Proofs and Theories

Overview

Winner of the 1993 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Non-Fiction, Proofs and Theories is an illuminating collection of essays by Louise Glück, whose most recent book of poems, The Wild Iris, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Glück brings to her prose the same precision of language, the same incisiveness and insight that distinguish her poetry. The force of her thought is evident everywhere in these essays, from her explorations of other poets' work to her skeptical contemplation of current literary critical ...

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Overview

Winner of the 1993 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Non-Fiction, Proofs and Theories is an illuminating collection of essays by Louise Glück, whose most recent book of poems, The Wild Iris, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Glück brings to her prose the same precision of language, the same incisiveness and insight that distinguish her poetry. The force of her thought is evident everywhere in these essays, from her explorations of other poets' work to her skeptical contemplation of current literary critical notions such as "sincerety" and "courage." Here also are Glück's revealing reflections on her own education and life as a poet, and a tribute to her teacher and mentor, Stanley Kunitz. Proofs and Theories is the testament of a major poet.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gluck ( The Wild Iris ) maintains that she is ``uneasy with commentary,'' her collection of 16 essays, all previously published in literary journals, is often profound. The subjects of her writing include poets Stanley Kunitz, Hugh Seidman, T. S. Eliot; the future (considered in a 1993 Williams College graduation address); education; and the nature of courage. Yet the real lure of her commentary is sensibility, even more than subject. As with her poetry, Gluck's prose is fine and pared but visionary; her intelligence is precise and earnest. She uses mind as a moral power, whether addressing experience or literature. For instance, in ``Disinterestedness,'' Gluck writes in support of an ideal of reading with nearly bias-free receptivity that literary theorists may scoff, but is liberating and persuasive as she explains it. Here and elsewhere, Gluck's brevity, clarity and resolute independence are impressive. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Gluck (Pulitzer Prize winner for The Wild Iris, LJ 5/15/92) here presents an uneven collection of essays on modern and contemporary poetry. Some of the essays are written in a lucid prose style. For instance, "Disruption, Hesitation, Silence," the best of the volume, compares the poetry of John Berryman, George Oppen, and T.S. Eliot, associating each with an adjectival attribute in the title. However, many of the essays need more analysis of the poets covered. For example, the essay "On Stanley Kunitz" (Gluck's mentor) is too short for a tribute and fails to infuse any germane thought into his poetry. At times, Gluck is able to pull off the improbable comparison of these very different poets in a creative twist of her imagination. Perhaps the lack of development in many of the essays results because Gluck "doesn't trust [her] prose." She holds back from explaining her theories and developing her proofs, which leaves the reader wanting more. For literary collections.-Tim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, Pa.
Booknews
This first collection of essays by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gluck (The Wild Iris, 1993) was well worth the wait. Passionate, penetrating, and thankfully unpostmodern, she treats poets including T.S. Eliot, George Oppen, Stanley Kunitz, and subjects including courage, sincerity, and disinterestedness. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880014427
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 150
  • Sales rank: 600,190
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise Glück won the Pulitzer Prize for The Wild Iris in 1993. The author of eight books of poetry and one collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry, she has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. She was named the next U.S. poet laureate in August 2003. Her most recent book is The Seven Ages. Louise Glück teaches at Williams College and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Table of Contents

Author's Note
Education of the Poet 3
On T. S. Eliot 19
The Idea of Courage 23
On George Oppen 29
Against Sincerity 33
On Hugh Seidman 47
The Forbidden 53
Obstinate Humanity 65
Disruption, Hesitation, Silence 73
Disinterestedness 87
The Best American Poetry 1993: Introduction 91
The Dreamer and the Watcher 99
On Stanley Kunitz 107
Invitation and Exclusion 113
Death and Absence 125
On Impoverishment 129
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