BABEL TO BYZANTIUM by James Dickey

BABEL TO BYZANTIUM

POETS AND POETRY NOW
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

James Dickey's reputation as a critic is based on plain speaking and the lauding of sound, humane, even homey values. His idea of the "suspect" in poetry is roughly equivalent to the notion that modern poetry has become "a complicated but learnable (for many have learned) game." "Most of our contemporary poets are writing into a Climate of poetic officialdom. . . based largely on the principles which the New Criticism has espoused. . . . We have lost all sense of personal intimacy between the poet and his reader." This sort of winsome polemic had some relevancy in the Fifties. Poetry today knows no such guidelines or iron-clad rules. Thus, both Dickey's theorizing or individual appraisals of a variety of different poets in this collection of reviews and essays covering the last ten years has about it the peculiar air of combat when the battle appears to be going on elsewhere. Dickey dislikes Ginsberg and Ashberry, as well as Robert Graves that is to say, he condemns both the confessional and experimental, along with the elegant, or what he would call the "autonomous," poem. His admirers praise him for earnestness, lucidity, and critical integrity, and it is true he does have these values. But he is also parochial, unsophisticated, and extremely limited in his literary responses, erudition, and prose style. The best pieces here are the tributes to Roethke, Aiken, Marianne Moore, and the solid analyses of five classics.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1968
ISBN: 0912946865
Page count: 332pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1968




MORE BY JAMES DICKEY

NonfictionCRUX by James Dickey
by James Dickey
FictionTO THE WHITE SEA by James Dickey
by James Dickey
FictionALNILAM by James Dickey
by James Dickey