Idris Parry had wide-ranging literary interests but his major contribution to literary criticism was probably his work on Goethe and Kleist, and some of the major figures of German modernism such as Thomas Mann, Rilke, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Kafka. He was a gifted translator: his acclaimed translation of Kafka's The Trial was published by Penguin Books in 1994 and Philip Pullman, the author of the trilogy His Dark Materials, has acknowledged his intellectual debt to Parry's virtuoso translation of Kleist's essay, ‘On the Marionette Theatre’ (first published in Hand to Mouth and Other Essays in 1981). He was a frequent broadcaster on the BBC Third Programme in the 1960s and 1970s and many of these broadcast essays were published (e.g. in Speak Silence, 1988). He was friendly with the German writer Elias Canetti and he was instrumental in ensuring that the importance of Canetti's work was acknowledged in the UK. Parry was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of his services to modern German literature in 1981. His principal works were: Animals of Silence: Essays on Art, Nature and Folk-tale (OUP 1972), Hand to Mouth and Other Essays (Carcanet Press 1981), Speak Silence (Carcanet Press 1989), The Trial (translation, Penguin 1994).
During his time at Bangor he had met Eirwen Lloyd Jones from Penmaenmawr, Caernarfonshire (d. 1992), and they married in 1941. They had two daughters. Idris Parry died in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, on 25 January, 2008 and was cremated at Weeley (Essex).
Winifred V. Davies
Published date: 2008