Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt

By John G. Neihardt; Lori Holm Utecht | Go to book overview

EIGHT
Vandals in the Temple

Neihardt was at his best when interacting with an audience. He was an effective lecturer and reader of his own poetry; even into his nineties he kept audiences of college students spellbound through long recitations of epic poetry. This awareness of audience permeates his newspaper writing, and Neihardt moves in and out of conversations with a variety of participants, weaving multiple messages into his text. Besides writing for a general readership, he also addressed his peers—artists and critics, both academic and in the popular press. In reviewing books of criticism he showed an awareness of the other players in the game, linking names and movements and circles of influence.

Neihardt positioned himself in opposition to much of the criticism of the day, and his frustration with contemporary criticism is a running thread throughout the columns. He attacked superficial treatment of art, shoddy workmanship, analysis rather than synthesis, and the selfindulgence of subjectivism. Most of all, he deplored a lack of creative insight in the writing of contemporary critics. He saw most critics as unable to step outside their particular time-mood and unable to help draw relations among the chaos of sense impressions. Neihardt saw much of what passed for criticism as just one more expression of the drift of civilization. Rather than a genuine criticism that helped define and interpret, most criticism merely reinforced the dominant persuasion.


MODERN AMERICAN POETRY

REVIEW OFTHE NEW ERA IN AMERICAN POETRY,BY LOUIS UNTERMEYER
(NEW YORK: HOLT, 1919)

Mr. Untermeyer's purpose in this volume is to show that previous to the outburst of haphazard poetizing during the last seven years, America had

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Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Tradition 1
  • One - As from a Height of Time 3
  • Two - Ancient Seers 9
  • Three - Epic Landscape 23
  • 2 - Troubled Planet 33
  • Four - Tremendous Mood of War 35
  • Five - Breadlines and Bursting Granaries 43
  • Six - Social Turmoil 53
  • 3 - Trends in Contemporary Literature 69
  • Seven - Genuine Criticism 71
  • Eight - Vandals in the Temple 77
  • Nine - Only Symptomatic 89
  • 4 - Of Making Many Books 111
  • Ten - The Glow of the Moment 113
  • Eleven - Impeccably Unremarkable 129
  • 5 - This Mysterious Universe 145
  • Twelve - Et Tu, Scientia? 147
  • Thirteen - Exploring the Unknown 161
  • Fourteen - The Flesh and the Spirit 172
  • 6 - Poetic Values 183
  • Fifteen - Hill of Vision 185
  • Sixteen - What is Literature Good For? 203
  • Notes 217
  • Sources 227
  • Index 233
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