Stephen Medcalf (1936–2007) spent his whole academic career—forty years—at the University of Sussex, in southern England, which he joined in 1963, soon after its foundation. He helped to create the School of European Studies, which combined the disciplines of literary criticism, languages, history, philosophy, and art into a single flexible degree course. This suited him perfectly: he was steeped in Latin and Greek literature, well-read in philosophy, a devout high Anglican, and drawn to medieval mystics and to the poetry of T. S. Eliot, on whom he planned (but did not complete) a book. Indeed, he was more than a bit of a mystic himself; a hermit, too, living alone in a fifteenth-century cottage, so incapable of cooking that he had to dine out most nights; and an anchorite, startlingly indifferent to his own person. I met him twice and was awed by the range of his mind and conversation. Now two of his colleagues at Sussex have brought...

 

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