Friday, 27 July 2012

Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur - Professor, pulp writer



Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur
Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur

Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur was born on September 18, 1888 in Franklin, Massachusetts. He was the son of Clarence Arthur Brodeur and Mary Cornelia (Latta) Brodeur. His father was then the principal of the State Normal School, Westfield, Massachusetts and had graduated from Harvard.



Arthur grew up in Westfield and went to Harvard, where he met Farnham Bishop, who was to be his best friend and writing partner. He completed his education at Harvard, getting his A.B. degree in 1909, and his M.A. (English Philology) in 1911. After this, he worked for some time as an English teacher at the Volkmann School, Boston.
Bishop introduced Brodeur to his wife, Ophelia Maude Noland, a Radcliffe student, to whom he got married on Sep 3, 1912. She listed her profession as stenographer on their marriage record. Arthur went back to Harvard and completed his Ph.D. in 1916. His thesis was “The Grateful Lion from Henry of Brunswick to Guy of Warwick”.
In 1915, he published his translation of the Norwegian poem, The Edda. This was an attempt to popularize the poem with a rigorous, scholarly basis for the translation. I think he succeeded, I wanted to go and read the rest after I read this:
Night ‘tis called among men,
And among the Gods Mist-Time;
Hooded Hour the Holy Powers know it;
Sorrowless the giants,
And elves name it Sleep-Joy;
The dwarves call it Dream-Weaver.
1916 was also the year when his writing partnership with Farnham Bishop started, with their first serial, In the Grip of the Minotaur, being published in Adventure. He came to the University of California, Berkeley as instructor in English and Germanic philology.
His lectures were enjoyed by his students, who liked the way he treated the characters in the old sagas as human beings, not mythical characters. In his view, they had human problems, were shaped by the society they lived in and their actions were governed by their heroic code.
This also reflects in his stories. The Fulvia series (jointly authored with Farnham Bishop) was centered on a Sicilian princess, the only child of her aging father. It deals with her opposition to men who want to conquer her and their realm. It was the same with his tales inspired by the Scandinavian sagas; a good example is “The Honor of a King” in the September 20, 1923 issue of Adventure.
In 1921, he received a stipend of a thousand dollars (now worth about forty thousand dollars) to study language and literature in Uppsala University, Sweden. He became a professor in 1930. On 23 Nov 1944, his wife passed away. In 1946, he became the founding chairman of the newly created department of Scandinavian studies.
He remained as its chairman until 1951. He received the Royal Order of Vasa, First Class, from the government of Sweden for his services to Scandinavian culture. He continued teaching till his retirement in 1955.
He said that he had three ambitions “all divergent and improbable – a quiet country life, eminence as an archaeologist, and some modest reputation as a writer of fiction”. He managed to accomplish the last two, for in addition to his writing, he did considerable field research into Californian  Indian life in the past.
Arthur was a member of the Adventure Camp-Fire Club, a group of men who met at irregular intervals to talk about adventure. He also liked to entertain his students. He died on September 9, 1971. He was survived by his brother, Clarence, and his second wife, Josephine Thompson Brodeur.



Links to his books in print:

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