THE MIDDLE GENERATION: The Lives and Poetry of Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman and Robert Lowell by Bruce Bawer

THE MIDDLE GENERATION: The Lives and Poetry of Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman and Robert Lowell

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A shallow evaluation from an ocean of research. The appeal of this is limited by the absence of the poetry that made the Middle Generation worth such a study in the first place. The works referred to are quoted for two or three lines at most. The subtitle is additionally misleading, because the ""Lives"" are present only to the extent that they support a quote from Lowell: "". . .really we had the same life,/ the generic one/ our generation offered."" Every family crisis, every personal, or professional interest, is neatly clarified in formulaic Freudian detail. ""Eliot provided the ideal paternal image"" is the postulated reason for the main thesis of the book: that T.S. Eliot was the dominant influence on their early poetic development and the focus of their rebellion in later years. The forced unity promoted by this loose catalog of academic facts is drawn from over 100 sourcebooks, but, incredibly, there is no report of the human sharing within the group. Each personality is discussed in turn. There is mention of correspondence, mention of roommates, but no attempt to show lives interacting. These four deserve better.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Archon/Shoe String