Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hugh Reid MacCallum, R.I.P.

From the Globe and Mail:

Prof. MacCallum had a worldwide reputation in Milton circles, according to Glenn Loney, one of the professor's former PhD students and now registrar of the U of T faculty of arts and science. He cited a short reading list of books and essays about Milton prepared for students at the University of Oxford. Two of Prof. MacCallum's works are included: Milton & the Sons of God: The Divine Image in Milton's Epic Poetry (1986) and an early article based on his PhD dissertation.

Paul Stevens, another former PhD student who is now Canada Research Chair in English literature at U of T, said Prof. MacCallum was the youngest and last member of the Woodhouse group, which sought to understand Milton's poetry by studying the writer's vast output of religious and political prose.

But while Prof. Woodhouse and many others associated with his group, including renowned literary theorist Northrop Frye, were alpha males, Prof. MacCallum was a gentle man with no desire to make waves. He was “an unusually perceptive and careful thinker” who worked on a smaller canvas, he Prof. Stevens said.

He said Prof. MacCallum's main contribution to Milton studies was to show that the poet's religious thought was reasonable and moderate, although some critics emphasized passages that “might appear strange, harsh or even heretical.”

Nicholas von Maltzahn, a Milton expert at the University of Ottawa, said Prof. MacCallum made “a large, judicious but, I expect, under-read contribution” to his chosen field.

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