A writer and teacher, he broke new ground and greatly influenced the world of American literature, pop culture, and gender studies. As noted by biographer Mark Winchell, “Before Fiedler, hardly any literary critics discussed race and sexuality in American literature. Since him, they hardly talk about anything else.”
For 23 years, he taught and traveled widely from his base in Missoula. He rocked the university by challenging university president Carl McFarland, bringing in outstanding faculty, and hosting great writers, such as
W. H. Auden and William Faulkner. The Fiedler family left for Buffalo, New York, in the mid-1960s, and his writing turned to popular culture.
He admitted to “a low tolerance for detached chronicling and cool analysis”. He wrote, “I long for the raised voice, the howl of rage or love.” There is little doubt that Leslie Fiedler became one of the most provocative and influential literary critics of his generation.
*Sam Tanenhaus,“Fear and Loathing”, Slate Magazine, February 4, 2003.
Photography of Fiedler: Lee Nye, provided by Jean Belangie-Nye.
Other sources: Andrew Rosenheim. Stephen Wigler, The Baltimore Sun, March 9, 1992.