The Collected Prose of Robert Frost

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Overview

During his lifetime, Robert Frost notoriously resisted collecting his prose--going so far as to halt the publication of one prepared compilation and to "lose" the transcripts of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures he delivered at Harvard in 1936. But for all his qualms, Frost conceded to his son that "you can say a lot in prose that verse won't let you say," and that the prose he had written had in fact "made good competition for [his] verse." This volume, the first critical edition of Robert Frost's prose, allows readers and scholars to appreciate the great American author's forays beyond poetry, and to discover in the prose that he did make public--in newspapers, magazines, journals, speeches, and books--the wit, force, and grace that made his poetry famous.

The Collected Prose of Robert Frost offers an extensive and illuminating body of work, ranging from juvenilia--Frost's contributions to his high school Bulletin--to the charming "chicken stories" he wrote as a young family man for The Eastern Poultryman and Farm Poultry, to such famous essays as "The Figure a Poem Makes" and the speeches and contributions to magazines solicited when he had become the Grand Old Man of American letters. Gathered, annotated, and cross-referenced by Mark Richardson, the collection is based on extensive work in archives of Frost's manuscripts. It provides detailed notes on the author's habits of composition and on important textual issues and includes much previously unpublished material. It is a book of boundless appeal and importance, one that should find a home on the bookshelf of anyone interested in Frost.

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Editorial Reviews

Daily Telegraph

An untidy but wonderful heap of introductions, dedications, lists, autobiographical sketches and aphorisms. There are stories for children and pieces for presidential inaugurations.
— Niall Griffiths

The Guardian

This book contains a lot of interesting and important insights into poetry, into the processes of poetic composition and poetic form, poetic influence and structure and meaning...This is the first collection of Frost's prose—the stories, the lectures, the prefaces, the essays—and is a significant addition to the long and growing shelf of Frost scholarly editions and criticisms...There is page after page in the Collected Prose of this slightly grand and teasing and ironic sort of talk...Reading the prose, finding him saying one thing in terms of another, the pleasure of ulteriority is ours also. In the Collected Prose we find, to borrow a phrase from his poem "Two Tramps in Mud Time," "The lurking frost in the earth beneath."
— Ian Sansom

New York Sun

Mark Richardson has brought together, in one meticulously edited volume, all the articles, introductions, press releases, and lectures, along with some especially significant letters, which Frost himself readied for print but never saw fit to publish...Frost's startling insights into the poetic process, as well as his frequent jokes, are all the more effective for being bluntly delivered...[Richardson's] extensive notes offer a wealth of information, often drawn from unpublished sources, which wonderfully illuminate Frost's intentions.
— Eric Ormsby

Washington Times

Mark Richardson...has an alert and discriminating mind. In the course of his 130 pages of explanatory notes, Mr. Richardson had the wit to include selections from conversations with Frost that Frost's biographer, Lawrance Thompson, wrote down but unaccountably didn't include or take into consideration for the biography...Even though Frost is the least obviously obscure and difficult of the major 20th-century American poets, he is also the least clearly understood of them, perhaps because of the enduring darkness and confusion that he asks us to accept...and accept with grace. It should also be said of these writings that Frost is a very natural and elegant prose stylist in many forms, not least in the charming and light-fingered, sleight-of-hand stories, included here, that he wrote for his own children. In or out of prose, he honors our lonely freedom enough to leave many sayings for his reader to finish for himself.
— Robert Ganz

Boston Globe

This [is a] welcome edition of Frost's prose, 76 items ranging from a paragraph to a few pages, edited by Mark Richardson in exemplary fashion...One hundred years later we have not taken the measure of many of the radical thoughts that fill these meditative monologues.
— William H. Pritchard

Washington Post Book World

Mark Richardson has given us the fullest critical edition of Frost's prose ever published, including everything "Frost is known to have prepared for print, major and minor items alike." Beginning with pieces he wrote while in high school, The Collected Prose of Robert Frost presents his stories, speeches, talks and essays. Examples of his wit and insight abound.
— Ron Charles

