J.N. Douglas Bush, Gurney Professor of English Emeritus and noted literary humanist, died Tuesday, three weeks before his 87 birthday.
Born in Ontario and educated at the University of Toronto and at Harvard. Bush taught here for 33 years, retiring in 1966 His interest spanned the range of literature, although he specialized in English poetry, particularly Milton and Chaucer.
Many of his colleagues in the English Department interviewed yesterday remembered Bush as an inspiring teacher as well as a gifted scholar.
"He was the greatest literary humanist of his generation," said Walter Jackson Bate Porter University Professor. "He taught everything from the Renaissance to great contemporary authors," Bate added.
Noting that many of Bush's students went on to become renowned professors, Bate who studied under Buch--described him as "perhaps the greatest teacher of university teachers--one of the wittiest and most brilliant scholars of his time."
Herschel Baker, Higginson Professor of English Literature and also a student of Bush, called him an illustrious scholar for whom his students felt "an immense affection." "Yet he was an incorrectly modest many" Baker said.
After receiving his doctorate from Harvard in 1923. Bush remained as an instructor and tutor until 1927. Following a 10-year stint at the University of Minnesots, Bush returned to teach at Harvard until his retirement.
Bush addressed the difference between classic and contemporary literature in delivering the Phi Beta Kappa Oration at Harvard in 1966.
"Of course, we must read contemporary authors just because they are contemporary, and because a few of them are important interpreters," said Bush "But we can renew and nourish our humanness much more fully by living with the writers of finer genius and insight who recognized both the littleness and the greatness of man Within our own small personal universe, we can call in the old world to redress the balance of the new," he added.
In addition to serving as a trustee of Radcliffe and president of the Modern Humanities Research Association. Bush authored several volumes of literary analysis.
Jeffrey Bush his son, said yesterday that his father "led a quiet, but industrious life since his retirement," remaining in Cambridge writing and editing books and articles.
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