Quentin Anderson, 90, Scholar Known for Literary Criticism, Dies
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Quentin Anderson, a literary critic, cultural historian and Columbia professor emeritus of American literature, died Tuesday at his home in Morningside Heights. He was 90.
He wrote, most notably, "The American Henry James" (1957), a critique of the novelist's work, and "The Imperial Self: An Essay in American Literary and Cultural History" (1971). More recently he published "Making Americans: An Essay on Individualism and Money" (Harcourt, 1992), which remains in print.
Dr. Anderson, the eldest son of the playwright and author Maxwell Anderson, came to literary criticism in the 1940's after briefly trying a career in the theater. He was born in Minnewaukan, N.D., and graduated in 1937 from Columbia, where he studied with Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling and found his interest in Henry James.
He received an M.A. from Harvard in 1945 and a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1953. He taught at Columbia for more than 40 years, having joined the English department as a lecturer in 1939. He rose to full professor in 1961, was named Julian Levi Professor of the Humanities in 1978, and retired in 1981.
Aside from the books he wrote and edited, he contributed to periodicals. Some of his essays appeared in The New York Times Book Review.
Dr. Anderson was also an authority on Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. His research in 19th-century American literature focused on its particular Americanness and its connections to European antecedents.
His rapport with students and interest in campus life dated from his duties in the 1950's as student adviser for an early admissions program sponsored by the Ford Foundation. After the campus revolt of 1968, he served as chairman of a joint disciplinary committee of administrators, faculty members and students, which recommended probation for some students and expulsion for those found responsible for acts of vandalism or theft.
Dr. Anderson is survived by his wife of 55 years, Thelma Ehrlich Anderson; a daughter, Martha Anderson of East Bridgewater, Mass.; two sons, Abraham, of Santa Fe, N.M., and Maxwell, of Manhattan, director of the Whitney Museum; two brothers, Alan H. Jr., of Sonoma, Calif., and Terence, of New York City; a sister, Hesper Anderson of Napa, Calif.; and one grandson.