The Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature at Harvard University, Leo Damrosch has illuminated the lives and writings of figures from Samuel Johnson to Alexander Pope in his scholarly works. But it was his longtime fascination with an infamous Swiss philosopher that resulted in the National Book Award-nominated masterpiece, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius.
Leo Damrosch is the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature at Harvard University. He has written widely on 18th-century writers.
Author biography courtesy of Houghton Mifflin.
Good To Know
Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Damrosch:
"I love sports, and my high point as an athlete was at the University of Virginia, when I was 40, and our English Department intramural softball team beat the basketball team for the championship. I was the pitcher, and got their seven-foot-tall star to pop up four times. Nowadays, I'm confined to watching sports on TV, an interest that my family finds inexplicable. I still play pool, and juggle."
"I've developed a big lecture course at Harvard called "Wit and Humor" that combines films with literature and tries to combine serious inquiry into why we laugh with a good deal of actual laughing."
"I live with a cockatiel who regards himself as the head of the family but condescends to groom my beard."
"Ever since college I've had a passion for geology; I pay attention to rocks wherever I go, and I especially admire the big glacial erratics that litter New England and furnished the material for thousands of miles of stone walls."
"I've loved photography ever since my teens; I recently went digital, and some of my pictures of places Rousseau lived are in the biography."
"I love to travel. My family and I have had memorable stays in a little village in Provence, and also on the islands of St. John and Guadeloupe. Basking in a tropical ocean is my idea of perfection."