CONNOISSEURS OF CHAOS by D. Donoghue

CONNOISSEURS OF CHAOS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The title of this group of essays about American poets of the 19th and 20th centuries derives from a Wallace Stevens dialogue: ""The only way to deal with chaos is to become its connoisseur; the only answer to the world of chaos is a new world verified by imagination or an old world redeemed by the imagination."" Donoghue claims to examine the way in which his poets dealt with the human condition, related ""the squirming facts"" to their ""squamous minds,"" but since this is rather broadly based ontology, he is free to go more or less where he wants to go. Theodore Roethke ""did not sentimentalize his chaos. He lived with it..."" Whitman ""committed himself to the validity of human life,"" never needing, within his philosophical equation, to define the essence of self. Frederick Tuckerman despaired, unable to accept ""Wordsworth's exquisite fitting of mind and world."" Emily Dickinson drew life into her room, supremely self-confident that ""the poet's soul is the center of the universe"" and that ""Forever -- is composed of Nows -."" Robert Frost ""discovered at an early age that he had an engaging personality and that discovery was near disaster."" Donoghue also treats Robert Lowell, Jonathan Edwards, Edwin Arlington Robinson, J.V. Cunningham, Herman Melville, and, of course, Wallace Stevens...Thoroughly documented, scholarly treatises for the student and the well-read.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1965
ISBN: 0231057350
Publisher: Macmillan