The Classical Legacy of Gilbert Highet: An In-Depth Retrospect

By Robert J. Ball

 

Gilbert Highet (1906–1978) was one of Columbia University’s greatest teachers and in his day the most celebrated classical scholar in America. One may regard his life and career as both extraordinary and controversial. Now, over forty years after his death, a fresh retrospect seems appropriate, as a way of presenting new information about him and evaluating his enduring classical legacy for the twenty-first century reader. This fully documented biographical appreciation of Highet’s life and work, capped by fully updated bibliographies of publications by him and about him, offers a long-overdue “official life” of this unique and towering figure.

The Classical Legacy of Gilbert Highet: An In-Depth Retrospect

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    xvi + 104 pages

    6 x 9 inches

    978-1-948488-50-1 (cloth with jacket)

    978-1-948488-68-6 (PDF)

    August 2021

  • Endorsements

    "Robert Ball offers a splendidly wide-ranging summation—and appreciation—of the life and achievements of a major scholar professing Classics in America in the twentieth century. Gilbert Highet’s readings, especially his pioneering studies of Virgil’s Aeneid, of satire as a genre, of Juvenal’s oeuvre in particular, and of the Latin poets in their native settings, continue to stand as models of creative criticism for the evaluation of all great writing. While detailing his rich intellectual accomplishment, Ball also adroitly captures the essence of the man himself as well as the fascinating intellectual milieux in which his career evolved."—Michael C. J. Putnam, Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature, Brown University

     

    "In this readable and informative accolade—unflinchingly partial and sustained throughout—Robert Ball in the course of his biography takes on some of the discussions, debates, and diatribes that directly or tangentially accompany the mid-20th century career and times of his Columbia teacher Gilbert Highet."—Richard F. Thomas, George Martin Lane Professor of Classics, Harvard University

     

    "In his heyday, Gilbert Highet was one of the most famous professors in America, renowned for his brilliantly charismatic teaching and his influential scholarship.  With this meticulously researched and profoundly sympathetic study, his former pupil Robert Ball brings Highet back to life and vividly conveys an idea of what made him such a powerful presence in American academic and public life.  The culture of Highet’s day suddenly feels very remote, yet Ball succeeds wonderfully in showing why he mattered at the time and how his influence is still felt."—Denis Feeney, Professor of Classics and Giger Professor of Latin, Princeton University