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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
In memoriam
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1372  Wednesday, 24 August 2005

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Subject: 	In memoriam: Professor Emeritus Sheldon Paul Zitner

University of Toronto -- News@UofT -- (Aug 22/05)
In memoriam: Professor Emeritus Sheldon Paul Zitner

Professor emeritus Sheldon Paul Zitner of English at Trinity College 
died of
complications from intestinal surgery April 26. He was 81 years old.

Professor Emeritus Sheldon Paul Zitner, 1924-2005

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1924, Zitner served in the Pacific during 
the Second World War, returning to finish his BA at Brooklyn College, 
then taking an MA at New York University and a PhD at Duke University. 
He taught for six years at Hampton Institute, a black college in 
Virginia, and for 12 years at Grinnell, a liberal arts college in Iowa, 
where he became chair of the English department and of the division of 
humanities as well as the Carter-Adams Professor of Literature. In 1969 
he joined the English department at Trinity College.  Early in his 
career, in the 1960s, he collaborated on two books that taught the 
mysteries of new criticism and wrote a third on literary scholarship. 
His own work remained exemplary in both these modes: in addition to 
definitive editions of Spenser's Cantos of Mutabilitie, Beaumont's The 
Knight of the Burning Pestle and Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, 
he published the standard book-length commentary on All's Well That Ends 
Well and important critical articles on Hamlet, Richard II and King 
Lear, among other texts. Whatever he published was, in the words of one 
particular review, "strikingly original and subtle." While his primary 
research centred on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, he pursued a 
strong interest in critical theory - Aristotle as well as 20th-century 
practitioners - and also in North American, British and European 
contemporary poetry. He had a profound knowledge of Western rt history 
and Japanese prints and found much joy in the pieces he collected over 
the years.  In recognition of his brilliant teaching Trinity College 
awarded him an honorary doctor of sacred letters degree in 2001. "His 
classes were intellectually penetrating, remarkable in their breadth and 
leavened with unforgettable, often acerbic, wit," said Professor 
Emeritus Nancy Lindheim, a long-time friend and colleague. "Many of his 
students became lifelong friends. And his friendship brought notable 
pleasures: he was an astonishingly gifted conversationalist whose 
stories were filled with extraordinary old friends, wicked observations 
and the remembered tastes of fine meals. He was on everybody's guest list."

After retiring in 1989, Zitner turned to writing poetry, a passion he 
had abandoned after success in placing various poems during the 1950s. 
The result was three published books of verse: The Asparagus Feast< 
(1999), Before We Had Words (2002) and, posthumously, The Hunt on the 
Lagoon (2005). The three titles roughly indicate his strengths and 
concerns: sensuous engagement with the world, introspective probing of 
complex human bonds and illuminations offered to us by art (the last is 
a painting by Carpaccio). He also translated into verse a volume of 
modern Chinese poetry assembled by a friend, now under consideration by 
a university press.

"Even at 'fourscore and upward,'" Lindheim said, "his life was cut off 
too soon."

A memorial will be held Sept. 17 at Seeley Hall, Trinity College, at 3 
p.m. Colleagues, friends and students are invited to attend.

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