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John North

Dr. John NorthWhat are you currently reading?

I am reading Margaret Avison's recent book, Listening: last poems, published several months ago, posthumously. She is perhaps the most decorated of our Canadian poets. One poem, "Ever Greens", begins "Glory, glory to the/ eternal Who,/ creator of trees:..." Margaret gave the Pascal Lectures here some years ago. We became very close friends and confidantes.

Also, Man in the Struggle for Peace, by Charles Habib Malik, another personal friend, also now deceased. The book is a commentary on the history of the United Nations. Malik was a founding member of the UN, President of the General Assembly, and chairman of the UN committee that wrote the International Declaration of Human Rights. He was one of the signatories to the capitulation of Japan at the end of WW2. I count him as one of the most influential of living persons whom I have met. He, too, gave the Pascal Lectures. I am now editing his personal meditations, "The Race", which is reminiscent of Pascal's Pensées, and consists of 17,000 pages of daily diary entries.

Because so much of my reading is re-reading, I am also looking at G.M. Hopkins' poetry, especially "The Wreck of the Deutschland". And Kafka's short story "The Hunger Artist," which Google provides at

What are your five favourite texts?

Five Favourite Texts: well, let's say authors. They are Shakespeare, Dickens, Hopkins, Tennyson, Browning, and of course the perpetual international best-seller, the Bible. But one hates to leave anyone off of one's list of intimate friends.

What are the top five texts that you find to be the most useful for teaching?

I don't read anything about teaching--BOR-ing; I only read and talk glorious literature.

What texts have you had the most fun researching?

For decades I have been romping my way through British libraries in pursuit of the records of 19th century periodicals. So far, have come up with 63,000, the bibliography of which can be seen at (on the UW campus library network).

What would you be if you weren't an English professor?

If I wasn't an English Professor, and perhaps when I retire, my wife and I would establish an orphanage in Ethiopia.