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Geoffrey Hartman, 86

posted: Mar 14, 2016 2:30 pm

Geoffrey Hartman, who escaped the Nazis as a child and lived to become a world-renowned scholar of English literature, died Monday.

Hartman was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on Aug. 11, 1929. His family in Germany sent him to England in 1939 on the famed Kindertransport of children saved from the Nazis’ mass extermination of Jews.

Hartman reunited with his mother in the U.S. in 1946. He became a Sterling professor of English and Comparative Literature at Yale.

“My interests are predominantly in the study of poetry and issues of interpretation. But I suspect I am at heart an essayist always finding something of basic human and social interest,” Hartman wrote.

Hartman helped found the Fortunoff Video Archives for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University. As a scholar, he was associated with the “deconstruction” school of criticism, which challenges traditional modes of interpreting literature. His published works include Wordsworth’s Poetry (1964); Beyond Formalism (1970); Criticism in the Wilderness (1980); The Longest Shadow: In the Aftermath of the Holocaust (1996); The Geoffrey Hartman Reader (2004).

He is survived by his beloved wife, Renee (Gross) Hartman; daughter Liz Hartman and her fiance’ Steve Comen; son David Hartman; and grandson Shel Mizrahi.

Funeral services are scheduled to take place at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, 80 Wall St., New Haven Wednesday at 11 a.m. followed by a private interment. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Fortunoff Video Archives for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University.  The family will receive friends on Thursday afternoon from 4 until 6 p.m. at the Whitney Center, 200 Leeder Hill Dr., Hamden. Funeral Arrangements in care of Robert E. Shure Funeral Home, New Haven.

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