(1.1) New Critics and Academic Poets
Note on Terms
- American Postmodernist Literature = a term for all writing after Modernism
- American Postmodernist Poetry = a term for all poetry written after the year 1945
- mostly poet-teachers: Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, John Crowe Ransom
- a traditional poetic school with conservative tastes
- educated in the classics, well-read in the 17th century Metaphysical poets
- wrote regular, metrical poetry, rhymed or unrhymed, often in iambic pentameter
- directly influenced the Academic Poets
> Understanding Poetry by Brooks and Warren (1938): an anthology with commentaries
> The New Critics by Ransom (1941): an anthology of critical essays, gave name to the New Critics
- poets born in 1910s to 1920s, taught by Modernists, started publishing in 1940s to 1950s
- wrote difficult philosophical, intellectual, and sophisticated poetry, mostly rhymed with a fixed stanzaic pattern
- used a distant tone, suppressed emotions, mastered irony
- this mode of writing was prevailing in the period, free verse poetry was being neglected
William Meredith (b. 1919)
> "The Illiterate":
- uses the traditional form of the Petrarchan sonnet for the traditional concern with love
- does not rhyme very carefully, often uses identical words to produce absolute rhymes
- builds on the simile "I am like a man..."
- compares the inability of an illiterate man to read a letter to the inability of understanding and finding words for love
Howard Nemerov (1920 - 1991)
> "The Goose Fish":
- uses a careful form, employs rhymes, makes each stanza a closed unit in itself
- a detached narrator observes lover on the beach from a distance
- the beautiful atmosphere of romantic involvement is corrupted by the discovery of a dead fish
- contrasts the living lovers in encounter with the dead fish
- builds on the embarrassment of the lovers about the fish, develops philosophical ideas
- ironically ascribes an enormous importance to the dead fish
- uses humour, e.g. in describing the dead fish as a "rigid optimist"
Richard Wilbur (b. 1921)
> "The Pardon":
- an early poem in iambic pentameter with a fixed rhyme scheme of abab
- contrasts a boy's fear of the strangeness of death with an adult's respect paid to death
> "The Writer":
- a formally loose poem with no fixed feet pattern
- compares the writer's struggle for words and the struggle for life of a starling who gets entrapped in a room
- suggests that the both struggles are of equal vital importance
- applies marine terminology to the description of a house ("a chain hauled over a gunwale", "cargo", "lucky passage")
John Hollander (b. 1929)
> "Swan and Shadow":
- a visual poem in the vein of Guillaume Apollinaire or George Herbert
- gives a very careful outlines of a swan floating though dusk and its reflection in the water
- also a poem of philosophical contemplation
> "Variations on a Fragment by Trumbull Stickney":
- note: Trumbull Stickney was a minor 19th century American poet
- like Modernist poets uses an introductory quote which he further elaborates upon
- employs the rhyme scheme of aba throughout the whole poem, uses no other rhyming words
- unlike William Meredith's "The Illiterate" rhymes carefully with original rhymes
- develops parallel syntactic structures, uses the basic image of a river in a valley throughout the poem
- plays with words and meanings, creates analogies and contrasts opposites, develops associations
PředmětNorth American Poetry 1945 - 2002.
SemestrZimní semestr 2008/09.
StatusVolitelný seminář pro III. blok.
Flajšar, Jiří. Dějiny americké poezie. Ústí nad Orlicí: Oftis, 2006.
Jařab, Josef. American Poetry and Poets of Four Centuries. Praha: SPN, 1989.
Jařab, Josef, ed. Dítě na skleníku. Praha: Odeon, 1989.