Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren: A Literary Correspondence

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James A. Grimshaw, Jr., brings together for the first time more than 350 letters exchanged by two scholars who altered the way literature is taught in this country. The selected letters focus on the development of their five major textbooks—the rationale for selections, the details involved in obtaining permissions and preparing indexes, and the demands of meeting deadlines. More important, these letters reveal their attitudes toward literature, teaching, and scholarship.

Providing insight into two of the most influential literary minds of this century, these letters show two men who were deeply involved in research and writing, and who were committed to a life of travel, conversation, and learning. Their zest for life and their love of literature explain, in part, their uncanny ability to persevere and to succeed. Yet their human qualities are also present in the letters, which bring Brooks and Warren to life as rare individuals able to sustain a deep, lifelong friendship.

Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren will help readers better understand the critical work of Brooks and the creative work of Warren. Students and teachers of American literature will find this book indispensable.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren] shows the working of two of America's best literary minds in an extraordinary collaboration over the span of five decades. It gives a kind of insight into the formulation and writing of literary criticism nowhere else available in such detail. One of the particularly valuable results is an intimate picture of these outstanding poets, critics, and scholars (and their families) in their warm and winning human dimension."—Joseph Blotner
Library Journal
Brooks and Warren met as teenagers in Nashville and remained friends for 65 years, teaching together at Louisiana State University and later Yale. Along the way, they collaborated on the enormously influential textbooks "Understanding Poetry" (1938) and "Understanding Fiction" (1943), which helped establish the New Criticism as the primary method of interpreting literary texts in this country. Grimshaw (regents professor. Texas A&M Univ.) has gathered 372 letters that detail their collaboration on these and other books. Nonspecialists will find little to savor here, though these letters and the new essays by colleagues from LSU (Simpson) and Yale (Lewis) will matter considerably to biographers of two literary giants as well as historians of a critical method that has fallen into disrepute among literary theorists yet that continues to shape reading practices in classrooms today.D avid Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826211651
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editor

James A. Grimshaw, Jr., is a Regents Professor of the Texas A&M University System in Commerce. He is the editor or author of numerous books, including Robert Penn Warren/Cleanth Brooks: Friends of Their Youth and Robert Penn Warren: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1922-1979.

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