Robert Frost and the Politics of Poetry

Robert Frost and the Politics of Poetry


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Robert Frost and the Politics of Poetry by Tyler Hoffman

In his new study of an iconic poet, Tyler Hoffman challenges prevailing assumptions about the relation between Robert Frost's poetry and his theory of form and reveals the poet as responsive to both the aesthetics of modernism and the public issues of the time. In a series of subtle and sophisticated readings of the poems, Hoffman shows that in practice Frost regularly, and happily, disregarded his own, oft-repeated pronouncements about form and poetic sense. Indeed, he argues, it is precisely in the ambiguity produced by these departures, and in the inability of the authorial voice to totally command a reader's response and interpretation, that so much of the power of Frost's poetry resides.

In addition to exploring Frost's entanglements with modernist aesthetics, Hoffman revises commonly held views of the poet's political commitments and the politics of his formalism. Through his readings, Hoffman argues that Frost's poetic practice is fundamentally progressivist. In his concluding chapter, Hoffman considers the postcolonial legacy of Frost's poetry and theory of poetic form, with particular attention to the work of Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, and Joseph Brodsky.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781584651505
Publisher: Middlebury College Museum of Art
Publication date: 10/01/2001
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

TYLER HOFFMAN is Assistant Professor of English at Rutgers University. Jay Parini, author of the acclaimed Robert Frost: A Life, has written a foreword situating Hoffman's critical perspective among the alternative and often contentious previous approaches to Frost's poetry.

Read an Excerpt

Hoffman's intense, nuanced, and sophisticated reading of the poetry itself goes a long way toward reestablishing Frost in his political time as a man and poet concerned with the issues of the day, such as the complex relationship between the individual and the state. These terms are translated, by him and others, into the politics of poetry itself. Hoffman understands these politics, and he makes them visible in ways that have not been previously accomplished. -- from the Foreword by Jay Parini

Table of Contents

1The Sound of Sense and the Ethics of Early Modernism12
2The Sense of Sound and the Silent Text64
3The Politics of the Visual Line122
4Figures of Form, or Poetry and Power171

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