In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

202Rocky Mountain Review This brief synopsis cannot do justice to the subtle force of Galperin's text. The prose is dense, and reading this book requires effort. Yet, his argument, that romanticism contains—in the form of repressed visible material—evident traces of resistance to meaning and comprehension, is compelling and deserves close attention. Those interested in the most recent efforts to define British romanticism truly ought to read this book. Poststructuralist reading had its heyday in the eighties; Galperin is consciously trying to move romantic studies one step beyond. WILLIAM STEPHEN DAVIS Colorado College JEFFREY A. HAMMOND. Edward Taylor: Fifty Years of Scholarship and Criticism. Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1993. 169 p. Jeffrey A. Hammond is to be commended for producing a readable extended bibliographical essay in Edward Taylor: Fifty Years of Scholarship and Criticism. While certainly not everyone's cup of scholarly tea, Hammond's book will satisfy those interested in trends in American literary and cultural studies over the last fifty years, as well, of course, as those more specifically interested in Taylor and Puritan studies. It is no mean feat to judiciously review more than four hundred articles and books in fewer than a hundred and fifty pages of text. Hammond guides his readers through this forest of material with a clear style and a ready plot, a plot of progressive revelation, doubtlessly pleasing to most young critics who are assured that "more work needs to be done" and that the whole truth about Taylor and his times still awaits their future publications. After a rather off-putting and self-serving preface in which Hammond agrees with the gist of Karl Keller's joke that Taylor "criticism often looks better than the poet does" (xi), Hammond approaches his subject historically , dividing Taylor scholarship and criticism into five periods. The titles of the second and third chapters, "First Fruits" and "Maturation," underscore the biological metaphor Hammond uses to give his study a progressive , mythic structure. Especially at the beginning and close of his chapters, he places developments in Taylor studies within the wider context of critical debate and cultural change. Toward the close of the second chapter, for example , he offers this retrospective: Although Taylor's phenomenal rise owed much to the popularity of the English metaphysicals, it was clear by 1970 that to read him required a reconstruction—as far as possible—of his uniquely Puritan mental world view. The urgency of this task helped Taylor survive the decline of a New Critical aesthetic, even though his sudden entry onto the literary scene had been smoothed by the apparent capacity of his verse to satisfy that aesthetic, however unevenly. The gradual return to criticism of Book Reviews203 contextual approaches—questions of authorial intention, source, audience, intellectual milieu, and other extratextual considerations —squared well with the realization that the nature of Taylor's Puritan imagination was only just beginning to be understood. (53-4) From the tone of this passage, it is not surprising to learn that, in his own criticism, "Hammond opposed the New Critical isolation of [Taylor's] texts" (106-07); the end of New Criticism marks the beginning of wisdom. Those who de-historicized and de-Puritanized Taylor are seen as the agents of literary nationialism and as blind to Taylor's true merits and meaning. Roy Harvey Pearce serves as Hammond's whipping boy several times (17, 40, 75); those of us who have been inspired by the celebration of Taylor as the model American poet in Pearce's The Continuity of American Poetry (1961) stand corrected. Hammond is not unaware of the irony that just as proper understanding via New Historicism was being achieved, Taylor and his fellow Puritans were being denied their central position in American culture: "As pluralistic social perspectives and historicized aesthetic perspectives began to influence the profession, it became harder to see Taylor as representative of an 'American' literary tradition. Which America? Whose literature? And finally , Which Taylor?" (123). Hammond might also have mentioned that, in the scholarship and anthologies, Taylor has of late lost some ground to Anne Bradstreet, perceived to be a more marginalized and conflicted Puritan poet than Taylor, and thus more accessible to...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 202-203
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.