Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday, 16 July 2001

"Kipling, Auden and Co." by Randall Jarrell

I have heard people say that Jarrell was the best critic. I could only get his 4th book of collected articles. He's flexible - he can sum up careers in a phrase, or take pages over a poem. He's prepared to reject books (e.g. 'The Age of Anxiety') even if they're written by his heroes. And he's entertaining. I read only the articles about authors familiar to me. He thought Frost the best poet of the 20th century. Auden might have got close but funked it because of an attitude problem. Robert Graves and Kipling are good, Dylan Thomas close. He admired Empson both as a poet and theorist. He thought other UK writers over-rated, partly because our Modernism never got beyond the level of the Sitwells. He thought that "Modern Poetry" was a development (dead-end) of romanticism.

He seems to have been right about new writers (Lowell, Rich, etc). Of Rich's first book he says

  • "The reader feels that she has only begun to change"
  • "It seems to me that she herself is, often, a good poet who is all too good - one who can afford to be wild tomorrow"

(how true...). He was aware of developments in music and the visual arts but doesn't seem too well up on non-US/UK poetry.

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