Bookforum

One's overwhelming impression, on finishing the book, is of respectful love: Richardson's for Frost, and Frost's for the English language. If this love comes joined to an ironic wit in both cases, that is all to the good. The portrait of Frost that Richardson conveys in his introduction is alone worth the price of the book, for it seizes on precisely those moments when the poet revealed both his sense of vocation and his sense of comedy. No doubt he could not have had one without the other; and this volume, despite its chicken-farming stories (one of which is actually quite good), should go some way toward dispelling the image of Robert Frost as a platitudinous, straw-chewing naïf.
— Wendy Lesser

Seven Oaks

The book follows Frost from high school to the grave and includes not only important statements on his art but a great many minor curiosities that show the kind of prose chores the contemporary poet must undertake.
— George Fetherling

New York Review of Books

A meticulously edited collection of Frost's prose.
— Christopher Benfey

The Independent

By turns gnomic and practical, his thoughts on the writing process, the importance to poetry of sound—"The surest way to reach the heart is through the ear"—and his distinction of metre and rhythm might not amount to a primer, but are essential for anyone interested in the art.
— Stephen Knight

Threepenny Review

Taken as a whole, this prose collection is a delightful miscellany...And how wonderful to have this—short fiction by a young Robert Frost! In these stories, the personality of Frost's New Englander begins to appear, the philosophical, laconic, chthonic fellow we see in the later-published narrative poetry like "Home Burial" and "Death of the Hired Man" and "Two Tramps in Mud Time."
— Louis B. Jones

The Independent
By turns gnomic and practical, his thoughts on the writing process, the importance to poetry of sound--"The surest way to reach the heart is through the ear"--and his distinction of metre and rhythm might not amount to a primer, but are essential for anyone interested in the art.
— Stephen Knight
New York Review of Books
A meticulously edited collection of Frost's prose.
— Christopher Benfey
Seven Oaks
The book follows Frost from high school to the grave and includes not only important statements on his art but a great many minor curiosities that show the kind of prose chores the contemporary poet must undertake.
— George Fetherling
Publishers Weekly

Frost was a highly prolific if disorganized, writer of prose, penning pieces for newspapers, magazines and events that were never collected in book form during his life. Following The Notebooks of Robert Frost (2007), this volume brings together all the prose written for publication by America's most famous poet-some previously unpublished, some long available in other editions-along with helpful notes by Richardson, professor of English at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. While many of these pieces are brief and of interest mostly to Frost scholars-such as a letter to the editor of Poetry praising a recent issue or multiple responses to magazines asking Frost to list his favorite books ("1-The Old Testament./ 2- 'The Odyssey,' by Homer")-there are many major pieces too, such as the well-known "The Figure a Poem Makes," which includes Frost's famous statement, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." Also included is "The Last Refinement of Subject Matter: Vocal Imagination," a treatise on the sentence as musical notation: "The sentence must never leave the reader in doubt for a moment as to how the voice is to be placed in it." Frost's earthy voice and rigorous intellect are on full display in this essential book for poetry lovers. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This comprehensive collection of Frost's prose is a supplement to Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose and Plays , which Richardson (English, Doshisha Univ., Kyoto, Japan) coedited with Richard Poirier. Unlike the 1995 book, this title contains every work of prose that Frost "prepared for print," including a wide range of materials, for example, prefaces, speeches, talks, newspaper columns and stories (including his high school newspaper), and essays. The book's chronological order and broad scope provide the reader with a full view of Frost's prose. Richardson's real contribution to the field of Frost literature is his enlightening notes section. Although they are separated from the works, the notes provide a brief but informative introduction to each piece's composition and a bit of biography. Recommended for all libraries.-Paolina Taglienti, Las Vegas Coll., NV

