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Denton Snider


Writer, educator and literary critic, Denton Jacques Snider (1841-1925) was one of the original members of the St. Louis Philosophical Society. The Society was an association of Hegelians founded in 1866 by William Torrey Harris and Henry C. Brockmeyer, whom Snider met while teaching in the St. Louis schools. With his knowledge of Greek, Latin, French, German and Italian, Snider brought a love of literature, a fine critical sensibility and a breadth of outlook to the St. Louis group. He spent some time teaching classics in Susan Blow's kindergarten training school. An acrimonious parting of the ways resulted from Blow's disapproval of his independence and enthusiasm for pagan cultures. From 1884-97, Snider wrote and lectured, touring extensively, mainly in the Midwest (including speeches to the Grand Rapids Kindergarten Training School).
According to the Dictionary of American Biography, Snider was tall and slender, with black moustache and fiery manner. He would move "impetuously about the stage, checking his flow of eloquence only to chide severely the late-comers." To avoid the commercialization of his work, he published his writings himself, at his own expense, under the imprint of his Sigma Publishing Company. He made little if any money from the more than forty volumes he published, and often gave away copies to people attending his lectures who wanted to read them. Snider's earlier works, many of them in verse, deal with Greece and Rome (A Walk in Hellas, Homer in Chios, Prorsus Retrorsus, Agamemnon's Daughter). Between 1877 and 1897, he produced nine volumes of commentary on "the four literary bibles of the Occident"-Shakespeare's plays, Goethe's Faust, Homer's works and Dante's Divine Comedy. Later he embarked on an ambitious series of volumes intended to comprise a grand philosophic or "psychologic" system, which included works on history, science, psychology and political philosophy. Snider also wrote poetry and two autobiographical works, A Writer of Books in His Genesis (1910) and The St. Louis Movement in Philosophy, Literature, Education, Psychology, with Chapters of Autobiography (1920).

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