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Transcendental Criticism

David Trotter, 3 March 1988

The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 256 pp., £14.95, March 1988, 0 571 15013 6
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... Sense of Henry James (1960) through A World Elsewhere (1966) and The Performing Self (1971) to Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing (1977), Poirier has pursued a consistent and inventive enquiry into literary language, and into the politics of literary language. ‘When a writer is most strongly engaged by what he is doing, as if struggling for his ...

Dark and Deep

Helen Vendler, 4 July 1996

Robert FrostA Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Constable, 424 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 09 476130 2
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Collected Poems, Prose and Plays 
by Robert Frost, edited by Richard Poirier and Mark Richardson.
Library of America, 1036 pp., $35, October 1995, 9781883011062
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... It would be hard,’ Robert Frost wrote, ‘to gather biography from poems of mine except as they were all written by the same person, out of the same general region north of Boston, and out of the same books.’ Frost’s biographers, who began their collective labours well before he died, were not to be put off by such a statement, and the early collections of memoirs and reminiscences culminated in Lawrance Thompson’s three-volume biography published between 1966 and 1976 ...

Win-Win

Peter Howarth: Robert Frost’s Prose, 6 November 2008

The Collected Prose of Robert Frost 
edited by Mark Richardson.
Harvard, 375 pp., £25.95, January 2008, 978 0 674 02463 2
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The Notebooks of Robert Frost 
edited by Robert Faggen.
Harvard, 809 pp., £25.95, January 2007, 978 0 674 02311 6
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... Prose have never been reprinted before, but they have a misleadingly familiar ring. In 1891, Frost got himself elected to the editorship of the Lawrence, Massachusetts High School Bulletin, and his opening salute to his classmates insists that ‘this chair, when not acting as a weapon of defence, will be devoted to the caprices of its occupant.’ A ...

Saved for Jazz

David Trotter, 5 October 1995

Modernist Quartet 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, November 1994, 0 521 47004 8
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... There are some curious aspects to Frank Lentricchia’s study of four Modernist poets: T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound and Wallace Stevens. For a start, it’s a book about poets which doesn’t seem much interested in poems. Lentricchia has written a lengthy chapter on each member of his quartet. Yet Eliot is represented by ‘The Love Song of J ...

Grandfather Emerson

Harold Bloom, 7 April 1994

Poetry and Pragmatism 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 228 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 571 16617 2
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... a middle phase in The Performing Self (1971) and Norman Mailer (1972), on to the major study of Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing (1977), and culminating in The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections (1987) and Poetry and Pragmatism (1992), now belatedly under review. More perhaps than anyone else, Poirier has led the fierce revival of ...
FrostA Literary Life Reconsidered 
by William Pritchard.
Oxford, 186 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 19 503462 7
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... of the First World War, London still beckoned aspiring American poets. Ezra Pound arrived in 1908, RobertFrost in 1912, and T.S. Eliot in 1914. When Pound arrived he was only 23, Eliot was 26, but Frost was almost 39. He had been writing poetry, most of it unpublished, for ...

The Lazarus Taxa

John Burnside, 5 February 2015

... them, As if the earth in one unlooked-for favour Had made them certain earth returned their love. Robert Frost If anything is safe to love, it is the jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, that pink and silver moon-cloud, drifting wild in every harbour from the South Atlantic to the Bay of Reykjavik; or Hippocampus, monstrous to the Greeks, though shaped ...

Obstacles

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 July 1996

Edward Thomas: Selected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... my accursed temper and moodiness.’ Even so, it might be true of him, as Ian Hamilton wrote of Robert Frost, that ‘he knew his own failings, knew what the world would think of him if it found out, and yet believed the world was wrong.’ In this short selection of Edward Thomas’s letters George Thomas has aimed, he says, at reflecting the ...

It is still mañana

Matthew Bevis: Robert Frost’s Letters, 19 February 2015

The Letters of Robert Frost, Vol. 1: 1886-1920 
edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson and Robert Faggen.
Harvard, 811 pp., £33.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 05760 9
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... Anybody​ want to Hear R. Frost on Anything?’ the poet asked Louis Untermeyer in 1916. Frost was 42 years old and believed he had an impressive list of lectures ‘in stock’. One of them was the ‘True Story of My Life’. It would begin with early signs of temerity and talent – ‘Stealing pigs from the stockyards in San Francisco ...

Thomas’s Four Hats

Patricia Beer, 2 April 1981

The Poetry of Edward Thomas 
by Andrew Motion.
Routledge, 193 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7100 0471 0
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... Edward Thomas has sometimes been represented as a hack who turned into a thoroughbred when Robert Frost waved a magic wand. Neither part of this concept is quite true, as Andrew Motion shows. In the first place, Thomas was not a hack in any pejorative sense of the word. True, he worked hard when he did not feel like it at jobs he would not have ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated. Thomas, as Robert Frost reminded him, ‘knew the worth of [his] bays’. However, it is unwise to die in war when a hegemonic project like Modernism is getting under way. Frost’s reputation survived because, feigning ...

In an English market

Tom Paulin, 3 March 1983

Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 181 pp., £3.50, October 1982, 0 86068 269 2
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... doctrine that human nature is limited and life irredeemably imperfect. Terminus agrees with Robert Frost in saying ‘good fences make good neighbours’; and he also takes a classical view of artistic creation by insisting on formal constraints and closed symmetry. Although Terminus inhabits hedges and drystone walls, he is not a property of ...

What the doctor said

Edna Longley, 22 March 1990

A New Path to the Waterfall 
by Raymond Carver.
Collins Harvill, 158 pp., £11, September 1989, 0 00 271043 9
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Wolfwatching 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, September 1989, 0 571 14167 6
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Poems 1954-1987 
by Peter Redgrove.
Penguin, 228 pp., £5.99, August 1989, 0 14 058641 5
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The First Earthquake 
by Peter Redgrove.
Secker, 76 pp., £7.50, August 1989, 0 436 41006 0
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Mount Eagle 
by John Montague.
Bloodaxe, 75 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 1 85224 090 3
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The Wreck of the Archangel 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 116 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 7195 4750 4
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The Perfect Man 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Abacus, 96 pp., £3.99, November 1989, 0 349 10122 1
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... made-up. Anyone who finds his poems flat or prosaic might consider Edward Thomas’s defence of Robert Frost: ‘if his work were printed [as prose] it would have little in common with the kind of prose that runs to blank verse ... It is poetry because it is better than prose.’ A New Path to the Waterfall is poetry because it is better than ...

Christmas Trees

Alice Spawls, 5 January 2017

... make the allusion plain: their columns open out into great branches. The idea goes both ways. Robert Frost wrote of his forest of ‘young fir balsams like a place/Where houses all are churches and have spires’. As god is to man, Friedrich seems to say, so man is to nature: we are the ones who shape it, who isolate and set off its beauty. But the ...

Lollipop Laurels

Benjamin Markovits: Alice McDermott, 7 August 2003

Child of My Heart 
by Alice McDermott.
Bloomsbury, 242 pp., £14.99, May 2003, 0 7475 6323 3
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... dressing up futility as something else. In her other novels, McDermott tends to argue for what Robert Frost called the need to be versed in country things: the need to understand the indifference of a world that appears to mourn with us. Like Frost, she implies that the best we can do is exploit our own capacity for ...

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