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HUMANITIES 177 appear and drift close and then float off to be replaced by even newer and gaudier ones (after Auden comes Dylan Thomas, Sitwell, Barker, and a dozen more, some of whose names we can scarcely remember, but all of them, it has to be realized, potential trendsetters and everlasters at the time). McCarthy charts these shapers and sometimes-ephemeral icons with a sure hand, quotes from Gustafson's poems as the decade of the 1930s draws to an end, as the war begins, as heroes fade or tum doubtful (Hopkins sidles off, Auden and Isherwood head prudently for the United States), as the postwar era arrives and the climate alters yet again. Pound, he notes, is an ambivalent presence: admired, to a degree followed in Gustafson's own Protean poetics, but kept at a wary distance, too ('the Poundians ... by and large ... are not writing well'). It's this sort of subtle direction-pointing which I respect in this book: McCarthy is, as he promised, not theme- or parable-hunting, Procrustes finds nothing to do here, what fits is said to fit and what does not fit is described in its own sui generis likeness. If this is unfashionable, and it is, it is all the more admirable. It is also, when one considers its subject and his centrality in our culture, oddly personal to all of us, and unexpectedly moving. Much more could be said or quoted. 'A poem is superior to the extent that the verbal music heard is the meaning; otherwise, it is prose.' (How much of what passes for poetry, now and in any age and any country, doesn't make it past this bugle-call.) I have omitted more than I have even hinted at. This text will take you on a journey over the terrain of Canadian poetry at a ground-level of visibility you may not have experienced before. Northrop Frye for all his magisterial pronunciamenti never tried to, or never could, anyhow never did, get half so close to the real living-and-breathing figures in our landscape as you will find here. Intended, and rightly so, as a study of a genuinely (as opposed to trippingly-on-the-media's-tongues) major Canadian poet, McCarthy's book ends up with a bonus, putting a clear light on over half-a-century of poetry's mood-changes. (DON COLES) A.M. Klein. Complete Poems: Part 1, Original Poems, 1926-1990; Part 2, Original Poems, 1937- 1955, and Poetry Translations. Edited by Zailig Pollock University of Toronto Press. Ii, 1115. $125.00 Zailig Pollock's two-volume edition of A.M. Klein's poetry surpasses the high editorial standards already established in The Collected Works devoted to the short stories, essays, and journalism. As if to redress the overshadowing of Klein by the Bronfmans in Mordecai Richler's Solomon Gursky Was Here and Michael Marrus's biography, Mr Sam, the A.M. Klein Research and Publication Committee has succeeded in canonizing 178 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 the father of Canadian Jewish literature. These substantial volumes serve as monuments testifying to the output of a poet whose last seventeen years were spent in silence. In its perceptive emphasis on the relationship of the creative individual to his community, Pollock's Introduction provides a useful account of the poet's career. This dialectical tension is indeed central to an understanding of the development of Klein's career and of his final years of silence. As important as Pollock's Introduction (at the beginning of the first volume) are his Textual Notes and Explanatory Notes (at the end of each volume). The editorial policy of arranging the poems chronologically makes good sense, despite the admitted difficulty of dating. Not to distinguish between published and unpublished poems is a thorny issue for the editor in his organizing principles: 'the unpublished and uncollected poems include some of Klein's best (although, admittedly, most of his best poems were included in the published collections).' That kind of evaluative qualification would seem to pit Klein's judgment against Pollock's. Like the decision in favour of chronological arrangement , the editorial policy of using the latest versions as copy...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 177-179
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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