From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
7.2 (1987): 105-07.
Copyright © 1987, The Cervantes Society of America
|R. L. PREDMORE (1911-1987)|
RICHARD LIONEL PREDMORE Dick Predmore was my close warm colleague and dear friend for a quarter of a century. By his death, on 17 March 1987, the profession of Hispanism has been greatly diminished.
Born in Tottenville, New York, on 21 December 1911, Dick studied first at Rutgers University, earning the B.A. in 1933 and the M.A. in 1935. He received the degree of D.M.L. from Middlebury College in 1941. He also did graduate work at the University of Madrid and at Columbia University. He was awarded fellowships by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1942 and by the Guggenheim Foundation in 1970. From 1937 to 1950 he taught at Rutgers, serving for the last three of these years as Chairman of the Department of Romance Languages. In 1950 he was called to Duke University as Professor of Romance Languages. At Duke he served at various times as Chairman of his Department, as Secretary of the University, and as Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School. In 1966-1967 he was seconded from Duke to serve as Chief of the Graduate Academic Branch of the US Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. He retired from Duke in 1978.
Cervantists will recall with gratitude Dick's important contributions to our understanding of Cervantes and his work. As early as 1938 he published his An Index to Don Quijote with Rutgers University Press. El mundo del Quijote (Madrid: Insula, 1958) opened our eyes to that mundo extraña y maravillosamente libre created by Cervantes, in which [la] libertad no sirve de escenario para el triunfo de la materia, sino para la revelación del espíritu (p. 168). Dick began to write this work in English, but he soon discovered that the key phrases he needed to bolster his argument were variously rendered in the English translations of Don Quixote. He realized that, in the interest of scholarly documentation, he had to write and quote in Spanish. Nevertheless, at the urging of friends and colleagues, who persuaded him that teachers and readers of the
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novel in English would benefit from being able to read his book in English,
Dick translated El mundo del Quijote, supplying his own
translations of the quotations. The World of Don Quixote
was published by Harvard University press in 1967. Dick's other book-length
contribution to Cervantes studies was a biography commissioned by Dodd, Mead
& Company, which was published in 1973. Cervantes is a handsome,
lavishly produced book, designed by the publisher to grace coffee tables.
But, like every professional task to which Dick turned his hand, it is a
work of impeccable scholarship. Given the paucity of historical information
about the author of Don Quixote, his biographies are necessarily padded
with surmises and conjectures. In Dick's biography the guesswork is held
to a minimum, and what there is of it is intelligently and learnedly done.
Dick's scholarship was by no means limited to Cervantes. While his other work may be of less interest to readers of this journal, some recognition of it is needed to take the measure of the scholar. There are, to begin with, some fine articles on philological and phonetic problems, and some excellent studies on Unamuno, Antonio Machado, and Cela. And, following his retirement, Dick produced two more books. His Lorca's New York Poetry; Social Injustice, Dark Love, Lost Faith (Duke University Press, 1980) probes the complex untraditional images of the surrealist Poeta en Nueva York in a remarkably successful attempt to discover the great themes that underpin the difficult work. This book also appeared in Spanish with the title Los poemas neoyorquinos de Federico García Lorca (Madrid: Taurus, 1985). Lastly, Dick translated into English verse Solitudes, Galleries, and Other Poems by Antonio Machado. The long critical introduction to these translations was written by his son Michael. It is a pity that Dick did not live to see this joint venture by Predmore and Predmore in print. It was published by Duke University press soon after his death.
Dick's full life after his retirement was not all devoted to scholarship. His superb executive ability was called upon in 1980 when the International Institute in Spain, whose hospitality many American Hispanists have enjoyed, found itself threatened with insolvency. Dick was named its Director. The corporators of the Institute expected that he would decorously wind down the operation, and make provisions for the disposal of the fine old building at Miguel Ángel, 8, in Madrid. How they underestimated his drive and his energy!
On arriving in Madrid, Dick found himself besieged by intellectuals and scholars, and plain Spanish patriots and lovers of America, all of them begging him to find some way of preserving
the venerable institution. Dick's response was to cajole businessmen and
bankers into making sizable financial contributions to keep the International
Institute in Spain alive. As a result of his energetic fundraising and
administrative skill, the Institute is today not just alive but kicking.
Dick was a fine gentle man who enriched our discipline and the lives of those who knew him immeasurably and in many ways. To his wife Pat and their three sons goes the sympathy of all Cervantists.
|BRUCE W. WARDROPPER|
|Fred Jehle email@example.com||Publications of the CSA||HCervantes|