The Professor was Rex Warner's second vel, published in 1938, only a year after his groundbreaking first vel, The Wild Goose Chase. It is one of the most extraordinary and enduring political vels from the 1930s and further confirmed Warner's status as a major writer. A Professor of Classics is appointed Chancellor of his (unnamed) country, under threat from both the government of a neighbouring country and its own fascist party. The Professor is a staunch believer in the liberal values his own country espouses but considers himself 'above politics', in contrast with his son, a revolutionary. The Professor's conviction that he must t enter into the political arena means that he finds himself unable to defend his liberal beliefs, even as he and his country are thrown into chaos. The consequences are violent and shocking.
Reginald Ernest [Rex] Warner (1906-1986) was a poet, novelist, classicist and translator. While studying classics and English at Oxford, he became involved with a group of young writers including W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis. After leaving Oxford he was a teacher and travelled in Egypt before publishing his first novel in 1937, The Wild Goose Chase. He was the director of the British Institute in Athens in the 1940s and then went on to teach in various American universities. Later in life he wrote many novels and works of non-fiction about Ancient Greece and Rome, including Imperial Caesar, which won the 1960 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, and as well as translating numerous classical works.