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BOOKS AND AUTHORS GEORGE BRANDON SAUL, 1901–1986: AN APPRECIATION AND A SELECTED CHECKLIST M. KELLY LYNCH when george Brandon Saul, poet, writer of Wction, musician, and scholar in Anglo-Irish literature died, he left a large and singularly impressive oeuvre behind. Between 1922, when Cup of Sand, his Wrst book of verse, was published, and 1986, Saul had written enough poetry to Wll thirteen collections. He had also produced Wfteen works of Wction and drama; three published children’s books; four scholarly editions in Anglo-Irish letters; sixty-two scholarly articles; two anthologies; eighteen critical studies of Anglo-Irish writers; more than a hundred book reviews; and one hundred and twenty compositions for piano and piano and voice. For all this, George Saul had, and still has, no more than a quiet reputation in the United States. The reason for this relative obscurity is a complex matter— a combination of his personality, his aesthetic preference, and the way he chose to position himself in the world. On the odd byway he chose to travel—one deviating signiWcantly from the thoroughfare and moving ever further away as this century moved along—Saul might be considered remarkable , talented—perhaps a genius. Equally capable of inventing a noslip automatic jack and composing an impromptu for piano, his mathematical ability and draftsmanship were of the highest quality and his mind almost equally balanced between the quantitative and the verbal abilities. Born in Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania, Saul came from modest beginnings , the eldest of three male children born to Mary and Daniel Brandon Saul, a clerk on the mail trains. Entering Pennsylvania State College, Saul originally planned to study mathematics and engineering. This choice was not his, but his father’s, who presumably simply wanted to insure for his son a lucrative position. Loath to tell his father that he wanted to be a poet, Saul acceded to his wishes. However, in the pandemic of 1918, Saul contracted inXuenza and nearly died. His convalescence of one year was GEORGE BRANDON SAUL, 1907–1986 169 spent in writing poetry and, when he had fully recovered, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania as a student of English literature. Daniel Saul, who was dying of cancer—he succumbed in George’s Wrst year—was presumably not able to exert the inXuence he once had over his son. Saul was free to pursue his inclinations and by the time he graduated had published his Wrst book of poetry. Saul’s academic career at the University of Connecticut—then Connecticut Agricultural College—began by chance over dinner at a boarding house in Philadelphia where he was living while clerking for the Indemnity Insurance Company of North America, hating it, and applying for teaching positions in Manhattan. He met Professor Henry Dedlinger of the History Department at Connecticut “Aggie” who urged him to apply for an opening in the English Department there. Saul secured the job immediately . There is a sumptuous irony in the fact that the twenty-four-year-old six-foot, fair-haired, blue-eyed young blade, who had set his sights on living the poetic life in the Manhattan of the 1920s, ended up in the “barest hole in the hills,”1 in rural Storrs, Connecticut, slogging from his lodgings past the sheep barns to class. After that experience, he could never bring himself to eat lamb. Sixty-two years later, a professor emeritus, Saul had the distinction of the longest tenure in the university’s ninety-Wve-year history. From 1924 to his death, Saul’s life was uneventful, except in the most ordinary and domestic ways: a wife, Dorothy Ayers; a child, George, Jr.; the tragic early death of his wife; a marriage to Eileen Lewis; two more children, Michael Brandon and Barbara Brigid Brandon; a rented house; assorted dogs, cats, automobiles, illnesses, sadnesses, joys, responsibilities; a baby grand piano; a vegetable garden; Wve grandchildren; two trips to Ireland rather late in his life; a house and mortgage of his own at seventy; building a stone wall; an eleven-month battle with death; a Wnality. When George Saul settled in Storrs, he settled for life, and step-by-step succeeded in disengaging himself from the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1550-5162
Print ISSN
0013-2683
Pages
pp. 169-181
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-31
Open Access
No
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