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal

Frost was a highly prolific if disorganized, writer of prose, penning pieces for newspapers, magazines and events that were never collected in book form during his life. Following The Notebooks of Robert Frost (2007), this volume brings together all the prose written for publication by America's most famous poet-some previously unpublished, some long available in other editions-along with helpful notes by Richardson, professor of English at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. While many of these pieces are brief and of interest mostly to Frost scholars-such as a letter to the editor of Poetry praising a recent issue or multiple responses to magazines asking Frost to list his favorite books ("1-The Old Testament./ 2- 'The Odyssey,' by Homer")-there are many major pieces too, such as the well-known "The Figure a Poem Makes," which includes Frost's famous statement, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." Also included is "The Last Refinement of Subject Matter: Vocal Imagination," a treatise on the sentence as musical notation: "The sentence must never leave the reader in doubt for a moment as to how the voice is to be placed in it." Frost's earthy voice and rigorous intellect are on full display in this essential book for poetry lovers. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
David Cowart
As a near-comprehensive, definitive, and convenient edition of Frost's prose, The Collected Prose of Robert Frost is an invaluable tool. Its critical introduction and notes are superb--graceful, perspicacious, focused, discriminating, and deeply informed. This edition offers accurate texts and more of Frost's prose than has been gathered elsewhere. It will be definitive.
Jonathan Levin
A major contribution to the field, The Collected Prose of Robert Frost is a first-rate work of editorial scholarship, that gains from the editor's comprehensive and intimate familiarity with Frost's life and work, as well as with the vast secondary literature on both. The textual notes provide the best and in many cases, only available account of the textual history of Frost's prose. This volume will fill an important need for anyone interested in Frost's poetry and prose.
Daily Telegraph - Niall Griffiths
An untidy but wonderful heap of introductions, dedications, lists, autobiographical sketches and aphorisms. There are stories for children and pieces for presidential inaugurations.
The Guardian - Ian Sansom
This book contains a lot of interesting and important insights into poetry, into the processes of poetic composition and poetic form, poetic influence and structure and meaning...This is the first collection of Frost's prose--the stories, the lectures, the prefaces, the essays--and is a significant addition to the long and growing shelf of Frost scholarly editions and criticisms...There is page after page in the Collected Prose of this slightly grand and teasing and ironic sort of talk...Reading the prose, finding him saying one thing in terms of another, the pleasure of ulteriority is ours also. In the Collected Prose we find, to borrow a phrase from his poem "Two Tramps in Mud Time," "The lurking frost in the earth beneath."
New York Sun - Eric Ormsby
Mark Richardson has brought together, in one meticulously edited volume, all the articles, introductions, press releases, and lectures, along with some especially significant letters, which Frost himself readied for print but never saw fit to publish...Frost's startling insights into the poetic process, as well as his frequent jokes, are all the more effective for being bluntly delivered...[Richardson's] extensive notes offer a wealth of information, often drawn from unpublished sources, which wonderfully illuminate Frost's intentions.
Washington Times - Robert Ganz
Mark Richardson...has an alert and discriminating mind. In the course of his 130 pages of explanatory notes, Mr. Richardson had the wit to include selections from conversations with Frost that Frost's biographer, Lawrance Thompson, wrote down but unaccountably didn't include or take into consideration for the biography...Even though Frost is the least obviously obscure and difficult of the major 20th-century American poets, he is also the least clearly understood of them, perhaps because of the enduring darkness and confusion that he asks us to accept...and accept with grace. It should also be said of these writings that Frost is a very natural and elegant prose stylist in many forms, not least in the charming and light-fingered, sleight-of-hand stories, included here, that he wrote for his own children. In or out of prose, he honors our lonely freedom enough to leave many sayings for his reader to finish for himself.
Boston Globe - William H. Pritchard
This [is a] welcome edition of Frost's prose, 76 items ranging from a paragraph to a few pages, edited by Mark Richardson in exemplary fashion...One hundred years later we have not taken the measure of many of the radical thoughts that fill these meditative monologues.
Washington Post Book World - Ron Charles
Mark Richardson has given us the fullest critical edition of Frost's prose ever published, including everything "Frost is known to have prepared for print, major and minor items alike." Beginning with pieces he wrote while in high school, The Collected Prose of Robert Frost presents his stories, speeches, talks and essays. Examples of his wit and insight abound.
Bookforum - Wendy Lesser
One's overwhelming impression, on finishing the book, is of respectful love: Richardson's for Frost, and Frost's for the English language. If this love comes joined to an ironic wit in both cases, that is all to the good. The portrait of Frost that Richardson conveys in his introduction is alone worth the price of the book, for it seizes on precisely those moments when the poet revealed both his sense of vocation and his sense of comedy. No doubt he could not have had one without the other; and this volume, despite its chicken-farming stories (one of which is actually quite good), should go some way toward dispelling the image of Robert Frost as a platitudinous, straw-chewing naïf.
Seven Oaks - George Fetherling
The book follows Frost from high school to the grave and includes not only important statements on his art but a great many minor curiosities that show the kind of prose chores the contemporary poet must undertake.
New York Review of Books - Christopher Benfey
A meticulously edited collection of Frost's prose.
The Independent - Stephen Knight
By turns gnomic and practical, his thoughts on the writing process, the importance to poetry of sound--"The surest way to reach the heart is through the ear"--and his distinction of metre and rhythm might not amount to a primer, but are essential for anyone interested in the art.
Threepenny Review - Louis B. Jones
Taken as a whole, this prose collection is a delightful miscellany...And how wonderful to have this--short fiction by a young Robert Frost! In these stories, the personality of Frost's New Englander begins to appear, the philosophical, laconic, chthonic fellow we see in the later-published narrative poetry like "Home Burial" and "Death of the Hired Man" and "Two Tramps in Mud Time."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674034679
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Richardson is Professor of English at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Abbreviations

