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Noted English Scholar, Author Alfred Appel Dies at Age 75

May 5, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Alfred Appel, Jr., 75, of Wilmette, professor emeritus of English at Northwestern University where he taught for more than 30 years, died May 2, 2009 of heart failure at Evanston Hospital, Evanston, Ill.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday (May 6) at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, New York City.

A student of and a scholar of Vladimir Nabokov, Mr. Appel established himself as one of the world's leading critics of Nabokov, publishing "The Annotated Lolita" (in print since 1970; rev. ed. 1991) and "Nabokov's Dark Cinema" (1974).

Later in his career, he turned his attention to modern art in all its forms -- literature, photography, painting and music -- and published, all with Alfred A. Knopf, "Signs of Life" (1983); "The Art of Celebration: The Expression of Joy in 20th Century Art, Literature, Photography and Music" (1992) ("This extolment of the multifaceted riches of modernism is itself a work of art that elates you." Nicholas Fox Weber, The New York Times Book Review); and "Jazz Modernism: From Ellington and Armstrong to Matisse and Joyce" ("The first sustained attempt by any critic, musical or otherwise, to locate jazz in the larger context of modernism... Rarely if ever has a non-musician written about jazz so intelligently, and rarely has any musically trained critic brought to the study of jazz so wide a frame of cultural reference." Terry Teachout, Commentary.)

"Jazz Modernism" won the 2003 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for outstanding coverage of music. Mr. Appel also received a Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation; a Fellowship from The Rockefeller Foundation; and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as well. At the time of his death, Mr. Appel was deeply immersed in a new book, "Victory's Scrapbook: Warfare from Life, Leger, and Hemingway to Dick Tracy, Picasso, and Me." The work was about World War II and the effects upon the nation of subtle propaganda designed to prepare the public for the coming war. He was also working on a book about Louis Armstrong.

Mr. Appel, born Jan. 31, 1934, became emeritus professor at Northwestern in 2000. He received his BA and PhD in English Literature from Columbia University.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Nina S. Appel, the dean emerita and professor of law at Loyola University School of Law in Chicago; his mother, Beatrice H. Appel of New York, New York; his two children, Karen (Gene) Oshman of Houston, Texas, and Richard Appel of Los Angeles, Calif.; four grandchildren (Stephen and Katherine Oshman and Gabriel and Grace Jandali-Appel); his sister, Elizabeth A. Schaffer of New York, New York; and his brother, John Appel of Chicago.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Mr. Appel's name to the Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware 19806.
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