Matthiessen, F. O.

Matthiessen, F. O.

(Francis Otto Matthiessen) (măth`ĭsĕn), 1902–50, American critic, b. Pasadena, Calif., grad. Yale Univ., 1923, B.Litt., Oxford, 1925, Ph.D., Harvard, 1927. A Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he was professor of history and literature at Harvard (1929–50). As a critic Matthiessen was interested in the history of American literature and the relationship of literature to society. He was a devout Christian and a committed socialist. His works include Sarah Orne Jewett (1929), American Renaissance (1941), Henry James: The Major Phase (1944), and Theodore Dreiser (1951). Some recent scholars argue that Matthieseen's fears of the exposure of his left-wing activities and his homosexuality contributed to his suicide.

Matthiessen, F. O. (Francis Otto)

(1902–50) literary critic, educator; born in Pasadena, Calif. He taught at Harvard (1929–50) until he committed suicide. Among his many works on American authors, his American Renaissance (1941) was a landmark in American cultural history and helped establish American literature as an academic subject.