New England Writers and Writing

Overview

For more than half a century, Malcolm Cowley (1898-1989) cast a long shadow across the landscape of American literary criticism, forming our views of luminaries like Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway and enhancing our understanding of dozens of others. A transplanted but long-time New Englander, Cowley focused much of his critical attention on the region's plethora of eminent authors, and this collection combines those essays with his writings about the New England he knew and loved. Cowley is equally at home ...
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Overview

For more than half a century, Malcolm Cowley (1898-1989) cast a long shadow across the landscape of American literary criticism, forming our views of luminaries like Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway and enhancing our understanding of dozens of others. A transplanted but long-time New Englander, Cowley focused much of his critical attention on the region's plethora of eminent authors, and this collection combines those essays with his writings about the New England he knew and loved. Cowley is equally at home with Hawthorne, James, Emerson, Melville, Frost, Aiken, Cheever, Cummings - and the characters and customs of his adoptive region. In a poem included here, Cowley writes of his wish to love the earth and "to speak some words in patterns that will be remembered." This book is testimony to his gift for - and fulfillment of - both.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cowley, literary editor of the New Republic until 1944 and lifelong student of American literature, lived in the hamlet of Sherman, Conn., from 1936 until his death in 1989. Best known for Exile's Return (1934), written after his postwar ``exile'' in France, Cowley wrote critical studies of numerous American writers including Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner. But it was to the writers of New England, and to the region as a setting, that he devoted much of his writing life. Collected here are 25 examinations and appreciations, their subjects ranging chronologically from Nathaniel Hawthorne to John Cheever. Cowley knew personally many of the writers about whom he wrote, and the chapters on the likes of Eugene O'Neill, Hart Crane and Cheever are as much memoir as literary criticism. He is at his best when he examines a writer's life and work in the context of community, and he is unafraid to take on the icons of his era; in ``Robert Frost: A Dissenting Opinion,'' he finds in the poet's works not so much an admirable self-reliance as ``the inward turning or backward turning of energies in a region that once had wider horizons.'' The volume closes with a delightful bonus-a dozen of Cowley's own reflections, in prose and poetry, on the Housatonic River, on growing melons, on election night in Sherman and other aspects of New England life-and a conversation between Cowley and his son Robert. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Cowley is a fluid and persuasive critic. This compilation of 38 of his previously published essays on New England writers covers the 19th and 20th centuries; he discusses authors such as Hawthorne, Whitman, O'Neill, E.E. Cummings, and John Cheever. Representative of the profound feeling Cowley had for the locale (he spent most of his life in Connecticut) and its inhabitants is a piece on the courtship of Hawthorne and Sophia Peabody ("The Hawthornes in Paradise"). A short final section entitled "New England Life" includes poetry, a conversation between Cowley and his son, Robert, and other writings. Essential for regional literature collections and highly recommended for others.-Janice Braun, Mills Coll., Oakland, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874517347
  • Publisher: University Press of New England
  • Publication date: 1/1/1996
  • Series: Library of New England
  • Pages: 333
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction
The Nineteenth Century
Hawthorne: Hawthorne in Solitude 3
The External Emerson 63
Melville Among His Champions 66
Whitman: The Poet and the Mask (excerpts) 73
The Real Horatio Alger Story 95
The Two Henry Jameses 105
The Twentieth Century
Robert Frost: A Dissenting Opinion 117
Edwin Arlington Robinson: Defeat and Triumph 127
Eugene O'Neill in Connecticut 134
Hart Crane in Search of a Home: A Memoir 142
Van Wyck Brooks's "Usable Past" 162
Two Views of George Santayana: At Harvard 175
Two Views of George Santayana: In Society 178
E. E. Cummings: One Man Alone 182
S. Foster Damon: The New England Voice 204
Conrad Aiken: From Savannah to Emerson 216
J. P. Marquand: Anthropologist of the Boston Story 229
Thornton Wilder: Time Abolished 232
John Cheever: The Novelist's Life as a Drama 144
New England Life: Essays and Reflections
Connecticut Valley 259
Town Report 264
Along the Housatonic 269
Election Night in Sherman 272
Is There Still Hope for Farming in New England? 275
A Letter on Growing Melons 286
A Handful of Poems 290
A Conversation Between Father and Son on New England Life 297
Publication Data 307
Index 311
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