Kenneth Dover Marginal Comment: A Memoir.
Duckworth (London), 271 pages, £20

reviewed by John Gross

Sir Kenneth Dover, who was born in 1920, is one of the foremost classical scholars of his generation. He has also served as chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and president of the British Academy. A distinguished career, though not of a kind that you would expect to stir up much excitement beyond the world of learning. And then just before Christmas he published his autobiography, under the chaste title Marginal Comment, and found himself catapulted into the headlines of the London papers. Within a day or two, he had even become the subject of a front-page story in The New York Times.

While the book contains a great deal else of interest, the furor was the result of a single chapter, Dover’s account of what he calls the...


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