THE DIMENSIONS OF MIDNIGHT by Cecil Hemley

THE DIMENSIONS OF MIDNIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cecil Hemley's collection of poems and stories recalls the period of the Fifties when the Academy ruled the arts, experimentation and Bohemia were pronounced dead (in an article in New World Writing, for instance, Hemley, without tears, tolled the bell over the avant garde tradition). Both style and content to be in fashion wore formal garb, rather like a new breed of monks, dedicated to the most refined proliferation of a minor literature, suitable to the Eisenhower years. So the late Hemley speaks for his time, with all its limitations, evasions, and dreadfully unadventurous spirit. The poetry-- mythic coloring like Muir, pastoral lyricism like Leonie Adams--has that paleface correctness the redskins in the person of the Beats so clamorously rebelled against. The tales, whether of domestic contretemps or a grubby encounter between the sexes in the city, usually build up quite nicely, and then, as if fearful of the interesting tension created, back off into some cloudy limbo, a wisp of a theme hanging in the air, a tired symbol fluttering faintly in the concluding paragraph. Neo-humanism is Hemley's ethos, along with a touch of the mysticism and skepticism he attributes to Isaac Bashevis Singer in an eloquent, scholarly, and moving essay which rounds out this memorial volume.

Publisher: Ohio University Press