Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 decade ago

Who is John Gardner and what did he say about leadership?

I want to understand more about leadership so I plan to read about John Gardner's book "On Leadership".

Can someone explain someone personal background for me about Gardner?

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    John Champlin Gardner, Jr. (July 21, 1933 – September 14, 1982) was an American novelist and university teacher. He was a popular and controversial figure until his death in a motorcycle accident at the age of 49.

    Early life and education

    Born in Batavia, New York, Gardner's father was a lay preacher and dairy farmer; his mother taught English at a local school. His parents were very influential in his life. Both parents were fond of Shakespeare and often recited literature together. As a child, Gardner attended public school and worked on his father's farm, where, in April 1945 when Gardner was 11, his younger brother Gilbert was killed in an accident with a cultipacker. Gardner, who was driving the tractor during the fatal accident, carried the guilty feeling of responsibility for his brother's death throughout his life, suffering nightmares and flashbacks; the incident informed much of Gardner's fiction and criticism—most directly in the 1977 short story "Redemption", which included a fictionalized recounting of the accident.[1]

    Gardner began his university education at DePauw University, but received his undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1955. He received his M.A. from the University of Iowa.


    Gardner's most popular novels are: The Sunlight Dialogues, about a brooding, disenchanted policeman who is asked to engage a madman fluent in classical mythology; Grendel, a retelling of the Beowulf legend from the monster's point of view; and October Light, about an aging and embittered brother and sister living and feuding together in rural Vermont. This last novel won the National Book Critics' Circle Award in 1976. Each book features brutish, isolated figures struggling for integrity and understanding in an unforgiving society.

    Teaching and criticism

    Gardner was a lifelong teacher of fiction writing. He was a favorite at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. His two books on the craft of writing fiction—The Art of Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist—are considered classics. He was famously obsessive with his work, and acquired a reputation for advanced craft, smooth rhythms, and careful attention to the continuity of the fictive dream. At one level or another, his books nearly always touched on the redemptive power of art.

    In 1978, Gardner's book of literary criticism, On Moral Fiction, sparked a controversy that excited the mainstream media, vaulting Gardner into the spotlight with an interview on The Dick Cavett Show (May 16, 1978) and a cover story on The New York Times Magazine (July, 1979). His judgments of contemporary authors—including such luminaries of American fiction as John Updike and John Barth—which could be termed either direct, courageous, or unflattering, depending on one's perspective, harmed his relations with many in the publishing industry. Gardner claimed that lingering animosity from critics of this book led to the lukewarm critical reception of his final novel, Mickelsson's Ghosts. What was unfortunately lost in the furor over On Moral Fiction was Gardner's compelling thesis, perhaps the most clear articulation of his normative fictional philosophy: that fiction should be moral. Gardner meant "moral" not in the sense of narrow religious or cultural "morality," but rather that fiction should aspire to discover those human values that are universally sustaining. Gardner felt that few contemporary authors were "moral" in this sense, but instead indulged in "winking, mugging despair" (to quote his assessment of Thomas Pynchon) or trendy nihilism in which Gardner felt they did not honestly believe. Gore Vidal found the book, as well as Gardner's novels, sanctimonious and pedantic, and he called Gardner the "late apostle to the lowbrows, a sort of Christian evangelical who saw Heaven as a paradigmatic American university."[2]

    In 1994, Stewart O'Nan published "On Writers and Writing" a posthumous collection of Gardner's essays and reviews. His friend and former student Charles Johnson wrote an introduction that can be appreciated by the wider reading public.

    Gardner inspired, and some say also intimidated, his writing students. At Chico State University, when a young Raymond Carver mentioned to Gardner that he had read, but not liked, the assigned short story, Robert Penn Warren's "Blackberry Winter," Gardner said, "You'd better read it again." "And he wasn't joking," says Carver, who relates this anecdote in his foreword to Gardner's book On Becoming a Novelist. In that foreword, he makes it clear how much he respected Gardner, and also relates his extraordinary kindness. For example, when Gardner saw that Carver needed a place to write undisturbed, Gardner gave him a key to his office.

    John W. Gardner: Famous Leadership Quotes

    The cynic says, "One man can't do anything".

    I say, "Only one man can do anything."

  • LK
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    John W. Gardner (who died in 2002) was the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare during the Great Society (Johnson presidential years as I recall), and founder of Medicare, and Public Broadcasting.

    He wrote the book "On Leadership" in 1990.

    If you intend to look up more on him (there is more in Wiki) be sure to put that W. between John and Gardner, as there are many well-known John Gardners, and more than one author, as well as more than one in a position to write about leadership.

    Scroll down to check the list of works written if you're not sure you have the right Gardner: John W. Gardner.

    ADD: See? 'Plain' John Gardner was an "author and educator" who died in 1982, and he is the author of "Grendel," which is a good book for fiction regarding the Beowulf legend, written from Grendel's view. (Plus at least one more book, right, Vet?)

    Also, if you're going to ask about an author, I don't think you need to go much farther than Books and Authors, unless you research the author yourself.

    (C'mon to 'the Vet' --not even a thumbs up for getting it straightened out so you can add your link? You're making me laugh, guy. I'll give YOU a thumbs up, so you know next time. And as you see, this Gardner was much more than a business man.)

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