and music of the twentieth century.

Background and education[edit]

Born in New York City to parents Howard Francis Shattuck, a physician, and Elizabeth (Colt) Shattuck, he studied at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire before entering Yale College.

Military service in Second World War[edit]

He left Yale to join the Army Air Corps, serving as a cargo pilot in the Pacific theater during the Second World War. He spoke little about his experience in the war, but tried writing about it his entire life. He tried capturing the moment he flew over Nagasaki with his copilot, seeing the aftermath and rubble on the ground. After the war, he returned to school, graduating from Yale in 1947. Shattuck then moved to Paris where he worked for UNESCO's film service. In this capacity he came into contact with luminaries of European culture such as Jean Cocteau, Alice B. Toklas and Georges Braque, and met his future wife Nora White, a dancer with the Ballets Russes.

Academic career[edit]

Returned to New York, Shattuck worked in publishing, and later taught at Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Virginia, and Boston University, despite his lack of a graduate degree. He retired as a professor emeritus from Boston University in 1997.[1]


Shattuck was among the founding members of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics.[2] He later served as president of the organization.[3]


Shattuck's essays frequently appeared in The New York Review of Books and other publications. He was the author of several highly regarded works of literary criticismProust's Way, The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France - 1885 to World War I, Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography—and served as editor of the restored edition of Helen Keller's memoir The Story of My Life.

In 1975, Shattuck received the National Book Award in category Arts and Letters for Marcel Proust (a split award).[2][4]

Academic philosophy[edit]

Routinely described as "one of America's leading literary scholars,"[1] Shattuck was considered something of a traditionalist. He became well known for his 1994 speech "Nineteen Theses on Literature," delivered to the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. In it he argued (as point XIV), "Everything has been said. But nobody listens. Therefore it has to be said all over again—only better. In order to say it better, we have to know how it was said before."[5]

Upon Shattuck's death, the Yale critic Harold Bloom said of his colleague, "He was an old-fashioned, in a good sense, man of letters. He incarnated his love for literature."[2]


  • The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I (1955)
  • Proust's Binoculars (1963)
  • Half Tame (1964)
  • Proust (Fontana Modern Masters, 1974)
  • Marcel Proust (1975) [won National Book Award Arts & Letters prize in 1975]
  • The Forbidden Experiment: The Story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron (1980)
  • The Innocent Eye: On Modern Literature & the Arts (1984)
  • Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography (1994)
  • Candor and Perversion: Literature, Education, and the Arts (1998)
  • Proust's Way: A Field Guide to 'In Search of Lost Time' (2000)


  1. ^ a b Feeney, Mark (2005-12-10). "Roger Shattuck". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-02-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (2005-12-10). "Roger Shattuck, Scholar, Is Dead at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Publisher's Weekly, "Candor and Perversion: Literature, Education, and the Arts," September 1, 1999.
  4. ^ "National Book Awards – 1975". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  5. ^ Shattuck, Roger (1999-10-24). "Candor and Perversion: Nineteen Theses on Literature". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]