RANDALL JARRELL: 1914-1965 by


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A set of memorial essays and reminiscences about the late Randall Jarrell, who threw himself in front of a passing truck in the summer of 1965. Unfortunately, neither Jarrell's suicide(?) the turmoil evident in so much of his poetry is really grappled with in this eulogistic volume. The contributors, almost all of whom were Jarrell's friends, present excellent, often moving, sometimes penetrating surveys of his career and personality. One feels throughout the book, but especially in the assessments by Lowell, Berryman, John Crowe Ransom, Marianne Moore, and the rich, rattled commentary of Karl Shapiro, that Jarrell's passing struck a deep nerve in the literary world and that the praise in these pages is undeniably heartfelt. Still, the final impression is somewhat shadowy and overblown. Jarrell's themes of abandonment, change, and transformation, the schizoid tension in a line such as: ""This is senseless?/Shall I make sense or shall I tell the truth?/ Choose either--I cannot do both,"" are not faced in cool and compelling critical terms. However much one admires Jarrell's poignancy, wit, and magic, it is difficult to agree that ""his poems give you the feel of a time, our time, as no other poetry of our century does, or could, even."" Nevertheless, purely as portrait of a man, his vocation and his influence, it is deeply human and engaging.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1967
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux