William H. Gass was The David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Washington University. He received his B.A. in philosophy from Kenyon College and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. He taught at Purdue before joining the philosophy faculty at Washington University in 1969. In 1990 he founded the International Writers Center in Arts & Sciences and served as its director until 2000. The New York Times named him “one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of his generation.” Professor Gass was author of the novels Omensetter’s Luck (1966), The Tunnel (1995), and Middle C (2013), as well as the novella Willie Master’s Lonesome Wife (1968) and the story collections In the Heart of the Heart of the Country and Other Stories (1968), Cartesian Sonata (1998) and Eyes (2015). In his 1970 essay “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction,” Gass coined the term “metafiction” to refer to works of imagination that self-consciously reflect their status as such. In 1997 Gass received the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for his fiction and essays. In 2000 he won the PEN/Nabokov Award for Reading Rilke and the PEN/Nabokov Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his other honors were four Pushcart Prizes and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. Professor Gass won the National Book Critics Circle Award an unprecedented three times, for the essay collections Habitations of the Word (1978), Finding a Form (1996) and Tests of Time (2003). Other books include Fiction and the Figures of Life (1971), On Being Blue (1976), The World Within the Word (1978), Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation (1999) and Life Sentences (2012). The William Gass Reader is forthcoming from Knopf.
William Gass served in the United States Navy from 1943-1946.