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By Verlyn Klinkenborg
I met Frank Kermode, who died Tuesday at age 90, more than 20 years ago over coffee at Columbia University, where he was teaching. I had come to propose writing a profile about him, a project that went nowhere mainly because the magazine I had hoped to write for didn’t write about literary critics in those days. Kermode didn’t dismiss the idea, and so I heard, that afternoon, about the Isle of Man, where he was born in “a herringless winter,” as he later wrote.