More About the Author
"Either over neither, both over either/or, live-and-let-live over stand-or die, high spirits over low, energy over apathy, wit over dullness, jokes over homilies, good humor over jokes, good nature over bad, feeling over sentiment, truth over poetry, consciousness over explanations, tragedy over pathos, comedy over tragedy, entertainment over art, private over public, generosity over meanness, charity over murder, love over charity, irreplaceable over interchangeable, divergence over concurrence, principle over interest, people over principle."
Marvin Mudrick, NOBODY HERE BUT US CHICKENS
Marvin Mudrick was born on July 17, 1921 in Philadelphia. He received his A.B. degree from Temple University in 1942. After serving in the Army Air Corps during the war he attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his Ph.D. in English. In 1949 he joined the English faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1967 he founded the College of Creative Studies and became its first provost.
...Although he was deeply suspicious of the word "teacher," he was a brilliant one both in the classroom and through the stream of books and essays he produced while continuing the almost superhuman task of running the College, teaching in it, and maintaining a close contact with its students past and present. Marvin Mudrick also remained for many years an active member of the UCSB English Department, and several students from his College went on to become graduate students there. From the first he conceived of the College as a necessary addition to campus life, fulfilling the special needs of a portion of its students, never as a body which competed with the University or opposed its fundamental purposes...
Marvin Mudrick was the author of five books: Jane Austen, Irony as Defence and Discovery; On Culture and Literature; The Man in the Machine; Books Are Not Life But Then What Is?; and Nobody Here But Us Chickens.
The bulk of the later ones are collections of critical essays of a particular kind which he developed during his long association with The Hudson Review. The first of them appeared in the Spring of 1953. Thereafter they were produced in astonishing quantities and on an astonishing variety of subjects. The 103rd appeared posthumously in Winter 1987. Marvin Mudrick never confined himself to the works he was ostensibly reviewing, but saw these as opportunities to learn more about their authors' entire achievements, which included the way they lived their lives. It was his subjects' lives in the fullest sense which engrossed him. He saw art as the medium through which a man stands most completely revealed as himself. He was on the alert to intercept evidence of an artist's nature from every clue his work provided. Marvin Mudrick's essays use layer upon layer of quotations which he selected in a particular way. His quotations are always unexpected, yet always came to be recognized as important moments of truth, like telltale changes of expression on a face which is being watched with relentless attention. Character portraits of a special kind are Marvin Mudrick's medium and embody his critical method. Through them he reminds his readers that no artistic statement can be separated from the human being who has made it. Often he pursues what he perceives as personality defects in the person under his eye with a cruel and relentless wit, hunting down his words and actions, using these against him with devastating effect. At other times he joyfully pursues evidence of personal heroism, of a mind which has dared to be true to itself. He himself always demonstrated the qualities of self-commitment he valued most.
Like the voices of his favorite authors, the voice in his writing reproduces his own living voice in an almost uncanny way. That voice is cantankerous, loving, aggressive, spiteful, charming; it abounds with energy and fierce humor. His very funny wordplay remains, and his gift for parody as well as his enormous love for, and need for the arts, as though his own life has depended on them....
In the preface to one of his books, Marvin Mudrick has described the theoretical choices which determined his findings on the multitude of people he studied. These choices were: "high spirits over low, energy over apathy, wit over dullness, jokes over homilies, good humor over jokes, good nature over bad, feeling over sentiment, truth over poetry, consciousness over explanations, tragedy over pathos, comedy over tragedy, entertainment over art, private over public, generosity over meanness, charity over murder, love over charity, irreplaceable over interchangeable, divergence over concurrence, principle over interest, people over principle."
...[H]e was always genuinely faithful to his own immediate responses and passions. Looking at him, and at his continuing presence within his work, it is tempting to quote from the dramatic hero who aggravated him most:
'A was a man, take him for all in all
I shall not look upon his like again.
by John Ridland Alan Stephens Logan Speirs
Marvin Mudrick was survived by his wife of 40 years, Jeanne Little Mudrick and his four children, Lee, Ann, Ellen and Janie.
Learn more about Marvin Mudrick from authors Bob Blaisdell and Jervey Tervalon: http://tumblr.lareviewofbooks.org/post/24379207635/marvin-mudrick-believes-in-you-believe-it-or-not