A Revolution in European Poetry, 1660-1900

A Revolution in European Poetry, 1660-1900

A Revolution in European Poetry, 1660-1900

A Revolution in European Poetry, 1660-1900

Excerpt

This book will trace the course of poetry in the chief European literary languages, French, English, German, and Italian, in the era closest to our own, from 1660 to the twentieth century. The subject is immense. Exhaustive treatment would fill many volumes and would probably rebuff readers of poetry, an art whose essence is brevity and concision. I have therefore been highly selective, in order that the interrelations of the national literatures and civilizations may stand out clearly. I have been interpretive and suggestive, leaving to the reader the exploration of attractive by paths, possibly with the aid of an anthology of world poetry. Attention has been confined to poets and poems of international stature and significance in a changing but fairly homogeneous European society. The basic commonplaces have not been slurred over, for it can scarcely be assumed that a reader familiar with one literature knows his way about in another. But certain familiar critical tags, such as "neo-classical" and "romantic," though convenient for brevity, have been renounced as having no meaning common to the four literatures and as often foreign to the creative intentions of the poets.

This work may contribute to what Balzac called "the genius of admiration, of comprehension, the sole faculty whereby an ordinary man becomes the brother of a great poet." The writer hopes that Americans will be stimulated to think of the significance and future of our national poetry, and to comprehend the present grave crisis in European culture. Perhaps there may be interest for Europeans in the shape which . . .

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