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This article is taken from PN Review 88, Volume 19 Number 2, November - December 1992.

Recollections of Donald Davie John Holloway

'I THINK DONALD DAVIE is the seminal mind of my generation': that was what I said at a Cambridge English Faculty Appointments Committee meeting - after having first asked permission to speak, as the non-voting Secretary had to do in those days (maybe does still). Donald hadn't applied for the vacancy that the Committee was then engaged in filling, though I believe that Matthew Hodgart had drawn it to his attention. However, in due course he did apply, and was appointed without, if I remember, its being thought necessary to arrange an interview. This was in the early summer of 1957, though Donald didn't begin work in Cambridge until autumn 1958 because he had already accepted a visiting appointment at Santa Barbara for a year.

During the next few years I saw less of Donald than I would have liked, because his first term in Cambridge was one when I had already got sabbatical leave, and had arranged to use it for a three month lecture visit to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; and in 1961 I was seconded, for three years though in the end I stayed only for two, to teach in the University of Athens. But I vividly recall visiting Donald at his house called 'Gilmerton', nearly two miles from the centre of Cambridge along the main London road. Gilmerton House (if I remember rightly, Donald rented it from Caius, his College) was a handsome, dignified residence, one might say early Regency in style, ...


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