The Path to Public Service at SEAS


Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum


Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President


Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study


Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

Professors Call Matthiessen Death 'A Very Great Loss'


University officials early this morning mourned the death of Professor F. O. Matthiessen.

Provost Buck said, "In addition to being a very distinguished scholar in the field of American literature, Professor Matthiessen was especially noted at Harvard for his interest in students and the time he gave them, both at Eliot House and in his classrooms."

"In the tragic and unforeseen death of Professor Matthiessen, the English Department has suffered a loss which it shares with History and Literature and the University at large," said Professor B. J. Whiting, Chairman of the Department of English. "He was a popular and influential teacher whose foremost thought was always for the positive relation of Literature to the individual student. The words which best sum up Matthiessen's life and critical work are "passionate sincerity."

John A. Clardi, Briggs-Copeland Assistant Professor of English Composition, said, "One finds himself at the edge of things, trying to imagine what desperation could have entered so gentle and so warm a personality. I have never known a more considerate man, nor one more passionately devoted to literature, and to all things. Everything else seems beyond saying."

Dean Bender said, "Professor Matthiessen's death represents a great and tragic loss to the College. He was an outstanding and devoted teacher."

Jacob C. Levenson, tutor in History and Literature, stated, "I am terribly sorry that one of the outstanding men in the community has died. His loss is a terrible one in both our intellectual and moral lives."

"I share in the shock the University must feel in the death of one of its eminent scholars," said Theodore Morrison '23, lecturer in English.

"A Tremendous Loss"

Laurence B. Holland, teaching fellow in History and Literature, said, "Professor Matthiessen's death is as tremendous a loss as Harvard could have suffered. There could not have been as devoted a teacher or a more profound student of American culture. He was loyal both to his associates and to an unbelievable degree to his students."

C. Crane Brinton '19, McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History, called Matthiessen's death "a very terrible thing, a very terrible loss."

Perry G. E. Miller, professor of American Literature, stated, "I am terribly shocked and grieved. We have lost a fine man."

Howard Mumford Jones, professor of English, said, "Professor Matthiessen's death is a great loss to all those who knew him."

Robert S. Schwantes, secretary of the Department of History and Literature stated, "The outstanding thing about Professor Matthiessen was his sensitive appreciation and intensive criticism of literature, qualities which excited and stimulated his students."

"The death of Matty, as he was known to hundreds of his students, is a deep grief and loss to us all," said Joseph W. Beach, Visiting Professor of American Literature. "He was as much loved for his warmth and generous heart as he was respected and admired for his brilliant mind and strict patience. He was one of the finest critics and most serious and penetrating thinkers. He was a teacher in the ideal sense of the word."

Professor John H. Finley, Jr. '25, master of Eliot House, said that Matthiessen, who was the first head tutor of Eliot, "was an extraordinarily devoted tutor and teacher in the College. He played an intense part in the lives of a whole generation."

Elliott Perkins '23, Lecturer in History, declared, "He was one of the professors most concerned with undergraduate teaching, and his place will be hard to fill. I have been closely associated with him for a little over 20 years, and since the war I have worked with him as one of the two Senior Tutors in the Department of History and Literature.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.