Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur

Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur (September 18, 1888 September 9, 1971) was a scholar of early English, German, and Old Norse literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is known primarily for his scholarly work on Beowulf and his translation of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda for The American-Scandinavian Foundation, but also as a writer of pulp fiction and for his left-wing politics.

Early life and education

Brodeur was born in Franklin, Massachusetts, to Clarence Arthur Brodeur, a private school teacher who served as Superintendent of Schools at Warren and Chicopee, and to Mary Cornelia (née Latta).[1][2] He earned Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees at Harvard University in 1909, 1911, and 1916, with a dissertation on the topos of the grateful lion in medieval literature.[1][3]

Career and writings

While a student, Brodeur taught German and history in a boys' school and was a visiting lecturer at the University of Oregon.[4][5][6] However, the bulk of his career was spent at the University of California in Berkeley, where he started in 1916 as an instructor in English and Germanic philology, became a full professor in 1930, and remained until retiring in 1955.[1][7][8] He was chairman of the special committee on professionalizing the University of California Press in 1932.[9] After retiring from the University of California, he returned to the University of Oregon.[10] In 1959, he published The Art of Beowulf, which has been called "one of the books that any student of the poem must read."[1]

Brodeur was active in the establishment of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of California, and served as its first chairman from 1946 until 1951.[1][11] He had already been translating Old Norse for the American-Scandinavian Society before completing his doctorate. His translation of the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson appeared the same year as he was awarded the degree.[5][8] In 1944, he was declared a Knight 1st Class of the Royal Order of Vasa for his services to Scandinavian studies.[1][12][13]

In connection with his interest in ballads, Brodeur was active in folklore studies.[6][10][14]

Early in his career, Brodeur wrote and co-wrote fiction for the popular magazines Argosy and Adventure. Many stories focused on topics of Northern history and legend, such as Harald Hardrada's time in the Varangian Guard (the serialized novel He Rules Who Can, 1928) and Völsunga saga (the novella "Vengeance," 1925). With Farnham Bishop, he wrote adventure stories starring Lady Fulvia, and the novel The Altar of the Legion (1926).[1][15][16][17][18][19]

Brodeur was also known for his progressive politics. He was on the committee organizing fund-raising for Arthur J. Kraus' appeal against his dismissal by the City College of New York.[20] Gordon Griffiths wrote in his memoir that Brodeur, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Haakon Chevalier were the sole members of the Berkeley Communist faculty group in the early 1940s.[21] Brodeur was one of the University of California faculty who refused to sign the loyalty oath as required by the state in 1949,[22][23][24][25] although he ultimately did decide to sign and continue the fight from within.[1]

Selected works

  • (translation) The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Scandinavian Classics 5. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1916. OCLC 974934
  • The Altar of the Legion (with Farnham Bishop). Boston, Little, Brown, and Company, 1926.
  • Arthur, Dux Bellorum. University of California publications in English, volume 3, no. 7. Berkeley: University of California, 1939. OCLC 420324
  • The Art of Beowulf. Berkeley: University of California, 1959. OCLC 248278
  • Brodeur, Arthur Gilchrist & Brady, Caroline (November 1940). "Sundrmœðri—Sammœðra". Scandinavian Studies and Notes. Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. XVI (4): 133–137. JSTOR 40908177.
  • In the Grip of the Minotaur (with Farnham Bishop). Normal, IL, Black Dog Books, 2010.
  • The Adventures of Faidit and Cercamon. Boston, MA, Altus Press, 2014.