1. Articles and Editorials from the Lawrence, Massachusetts, High School Bulletin (1891-92)

[Five Unsigned Editorials (September 1891)]

[Two Unsigned Editorials (October 1891)]

[Three Unsigned Editorials (November 1891)]

Petra and Its Surroundings (December 1891)

Physical Culture (December 1891)

The Charter Oak at Hartford (December 1891)

M. Bonner, Deceased (December 1891)

[Three Unsigned Editorials (December 1891)]

L.H.S.D.U. Unofficial Report (December 1891)

[Four Editorials (May 1892)]

A Monument to After-Thought Unveiled (June 1892)

2. [The American About and Abroad (1895)]

3. [Children's Stories]

4. Stories for Eastern Poultryman and Farm-Poultry 1903-1905

Trap Nests (February 1903)

A Just Judge (March 1903)

A Start in the Fancy (July 1903)

The Question of a Feather (July 15, 1903)

Old Welch Goes to the Show (August 15, 1903)

The Original and Only (September 1, 1903)

Three Phases of the Poultry Industry (December 15, 1903)

The Cockerel Buying Habit (February 1, 1904)

"The Same Thing Over and Over" (March 1, 1904)

The Universal Chicken Feed (April 1, 1904)

Dalkins' Little Indulgence: A Christmas Story (December 15, 1905)

5. Three Articles Associated with Pinkerton Academy (1906-1910)

[Article for the Pinkerton Academy Catalogue (1906-07)]

[Drama at Pinkerton: A Series of Entertainments for the Benefit of the Academy Critic (1910)]

[Description of English Curriculum, Pinkerton Academy Catalogue (1919-11)]

6. [Remarks on Form in Poetry (1919)]

7. [Address before the Amherst Alumni Council (1919)]

8. [Address in Memory of J. Warner Fobes (December 1, 1920)]

9. [Some Definitions by Robert Frost (1923)]

10. [Preface to Memoirs of the Notorious Stephen Burroughs (1924)]

