Istanbul. At the age of 11 she moved with her family to New
Britain, Connecticut. She earned the bachelor's degree at Hunter
College, the master's and doctorate degree at Columbia University.
While in graduate school, she taught French literature and
language full-time at the Hunter College High School.
She published her firstbook, The Literary Origins of Surrealism
in 1947. In this groundbreaking study of the founders of modem
French poetry, Anna Balakian placed avant-garde writers and
artists against the background of French and German romanticism.
In 1953 she began her long career at New Yok University culminating
in her eight year chairmanship of the Department of Comparative
Balakian's next book,Surrealism: The Road to the Absolute
(1959), is a richly informed exposition of, and apologia for, surrealist
literature and art. In The Symbolist Movement: A Critical Appraisal
(1969) she gives a concise yet detailed account of symbolist
poetry. Her Andr~ Breton: Magus of Surrealism (1971) was the
first full-scale biography of founder of the surrealist movement.
Her later books includeThe Fiction of the Poet from Mallarm~ to
the Post-Symbolist Mode (1992), a study of five twentieth-century
poets, and The Snowflake on the Belfry: Dogma and Disquietude in
the Critical Arena (1994), a consideration of contemporary literary
criticism and the culture wars. Several of her books appeared in
separate editions and were translated into foreign languages. Her
most recent book, inmanuscript, was a wide-ranging critique of
the status of American education. She was a prolific author of scholarly
As editor of the second volume of the series A Comparative
History of Literatures in European Languages entitled The Symbolist
Movement in the Literature of European Languages (1982)
she coordinated the work of 56 scholars drawn from nations around
the globe. As theorganizer of the tenth triennial Congress of the
International Comparative Literature Association she brought 750
participants to New York University for an exchange of knowledge
and views that resulted in a three-volume publication.
As expert in the literatures and languages of many nations, Anna
Balakian resisted what she regarded as separatism and divisiveness.
Her emphasis was on thequalities that bind together people
of different nationalities (what she called "vast international connections
and kinships") rather than on what separates them.
A dynamic woman whose intellectual acuity was matched by
her unique warmth and zest, Balakian summed up her philosophy
in a personal statement she wrote for Who's Who: "I have always
competed with myself, trying each year to accountfor the gift of
life and good health.
In projecting my plans for the future I have
never let myself be too busy to enjoy the immediate moment. I
have never known boredom. My work has been my pleasure and I
have never been able to draw a line between what was work and
what was pleasure."
Her death is a great loss for all students of literature. We shall
miss her exceptional personality. Weare deeply touched by the
fact that her latest statement on the state of the profession has been
published in the present issue of Neohelicon.
Anna Balakian (1915-1997), va morir d'insuficiència cardíaca el 12 d'agost, de 1997. Anna Balakian, membre del Departament de Literatura Comparada a la Universitat de Nova Cork, va ser reconeguda internacionalment com a autoritat delsimbolisme i el surrealisme. Va treballar a l’Associació de Literatura Comparada del president d’Amèrica del 1977 al 1980 i va ser durant temps a la Internacional Comparative Literature Association.
Autora de nombrosos llibres i articles que van tenir molt èxit, al llarg de la seva trajectòria va rebre molts premis. De descendència armènia, Anna Balakian va néixer a Constantinoble, Istanbul. Als...