  1. W. E. Farnham and A. E. Hutson, Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, English; German: Berkeley: 1888-1971: Professor of English and Germanic Philology, at Calisphere, University of California Libraries, retrieved February 22, 2012.
  2. "Brodeur, Clarence Arthur," in Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, et al., Universities and Their Sons: History, Influence and Characteristics of American Universities, with Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Alumni and Recipients of Honorary Degrees, volume 3 Boston: Herndon, 1899, OCLC 706846, p. 130.
  3. Harvard University, President's Office, Report on Harvard University 14 (1917) p. 92.
  4. "To marry a Cambridge instructor," Boston Evening Transcript, August 28, 1912, p. 2.
  5. American Scandinavian Review 1 (1913) 2.
  6. David Stanley, Folklore in Utah: A History and Guide to Resources, Logan: Utah State University, 2004, ISBN 978-0-87421-588-5, p. 89.
  7. University of California, Berkeley, Register, 191920, 1920, p. 20.
  8. The American-Scandinavian Review 4 (1916) 197.
  9. Albert Muto, The University of California Press: The Early Years, 18931953, Berkeley: University of California, 1993, ISBN 978-0-520-91227-4, p. 89.
  10. Archer Taylor and Wayland D. Hand, "Twenty-Five Years of Folklore Study in the West," Western Folklore 25.4 (October 1966) 22945: "A later phase in Oregon folklore studies came in the late 1950s when Arthur Brodeur assumed a teaching position at the University of Oregon."
  11. Hal Johnson, "So We're Told: Scandinavian at University," Berkeley Daily Gazette, June 10, 1946, p. 8.
  12. Intellect 60 (1944) 138.
  13. Harvard Alumni Bulletin 47.6 (1944) p. 197.
  14. Wayland D. Hand, "Folklorists in the Rocky Mountain West," The Folklore Historian 3 (1986) 46, p. 5.
  15. Morgan, "A Howard Fan’s Journey to the 21st Century: Part 2: A Reprint of Interest," REHupa, The Robert E. Howard United Press Association, May 19, 2007.
  16. "Doom of the Gods, The," Our Books, Black Dog Books, retrieved February 27, 2012.
  17. "He Rules Who Can," Our Books, Black Dog Books, retrieved February 27, 2012.
  18. "Book Review: The Big Book of Adventure Stories, edited by Otto Penzler," Archived July 8, 2012, at National Post, June 17, 2011: "The book's very first story, and one of the best ones here, is ... 'The Golden Snare,' by Farnham Bishop and Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, a lush, spicy and action-packed tale of their series character, the heroic Lady Fulvia."
  19. "Writers' Club to Hold May Dinner," Berkeley Daily Gazette, April 27, 1926: "Arthur J. Brodeur, of the English Department, University of California, and Farnham Bishop, co-authors of the recent successful novel, 'The Altar of the Legion,' and regular contributors to Adventure, and other rough-paper periodicals."
  20. John Dewey, "Righting an Academic Wrong," letter to the editor, in Collected Works ed. Jo Ann Boydston, The Later Works: 19251953 Volume 11 19351937, Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University, 1987, ISBN 978-0-8093-1267-2, p. 530.
  21. Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, New York: Knopf, 2005, ISBN 978-0-375-41202-8, p. 140.
  22. David Pierpont Gardner, The California Oath Controversy, Berkeley: University of California, 1967, OCLC 564284, p. 289, note 27.
  23. "Group on UC Staff Fights Compromise: Professors Indicate Opposing Signing Papers Saying They're Not Reds," Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1950: "A group of professors at the University of California still showed 'fight' today against the idea of signing special papers that they are not Communists. ... Arthur G. Brodeur, chairman of the Department of Scandinavian Languages, told the meeting he could not 'in good conscience' sign ..."
  24. "Loyalty Oath Row Flares Anew at UC: Publication of Names Forecasts Fireworks at Regents' Meeting," Los Angeles Times, August 24, 1950: "The University of California's bitter loyalty oath dispute flared anew today with publication of names of 25 prominent professors who have refused to sign the oath. ... Arthur G. Brodeur, Ph.D., 62 professor of English with 34 years service at UC ..."
  25. Lawrence E. Davies, "California Court to Hear Oath Case; Meanwhile, Six of 31 Battling Non-Communist Statement at University Sign It," The New York Times, September 10, 1950: "The other recent signers of the statement were Dr. Arthur W. Brodeur ..."

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.