THE VARIETIES OF METAPHYSICAL POETRY

An annotated edition of Eliot's previously unpublished lectures formulating the influential theory of metaphysical poetry and the ``dissociation of sensibility'' with which he is associated. The volume consists of the eight Clark lectures delivered at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1926, and the three Turnbull lectures delivered at Johns Hopkins, 1933. Before an audience of Victorian gentleman scholars and young rebels such as William Empson and I.A. Richards, Eliot offered a reading of European poetry that located its value in the yoking of thought, feeling, and object, a view of human experience uniting the spiritual, intellectual, and sensual. His claim: Such unity occurred at only three points in Western culture—in the 13th century with Dante; in the 17th with Donne, Crashaw, and Cowley primarily; and in the 19th with Laforgue. These rare ``metaphysical moments'' were lost in the subsequent secular ages, which saw the diversification of knowledge, the ``disintegration of the intellect'' (the proposed title of his critical trilogy), and the decline of religious faith. In place of the clarity, authority, and objectivity that Eliot valued, poets expressed (and critics admired) ambiguity, individualism, and subjectivity. In his copious and detailed footnotes, Schuchard (English/Emory Univ.) identifies Eliot's encyclopedic allusions, corrects what has been called his ``creative misquotations,'' translates his many foreign citations, and explains the subtleties of his argument. His introductions, lucid and ranging, place Eliot in the context of the critical debates of the '20s and provide enough biographical information to humanize the otherwise priestly lecturer. One especially charming scene: Eliot in Baltimore walking into the sunset with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although Eliot's taste seems precious, obscure, and forbidding in some ways, the lectures are timely and relevant. The theories that helped initiate modernism have curious analogues in postmodern criticism, especially deconstruction, and require only a mind as capacious as Eliot's to elucidate them.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-15-100096-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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