William Gass Papers ca. 1948-1981.
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Biographical / Historical Note

William Gass, born in Fargo, North Dakota, is one of the most critically acclaimed authors of fiction and critical prose writing today. Trained as a philosopher--he received his doctorate in philosophy from Cornell in 1954--Gass is a respected academic and popular teacher at Washington University where he is David L. May Distinguished Professor in the Humanities.

Gass' fiction has received critical praise from the outset of his career. His first novel, Omensetter's Luck (1966), was heralded by critics--Richard Gilman, in his review of the book for The New Republic, went so far as to call it "the most important work of fiction by an American in this literary generation"--and his subsequent work has received similar critical response. Gass is equally important as a critic and his theory of fiction manifests itself in both his criticism and his fiction. He is clearly aligned with that group of authors and theorists who view language and writing itself as the ultimate subject matter of literature. Thus plot, narrative, character, etc.--the traditional concerns of fiction writers--are used by Gass to explore the nature of language, as one might expect from an author whose best known critical works are The World within the Word (1978) and Habitations of the Word (1985).