Cultural critic Jacques Barzun dead at 104

Oct. 26, 2012 at 8:43 AM
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SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Jacques Barzun, the distinguished historian and cultural critic, has died in San Antonio, a friend said. He was 104.

Arthur Krystal, his friend and the executor of his estate, announced Barzun's death Thursday, The New York Times reported.

Barzun was a prolific writer, writing dozens of books and essay. At age 92, he published "From Dawn to Decadence," a look at 500 years of Western culture in which he contended Western culture was entering a period of decline.

Barzun was a consultant to Life magazine and his articles were published in the Saturday Evening Post. Mystery fiction and baseball also received his literary attention.

Barzun was honored for his work in both his native France and the United States. From France, he received the Legion of Honor, the country's highest award; President George W. Bush presented him with the Medal of Freedom.

He was born Nov. 30, 1907, in a suburb of Paris. His father was a diplomat and writer, and the family home was often visited by the writer Jean Cocteau and the painter Albert Gliezes.

Barzun began teaching at the age of 9, when many teachers went off to battle in World War I and older students had to teach younger students.

He received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1933, the same year he became a U.S. citizen.

Barzun is survived by his third wife, Marguerite, three children from his second marriage, 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

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