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Rex Warner

Rex Warner

Warner, Rex, 1905-86, English author, b. Birmingham, grad. Oxford, 1928. A classical scholar noted for his translations from Greek and Latin, Warner taught in England, Egypt, and the United States. He was profoundly influenced by Kafka, and his early novels are expressionist allegories concerning problems of power; they include The Wild Goose Chase (1937) and The Aerodrome (1941), his masterpiece. Warner also wrote several historical novels, including The Young Caesar (1958) and Pericles the Athenian (1963); his essays, such as The Cult of Power (1946) and Men of Athens (1973), were also influential.
Rex Warner (March 9 1905 - June 24 1986) was an English classicist, writer and translator. He is now probably best remembered for The Aerodrome (1941), an allegorical novel whose young hero is faced with the disintegration of his certainties about his loved ones and with a choice between the earthy, animalistic life of his home village and the pure, efficient, emotionally detached life of an airman.

Overview

He was born Reginald Ernest Warner in Birmingham, England and brought up mainly in Gloucestershire, where his father was a clergyman. He was educated at St. George’s School in Harpenden, and at Wadham College, Oxford, where he associated with W. H. Auden and Cecil Day Lewis, and published in Oxford Poetry. After graduating in 1928, he spent time teaching, some of it in Egypt. His first collection, Poems, appeared in 1937. He was a contributor to Left Review, and his first novel, The Wild Goose Chase, is in part a dystopian fantasy of a tyrannical government which is overthrown in a heroic revolution. His second novel, The Professor, published around the time of the Nazi Anschluss, is the story of a liberal academic whose compromises with a repressive government lead eventually to his arrest, imprisonment and execution "while attempting to escape"; contemporary reviewers saw parallels with the Austrian leaders Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. After Why Was I Killed? (1943), Warner abandoned contemporary allegory in favour of historical novels about Ancient Greece and Rome, including Imperial Caesar for which he was awarded the 1960 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.

From 1945 to 1947 he was in Athens as Director of the British Institute. At that time he was involved in numerous translations of classical Greek authors. He also translated George Seferis (Poems of George Seferis,1960).

Later he was Tallman Professor of Classics at Bowdoin College (1961) and then professor at the University of Connecticut from 1962 for eleven years. He died in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

Works

  • The Wild Goose Chase. A Novel (1937)
  • Poems (1937)
  • The Professor (1938) novel
  • The Aerodrome (1941) novel
  • Why Was I Killed? (1943) novel
  • Poems and Contradictions (1945)
  • Men and Gods (1950)
  • Greeks and Trojans (1951)
  • Views of Attica (1951)
  • Escapade (1953) comic novel
  • Eternal Greece (1953) with Martin Hürlimann
  • Young Caesar (1958) historical novel
  • The Greek Philosophers (1958)
  • Imperial Caesar (1960) historical novel
  • Pericles the Athenian (1963) historical novel
  • The Converts (1967) historical novel

Translations

From Greek

From Latin

  • War Commentaries of Caesar (1960) Gallic, Spanish and Civil Wars
  • The Confessions of St. Augustine (1963)

Film and TV adaptations

In 1983 the BBC screened an adaptation of The Aerodrome. It was written by Robin Chapman and directed by Giles Foster. The cast included Peter Firth as Roy, the protagonist; Richard Briers as the Rector; and Jill Bennett as Eustasia.

Entry on The Aerodrome at the Internet Movie Database

References

  • Politics in the Novels of Rex Warner (1974) James Flynn
  • The Novels of Rex Warner: An Introduction (1989) N. H. Reeve
  • Fiercer Than Tigers: The Life and Works of Rex Warner (2002) Stephen E. Tabachnick

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