Please don’t forget Rex Warner

It astounds me that even some of the most well-read of people have no sense of who Rex Warner is. My introduction to Rex Warner was via his translation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War some thirty years ago when I was studying the philosophy of history. Soon after I came to discover Rex Warner as novelist by reading The Aerodrome. I had prior viewed the BBC adaptation but my then understanding was less than superficial since I hadn’t read the novel yet. Years later the name Rex Warner popped out at me, if I recall correctly, in Tim Fuller’s annotation of Oakeshott’s Rationalism in Politics. Around this time I made contact with someone who knew Rex and told me that Rex went to school with Oakeshott though they were in different years and one assumes they stayed in touch (something I will inquire about). Anyway, I’m of the view that Warner’s novels (at least The Aerodrome and The Professor) are as timely now as when they were written. I’m very much looking forward to reading Rex’s student Stephen Tabachnick’s biography and checking out Look up at the skies: Poems and prose chosen by Rex Warner by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Hopkins and Warner: how can one resist?). For more on RW see the NYT‘s slight obituary (I can’t find others); The Independent‘s Forgotten authors No 59: Rex Warner as well as a BA dissertation entitled An English Kafka?: a reading of Rex Warner’s The Professor and Franz Kafka’s The Trial. See also here, here, and here for various shades of opinion.

The British critic V. S. Pritchett once described Mr. Warner as ”the only outstanding novelist of ideas whom the decade of ideas produced.”

[t]his dandyish vicar’s son and disillusioned Marxist led a life packed with colour, incident and, by his own admission, lechery.