Denis Dutton was one of the most prominent patrons of the arts of the 21st century. This fact has only become apparent in the past 10 days, as writers and editors have begun to think about his legacy in the wake of his death from prostate cancer at the age of 66.
The unexpected news of Dutton's passing left many of us feeling stunned and guiltily remiss. The shock came in part because Dutton had kept his illness private and had never given any obvious sign of weakening powers. The guilt was due to the realization that his contributions to contemporary intellectual life had never been properly esteemed during his lifetime.
Most readers knew of Denis Dutton—if they knew of him at all—as the creator of a popular website, Arts & Letters Daily. To writers and editors, he was an influential arbiter of culture to whom we appealed to help promote our work. The reality is that he did more for serious cultural criticism than any other figure in the Internet age. Dutton's life was rich and varied—he was, often concurrently, a professor, philosopher, writer, editor and entrepreneur. But it is for his website, launched in 1998, that he will be remembered.
Monday, 10 January 2011
From the Wall Street Journal: