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Poetry, Politics, and Culture: Argument, in the Work of Eliot, Pound, Stevens, and Williams
     

Poetry, Politics, and Culture: Argument, in the Work of Eliot, Pound, Stevens, and Williams

by Harold Kaplan
 

A salient feature of modern poetics is its direct connection with cultural history and politics. Among the great American poets of the twentieth century, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams offer a significant contrast with T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Where the latter advocated a theocentric or reactionary response to the cultural crises of modernity, the

Overview

A salient feature of modern poetics is its direct connection with cultural history and politics. Among the great American poets of the twentieth century, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams offer a significant contrast with T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Where the latter advocated a theocentric or reactionary response to the cultural crises of modernity, the former affirmed an essentially humanist and democratic social and aesthetic ethos. In Poetry, Politics, and Culture, Harold Kaplan offers a penetrating comparative study of these representative and distinctively influential poets.

All four poets wrote in an atmosphere of cultural crisis following World War I, caught as they were between outmoded belief systems and various forms of artistic and political nihilism. While each believed in poetry as a source of cultural values and beliefs, they nevertheless experienced loss of confidence in their own vocation in a world characterized by scientific, rationalist thinking and the mundane struggle for survival. For each, therefore, the poetic imagination was a means of restoring order, or building a new civilization out of chaos. In trying to define a revitalized culture, the four exemplified the perennial quarrel between Europe and America.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Kaplan offers insightful readings of particular poems, essays, and letters… Extensive collections supporting work at the upper-division undergraduate level and above.” —G. Grieve-Carlson, Choice "Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students of American Studies, literature, poetry and history, Poetry, Politics and Culture...represents definitive thinking about America's intellectual and poetic history at its finest." —Internet Bookwatch ""Kaplan does a remarkably good job of moving between and among four major figures. . . . Kaplan arranges things so that readers are treated to a clearly foregrounded 'major quarrel,' a conflict that is, frankly, fun to watch as it is very deliberately laid out. This book thus seeks to master one of several methods in which critics can refute the conventional notion that American modernists were blind to political life. . . . Kaplan at times surprises us with his choice of Stevens' poems to make this or that point. Proponents of Stevens-Williams modernismsuch as it is, as an odd whole harmoniumwill feel affirmed by this fascinating study." —Alan Filreis, The Wallace Stevens Journal Rated a "Must Read" by Lex Ticonderoga, Today's Books.

"Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students of American Studies, literature, poetry and history, Poetry, Politics, & Culture is not light reading, but it is very clearly written and represents definitive thinking about America's intellectual and poetic history at its finest." —Midwest Book Review "Poetry, Politics and Culture is full of sensitive and challenging readings of poems by Stevens and Williams."
—Leon Surette, Time Present

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765803030
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
05/18/2006
Pages:
290
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Harold Kaplan was professor emeritus, English and American Literature, at Northwestern University and formerly taught at Rutgers University and Bennington College. He was the author of The Passive Voice: An Approach to Modern Fiction and Democratic Humanism and American Literature, published by Transaction.

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