SAILING INTO THE UNKNOWN: Yeats, Pound and Eliot by M. L. Rosenthal

SAILING INTO THE UNKNOWN: Yeats, Pound and Eliot

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rosenthal chooses to stop off inside three of literary modernism's sturdiest waystations: Pound's ""Canto 47"" (""Who even dead, yet hath his mind entire!""); Yeats' ""Meditations in Time of Civil War"" and ""Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen""; and the first two sections of Eliot's ""Little Gidding"" from Four Quartets. In each, what Rosenthal appreciates foremostly is the poet's bold delving into regions of the unconscious in order to find a new expressive language--a sort of Freudian/Platonic attitude that's shored-up by close analysis of the individual works. The criticism is reasonable but dotty; surrounding the texts so closely, Rosenthal gives them no room to resound. Even when, in the second half of the book, he gives a short summary of all the work of each of the three poets, you feel that it's too much of a job in too little a space; details seem smothered as soon as they're discovered. It makes for a serious, densely allusive, but also slightly dull book, not for beginners but also not quite alive enough for the cognizant.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1978
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press