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

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

FIFTEEN
Hill of Vision

Neihardt periodically stepped back from the discussion of a current book to reiterate his poetics. He elaborated on details, clarified terms, and applied principles to specific books in a reminder to his readers of the role of art and the artist. In an essay examining the role of the woman artist, Neihardt focused on three questions to determine whether or not a work should be considered poetry: Is the work characterized by an architectural quality? Is it concerned with the creation of a self-completing whole? Is it marked by demiurgic power rather than accumulation of detail?

Neihardt conferred much honor on the poet, a word he used interchangeably with “artist, ” drawing on the meaning of “poetic” in the original Greek sense as “maker.” He also charged the artist with heavy responsibilities—one gifted with the powers of heightened awareness and interpretation must use those gifts wisely. Hence his argument with those who use their gifts for personal gratification rather than the human good and for the sordid and nasty rather than the noble endeavors of humanity.


BUILDING OF A MASTERPIECE

REVIEW OF THE HEART OF EMERSON'S JOURNALS (NEW YORK: HOUGHTON, 1926)

Any thoughtful reader of Emerson must have noted what his critics long ago took pains to point out, that he had not what may be termed the architectural sense. That is to say, his power in any single piece of writing did not depend upon the cumulative effect of closely related details in a structure. It is undoubtedly true that in the greatest works of literary art there is an indefinable power that grows out of the mood of the whole, that is not to be accounted for by addition, but that suggests, rather, a geometrical progression. The idea may be illustrated by any impressive

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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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