11. The Poetry of Amy Lowell (1925)

12. [Marion Leroy Burton and Education (1925)]

13. [Introduction to The Arts Anthology of Dartmouth Verse 1925]

14. [Poet—One of the Truest (1928)]

15. [Introduction to The Cow's in the Corn (1929)]

16. [Preface to A Way Out (1929)]

17. [Address at the Dedication of the Davison Memorial Library (1930)]

18. Education by Poetry: A Meditative Monologue (1931)

19. [Autobiographical Sketch (1933)]

20. [Comment on "Birches" (1933)]

21. ["Letter" to The Amherst Student (1935)]

22. [Introduction to King Jasper (1935)

23. [Contribution to Books We Like (1936)]

24. [Introduction to Sarah Cleghorn's Threescore (1936)]

25. [Contribution to The Stag at Ease (1938)]

26. [Letter to the Editor of New Hampshire: A Guide (1938)]

27. The Doctrine of Excursions (1939)

28. The Figure a Poem Makes (1939)

29. [Remarks Accepting the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1939)]

30. The Last Refinement of Subject Matter: Vocal Imagination (1941?)

31. [Preface to a Selection of His Poems (1942)]

32. [Notes on "The Divine Right of Kings" (1943?)]

33. [Contribution to 25th Anniversary Bread Loaf Booklet (1944)]

34. The Four Beliefs (1944)

35. [Preface to "The Death of the Hired Man" (1945)]

36. The Constant Symbol (1946)

37. Speaking of Loyalty (1948)

38. [Preface to "A Masque of Mercy" (1947)]

39. A Romantic Chasm (1948)

40. [Unpublished Contribution to Understanding Poetry (1950)]

41. [Letter to the American Booksellers' Association (1950)]

42. [Contribution to The World's Best (1950)]

43. [Poetry and School (1951)]

44. [Unfinished Preface to an Unpublished Collection of Poems by Hervey Allen (1951?)]

45. [Contribution to Tufts Weekly (1952)]

46. The Hear-Say Ballad (1953)

47. The Prerequisites (1954)

48. [Message to the Poets of Japan (1954)]

49. [Caveat Poeta (1955?)]

50. [Perfect Day—A Day of Prowess (1956)]

51. [Message to the Poets of Korea (1957)]

52. Maturity No Object (1957)

53. [Preface to A Swinger of Birches, by Sidney Cox (First Version and Published Version, 1957)]

54. [Contribution to Esquire's Symposium on "What Worries You Most about America Today?" (1958)]

55. Merrill Moore (1958)

56. [Statement of Robert Frost in the Case of the United States of America Versus Ezra Pound (1958)]

57. [Remarks on Being Appointed Consultant to the Library of Congress (1958?)]

58. The Way There (1958?)

59. [Preface to an Expanded Edition of North of Boston (1958?)]

60. [Letter to the Editor of Poetry (1958)]

61. Dorothy Canfield (1958)

62. [List of Five Favorite Books (1958)]

63. [On Emerson (1959)]

64. The Future of Man (1959)

65. The Future of Man (Unpublished Version [1959])

66. [Talk and Reading, 25th Anniversary Dinner of the Academy of American Poets (1959)]

67. [A Poet's Boyhood (1960)]

68. ["A New England Tribute" (1961)]

69. [Shakespeare Festival of Washington (1961)]

70. [Tribute to Ernest Hemingway (1961)]

71. [Comments on "Choose Something Like a Star" (1962)]

72. [Tribute to William Faulkner (1962)]

73. [Comments on "The Cold War Is Being Won" (1962)]

74. [Statement Concerning the Beginning of His Career (1963)]

75. [Press Release on Being Awarded the Bollingen Prize (1963)]

76. [Statement Written for the 53rd Annual Dinner of the Poetry Society of America (January 17, 1963)]

Editorial Principles

Notes

Line-End Hyphenation

Acknowledgments

Index

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