Roads Not Taken: Rereading Robert Frost

Roads Not Taken: Rereading Robert Frost

Roads Not Taken: Rereading Robert Frost

Roads Not Taken: Rereading Robert Frost


In Roads Not Taken, Earl J. Wilcox and Jonathan N. Barron bring a new freshness and depth to the study of one of America's greatest poets. While some critics discounted Frost as a poet without technical skill, rhetorical complexity, or intellectual depth, over the past decade scholars have begun to view Robert Frost's work from many new perspectives. Critical hermeneutics, cultural studies, feminism, postmodernism, and textual editing all have had their impact on readings of the poet's life and work. This collection of essays is the first to account for the variety of these new perceptions.

Appealing to a wide literary community, and in keeping with Frost's own poetic goals, these twelve essays fall into four distinct categories: gender, biography and cultural studies, the intertext, and poetics and theory.

All the contributors, many of whom have written books on Frost, are widely recognized scholars. Their diverse viewpoints and collective expertise make this volume of essays the most significant contribution to Frost criticism to be published in over twenty years.


Of all the major twentieth-century American poets, Robert Frost remains the most well known, the most public, and the least understood. While Frost's intellectual and artistic credentials need no defending, his work, compared to that of his generational peers, is still the least explored. Rather than bringing Frost's work into line with current discussion of the work of such fellow poets as T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, H.D., and Ezra Pound, the past decade has seen a new burst of attention to just those elements that make Frost's work so singular.

In the early 1980s, the Robert Frost Society was founded to perpetuate and encourage study of the poet's life and work. Since that time, the society has been the principal force in organizing programs, forums, and freelance discussion in cities, on university campuses, and on the World Wide Web. At major academic gatherings, such as the annual meetings of the Modern Language Association and the American Literature Association, the society has sponsored gatherings in cities as diverse as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto. The enthusiasm with which these programs were greeted in turn led to at least two notable events: the founding in 1991 of the Robert Frost Review and, in 1997, the first major international academic conference devoted exclusively to Frost in more than a decade.

This conference, held at Winthrop University, was sponsored in large part by the society and organized by its director and the founding editor of the Robert Frost Review, Earl J. Wilcox. The symposium marked the culmination of a decade of remarkably innovative work on Frost's poetry. There scholars and laymen alike from as far away as China, Japan, Norway, Italy, Scotland, Israel, England, and India joined with Americans from all over the country for a four-day “revival.” Indeed, much of the new work presented at this conference had been encouraged, fostered, and debated in the pages of the Robert Frost Review.

With this essay collection, we, the editors of the Robert Frost Review, mean to bring this new work on Frost to the attention of a wider academic audience. Specifically, Frost scholarship in the past ten years has examined the poet's work from perspectives as various as critical . . .

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