Howard Mumford Jones, Abbot Lawrence Lowell Professor of Humanities, Emeritus, yesterday was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in the area of general non-fiction for his book, "O Strange New World."
"Henry Adams," a three-volume work published by the Harvard University Press and written by Ernest Samuels, chairman of the department of English at Northwestern University, received the prize for biography. This is the second consecutive year that the University Press has been the publisher of the Pulitzer Prize winning biography. Jones, teaching this spring at Stanford University, said last night that he was surprised and "quite thrilled" by the announcement of the award.
In his book published by the Viking Press in 1964, Jones explores the development of American culture from the discovery of the new continent to the Jactsonian period. He believes, as he says in his preface, in "the profound and central truth that American culture [arose] from the interplay of two great sets of forces-the Old World and the New." His book depicts the development of American law, religion, literature, and art through the conflict of these two sets of forces.
The appearance of his book was greeted with cool reviews. Marius Bewley, writing for the New York Review of Books, said, "In the end, neither a sharper definition of the American essence nor a new illumination of our historical past, is achieved...One regrets that a scholar of professor Jones stature and erudition should have written a case book illustrating the peculiar temptations and dangers that beset the modern cultural historian, but it appears to me that he has."
Jones, an authority on the ideas and literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, first came to Harvard as a professor of English in 1936. For one year, 1943-44, he was dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He was appointed the first Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Humanities in 1960 and retired from his chair in 1963.
His interest in often-forgotten works in American intellectual history led to the publication of the John Harvard Library series, of which he is editor-in-chief.
In 1914 he received his B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin, and in the following year his M.A. degree from the University of Chicago. Before he came to Harvard he taught at the University of Texas, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Michigan.
Mumford believes that the study of American life and letters is "one of the most difficult and demanding disciplincs in the world of scholarship." The good student of America must know not only his own subject but also understand its European sources and the influences of Latin America, he claimed. "It is not," he said, "a discipline for the C mind."