LONGFELLOW: His Life and Work by Newton Arvin

LONGFELLOW: His Life and Work

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 19th century America Longfellow was a household word, his poems household treasures; Oxford and Cambridge gave him honorary degrees, Westminster Abbey a memorial. But in 20th century literary circles Longfellow is remembered, if at all, as a grammar school laureate. Now Newton Arvin, one of our better academicians, attempts a correction of that critical imbalance with an amiable assessment of the man and his work, claiming that though the status of major poet can never again be Longfellow's, nevertheless our literature is not rich enough to deny him a place in it. His hopeful, humane values embody the American past and his output, however ""minor"", proves an ""incarnation of song and sibry"". Thus the book offers a sustained, sympathetic analysis of Evangeline, etc., shows up the shaping influences via German Romanticism, Dante and Chaucer, unearths his ""buried"" New England life, and delineates his historical role as a demotic not poet, one who preached acceptance rather than rebellion. As such, it is a full and fitting tribute.

Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.