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T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, expatriate Americans living in England in the early 20th century, are credited with having inspired the movement known as new criticism. As editor Davis (literature specialist, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC) here explains, this criticism "would focus on the techniques and forms of poetry, not on its uses as social comment, political statement, or historical document." Davis collects essays by Eliot and Pound as well as other American poet-critics of the period, such as R.P. Blackmur, Cleanth Brooks, Kenneth Burke, J.V. Cunningham, Randall Jarrell, John Crowe Ransom, Delmore Schwartz, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, Yvor Winters, and Hugh Kenner (the lone Canadian). Preceding each of the volume's four parts is a brief overview with commentary and analysis. For each featured essay, Davis provides the provenance and a forceful evaluation (e.g., "most influential," "truly indispensable," and "sublime overview"). The helpful appendix includes succinct biographies of each writer with selected bibliographies. Useful for readers interested in American poetry criticism of the 20th century; recommended for academic libraries.
—Kathryn R. Bartelt