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  • G-8 Criticism of Poetry

A Books

Beach, Christopher ed. AN ANTHOLOGY OF NEW POETICS. University of Alabama Press, 1998. xi + 354 pp. No price listed.

Bernstein, Charles. MY WAY: SPEECHES AND POEMS. University of Chicago Press, 1999. xii + 321 pp. $46.00 cloth, $18.00 paper.

Bloom, Harold. THE ANXIETY OF INFLUENCE: A THEORY OF POETRY. Second Edition. Oxford University Press, 1997. xlvii + 157 pp. $11.95 paper.

The second edition of this book makes available to another generation of scholars and literary enthusiasts the manner in which Bloom’s six revisionary ratios illuminate the process of poetic [End Page 475] influence. His theory describes the stances available for the ephebe to assume toward his predecessor in order for him to clear creative space, incorporating mainly Nietzsche’s “will to power” and Freud’s family romance. His statement that the “profundities of poetic influence cannot be reduced to source-study, to the history of ideas, to the patterning of images” sums up his challenge to understand the “poet-as-poet,” which (regretfully) so few have accepted. It is difficult to think of another scholar with such breath of comprehension and appreciation. The new edition includes what had been missing in the first, a preface that accounts for the influence of Marlowe on Shakespeare, which can be seen as complement to Bloom’s new book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, as well as to his groundbreaking work on the Romantics. He also renames his “Anxiety of Influence” as the “Anguish of Contamination.” SSS

Davidson, Michael. GHOSTLIER DEMARCATIONS: MODERN POETRY AND THE MATERIAL WORD. University of California Press, 1997. xvi + 273 pp., illus. $35.00.


Hollander, John. THE WORK OF POETRY. Columbia University Press, 1997. 318 pp. $30.00.

John Hollander is one of our best poet-critics. His essays, like those of Blackmur and Winters, will probably become standards. He arranges this collection of twenty-three essays into three parts: “Poetic Substances” (dealing with such difficult subjects as “originality,” “the work of poetry”); “Poetic Experiences” (writing on more personal topics—such as discovering Wallace Stevens or his adolescent encounter with the Psalms (in both Hebrew and the King James version); and “The Work of Poets,” a section which contains wonderful close readings of Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Geoffrey Hill, and, surprisingly, Edgar Lee Masters and May Swenson.

Hollander’s somewhat risky explications of Joseph Trumbull Stickney or Masters or Lewis Cornell’s verse remind us that Hollander can move beyond the canon. Although he knows—really knows—metrics, he is not a solemn academic. We should remember his interest in popular culture, his wonderful poem, “Movie-Going,” his early review of Lolita. Hollander cannot resist seeing patterns, variations of a theme. He is a kind of poetic spy. I remember his own poems of espionage, as well as his interest in numerology, the “powers of thirteen.”

This collection is amazing. I must admit that I tried to find one error—one example of Hollander’s imperfection. I think, finally, that I did. Although he mentions Yvor Winters’ dislike of Stevens, he does not remember that Winters, in his characteristic “law-giving” way, cited “Sunday Morning” as one of the greatest poems in the last two hundred years. That minor quibble aside, this collection is a rare, wise delight. IM

Hufstader, Jonathan. TONGUE OF WATER, TEETH OF STONES: NORTHERN IRISH POETRY AND SOCIAL VIOLENCE. University Press of Kentucky, 1999. 192 pp. $34.94 cloth. [End Page 476]

Johnston, Dillon. IRISH POETRY AFTER JOYCE. Second Edition. Syracuse University Press, 1997. xxiii + 384 pp. $16.95 paper.

Leavis, F.R. REVALUATION: TRADITION AND DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLISH POETRY. Introduction by Paul Dean. Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 1998. 274 pp. No price listed.

Marks, Emerson R. TAMING THE CHAOS: ENGLISH POETIC DICTION THEORY SINCE THE RENAISSANCE. Wayne State University Press, 1998. 413 pp. $39.95.

Martin, Robert K. AUTHOR SKETCHES: HISTORY OF HOMOEROTIC POETRY FROM WALT WHITMAN TO REGINALD SHEPHERD. University of Iowa Press, 1998. 280 pp. $18.95 paper.

Scigah, Leonard M. SUSTAINABLE POETRY: FOUR AMERICAN ECOPOETS. University Press of Kentucky...

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