Modern English and American Poetry: Techniques and Ideologies

Modern English and American Poetry: Techniques and Ideologies

Modern English and American Poetry: Techniques and Ideologies

Modern English and American Poetry: Techniques and Ideologies

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is twofold.

In the first place, it attempts to indicate to general readers how they may surmount the chief apparent difficulties in reading contemporary verse, so that they can get to the heart of what poets are saying and make their own judgments about the sense. Many of the difficulties are, indeed, more apparent than real. One of the traits of formalism today is that it parades various tricks and devices that, with a small amount of patience, can be shown to be quite transparent. It is time that readers were assured, with demonstrations, how little they need to be awe-struck by the pretensions of our more elaborate versifiers. How to read, analyse, and master the expression and content of contemporary poetry is explained in Part I, and this exposition leads to the formulation of critical methods and final judgments: the evaluation of ideology as well as style.

In the second place, the author has tried to give, for those more specially interested in techniques, a fresh approach to the underlying problems of sound and rhythm. The materials on this subject may be regarded from the point of view of the general reader as an appendix which he may take or not, as he likes. It is recommended, however, that he take it. Here too there are no impenetrable mysteries. An elementary craftsman's knowledge of poetry can be acquired with less strain and hocus-pocus than certain of the professionals would have us suppose. Meantime, the general reader of Part I will be helped by the glossary of special terms, placed at the end, to which he can refer as he proceeds. They have been added in an appendix in order to avoid interrupting Part I with detailed discussion and definitions, which are more fully given in Part II.

The general criticism of modern poetry is presented here from the point of view of the social responsibility of literature, a problem which is historically sketched in the first chapter. Upon examination of the ideological content of modern English and American poetry, it appears that a certain part of it--no matter how challenging . . .

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