Jacques Barzun (pictured) , who died Thursday night at the age of 104, was an American cultural critic and historian. He spent his long career entirely at Columbia University, holding positions from lecturer to dean of faculties. He wrote numerous essays, reviews and books on history, culture, education, music, and the intellectual life. He published a “surprise bestseller,” From Dawn to Decadence, at the age of 92.
Among working writers, he is also known for Simple & Direct, a concise book of grammar and usage. Mr. Barzun said he wrote the book to “resensitize the mind to words.” He achieved that goal with a great many writers, to our lifelong benefit.
The Takeaway: Farewell to Jacques Barzun, a peerless teacher of writers.