Donald Davidson

Donald Davidson

Donald Davidson

Donald Davidson

Excerpt

In a literary career spanning more than forty years, Donald Davidson was poet, literary and social critic, historian, editor, teacher, and man of letters. Since the authors' intent is to provide a judicious introduction to his life and work, detailed analyses of all his literary creations have not been possible. Within the necessary space limitations, however, explication and discussion of representative selections from each literary genre have been offered. A disproportianate amount of space is used in the analysis of his poetry because less has been written about it than about his social criticism; indeed, the poetry has all too often been misread or neglected as merely statements in verse of his political and social persuasion. As Davidson's work has not been read by a large portion of contemporary readers, a good deal of summary has seemed necessary.

The first chapter is an account of Davidson's early life, the years in which he developed attitudes and convictions that shaped his artistic and professional career. Chapter 2 covers the years of his association with The Fugitive and the publication of his first verse, the period during which he was learning his craft--a time of experimentation when he was struggling to find the form best suited to his art and the subject matter with which to employ that form. Chapter 3 is concerned primarily with The Tall Men, Davidson most ambitious poem and one in which the theme that recurs in much of his mature poetry first appears: the spiritual disorder and lack of purpose in modern civilization and society. In Chapter 4, the quality and content of his mature verse after The Tall Men, including his widely reprinted Lee in the Mountains, is analyzed. The nature of Davidson's achievement as a prose stylist as he explores literary, social, and political ideas is scrutinized in Chapter 5. The ultimate aim of the entire study has been to suggest tentatively the nature and extent of his contribution to modern American literature, toward the time when his place among his contemporaries can be objectively determined.

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