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Vendler is a critic readers of poetry, inside the academy and out, should take seriously...She writes less as a scholar (though her learning is prodigious) than as one impelled by the special pleasure she finds in poems to trace each instance of that pleasure to its source...While [The Given and the Made and The Breaking of Style] offer complex, sometimes difficult interpretations of work that is itself often difficult, they hew close to the primary experiences of wonder and conviction that is poetry's special power to evoke. Her prose is...lucid and elegant...[In The Breaking of Style,] the chapter on Hopkins is a tour de force, the most concise and helpful account I have seen of the dense, jarring, strangely musical meter the Victorian Jesuit called 'sprung rhythm'...Vendler's argument, in The Given and the Made, is that poetry is a special way of confronting, and symbolically resolving, the hard facts of life. And poetry, which has for so long seemed to be approaching an ultimate marginality, surely needs defenders like Vendler, so committed to protecting its singularity as an art form...These [are] illuminating books.
— A. O. Scott