North American Scholar

CROSSETT, John Maurice, Jr

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1923-04-28
  • Born City: Brooklyn
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: John Maurice & Ethel M. C.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1981-08-06
  • Death City: Iowa City
  • Death State/Country: IA
  • Married: Judith Wallace, 23 Aug. 1969.
  • Education:

    A.B. Columbia, 1947; Ph.D. Harvard, 1958.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchng. fell. hum. Harvard, 1954-7; instructor, coll. of gen. educ. Boston U., 1957-8; asst. prof. Eng. Hamilton Coll., 1958-62; asso. prof. English Parsons Coll., 1962; asso. prof, class, langs. Grinnell Coll., 1963-70; prof, class. Cornell Coll., 1970-81.

  • Dissertation:

    “English Translations of Homer's Iliad” (Harvard, 1958).

  • Publications:

    Liberal and Conservative: Issues for College Students, ed. with Eugene K. Garber (Glenview, IL, 1968); The Dating of Longinus (University Park, PA, 1975); Longinus: Translation and Commentary (Lewiston, NY & Toronto, 1985).

  • Notes:

    John M. Crossett was a master teacher who stirred many of his students to take up the Classics as a profession or avocation. An undergraduate at Columbia College during the years of World War II, he studied in tutorial-like classes with such luminaries as Lionel Trilling, Mark Van Doren, Gilbert Highet, and Moses Hadas, achieving honors and special distinction in English, Latin, Greek, and history. He taught high school for several years in Enosberg Falls, VT, then attended Harvard University, where he studied with Werner Jaeger and Douglas Bush. Although a good and original scholar, Crossett planned to commit his many ideas to polished scholarly form only when he retired, for he wished to devote his active years to teaching. Willing to argue for hours with the most obstinate students, he achieved a great many intellectual conversions, like that of Polemon by Xenocrates; unlike Xenocrates, Crossett directly confronted a student's irrationality and confusion. His teaching was recognized by the American Philological Association in 1979, when it honored Crossett with an award for teaching in the very first year such awards were announced. Colleagues and former students wished to surprise him with a Festschrift for his 60th birthday, and work was in progress when he died unexpectedly in 1981. The volume, Hamartia: The Concept of Error in the Western Tradition. Essays in Honor of John M. Crossett, was published as a memorial in 1983. In addition to scholarly publications, Crossett wrote poems and published many himself through the Virgil Press, which he bought and operated on the principle that “the only man who has freedom of the press is the man who owns a press.”

  • Sources:

    James A. Arieti, “John M. Crossett: A Memoir,” in Hamartia: The Concept of Error in the Western Tradition. Essays in Honor of John M. Crossett, ed. Donald Stump et al. (Lewiston, NY, & Toronto, 1983).

  • Author: James A. Arieti