Circling the Canon, Volume I
The Selected Book Reviews of Marjorie Perloff, 1969–1994
One of our most important contemporary critics, Marjorie Perloff has been a widely published and influential reviewer, especially of poetry and poetics, for over fifty years. Circling the Canon, Volume I covers roughly the first half of Perloff’s career, beginning with her first ever review, on Anthony Hecht’s The Hard Hours. The reviews in this volume, culled from a wide range of scholarly journals, literary reviews, and national magazines, trace the evolution of poetry in the mid- to late twentieth century as well as the evolution of Perloff as a critic. Many of the authors whose works are reviewed in this volume are major figures, such as W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, Sylvia Plath, and Frank O’Hara. Others, including Mona Van Duyn and Richard Hugo, were widely praised in their day but are now all but forgotten. Still others—David Antin, Edward Dorn, or the Language poets—exemplify an avant-garde that was to come into its own.
A highly rewarding set of essay reviews, which covers a lot of literary poetic ground.
I knew I was going to be entertained and informed by one of the most astute critics of our time and, particularly, of the avant-gardes of our time. Her inquisitive intelligence always turns up something new.
Friend of John Cage and John Ashbery, indefatigable explainer of the avant-garde, Marjorie Perloff is a critic of international standing whose close readings analyze modernist seriousness as well as postmodernist playfulness, relishing especially the radical difficulty of the Language Poets she has long championed.…Her observation that ‘the book review is by definition the site of controversy’ rings true, as does her wish for the best literary criticism to be ‘always, in the end, both evaluative and engaged.’ The latter words certainly apply to her own.
This collection is a record of one of the best and most influential critical minds in contemporary poetry and poetics. It is both timely and timeless.
Marjorie Perloff is the author and editor of twenty books, including Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy and 21st-Century Modernism: The "New" Poetics. She is a Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities emerita at Stanford University. David Jonathan Bayot is the coauthor or editor of twenty-two books, including Marjorie Perloff’s Poetics in a New Key: Interviews and Essays and Deconstruction After All: Reflections and Conversations. He is the Go Kim Pah Professor of Chinese Literature at De La Salle University and the executive publisher of De La Salle University Publishing House.
David Jonathan Bayot
Introduction. Circling the Canon
Chapter 1. The Hard Hours (Anthony Hecht)
Chapter 2. Yeats as Gnostic (Harold Bloom, Allen Grossman)
Chapter 3. Extremist Poetry: Some Versions of the Sylvia Plath Myth (Sylvia Plath, A. Alvarez)
Chapter 4. Poetry Chronicle, 1970-1971 (Frank O’Hara, A. R. Ammons, and others)
Chapter 5. Roots and Blossoms (James Wright, Richard Hugo, Thom Gunn)
Chapter 6. Mona Van Duyn’s Disguises (Mona Van Duyn)
Chapter 7. The Poet and his Politics (T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Chace, David Craig)
Chapter 8. Pound’s Vorticist Textbook (Ezra Pound)
Chapter 9. Art Chronicles (Frank O’Hara)
Chapter 10. Battle of the Books (Harold Bloom, Hugh Kenner)
Chapter 11. The Poet as Critic (Frank O’Hara)
Chapter 12. The Poetry of Edward Dorn (Edward Dorn)
Chapter 13. Robert Lowell in Search of Himself (Robert Lowell)
Chapter 14. Talking at the Boundaries (David Antin)
Chapter 15. Houseboat Days (John Ashbery)
Chapter 16. Charles Olson in Connecticut (Charles Boer)
Chapter 17. The Greening of Charles Olson (Robert von Hallberg, Sherman Paul, Paul Christensen)
Chapter 18. Poetic Artifice (Veronica Forrest-Thompson)
Chapter 19. The Vendler Factor (Helen Vendler)
Chapter 20. The Dice Cup (Max Jacob)
Chapter 21. The Challenge of German Lyric: Goethe and Heine in Translation (J. W. von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Christopher Middleton, Hal Draper)
Chapter 22. The French Connection (Stephane Mallarmé, André Breton, Francis Ponge, Aimé Césaire, Paul Auster, Ron Padgett, David Antin, Jean-Pierre Chauvin, Mary Ann Caws, Clayton Eshleman, Annette Smith)
Chapter 23. The Case of Amy Clampitt: A Reading of "Imago" (Amy Campitt)
Chapter 24. "Dirty" Language and Scramble Systems (Laurie Anderson, Kathleen Fraser)
Chapter 25. Hölderlin Our Contemporary (Richard Sieburth)
Chapter 26. Of Canons and Contemporaries (Helen Vendler)
Chapter 27. Agon (Harold Bloom)
Chapter 28. Theories of the Avant-Garde (Peter Bürger, Jean Weisgerber)
Chapter 29. The Rise and Fall of English Modernism (Hugh Kenner)
Chapter 30. Sylvia Plath as Cultural Icon (Jacqueline Rose)
Chapter 31. What to Make of a Diminished Thing (Philip Larkin, Andrew Motion, Anthony Thwaite)
Chapter 32. The Poetry of Kurt Schwitters (Jerome Rothenberg, Pierre Joris)
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