The Fugitives: A Critical Account

By John M. Bradbury | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
Apprentice Tate

THE ALLEN TATE whom we meet first as Henry Feathertop in the pages of The Fugitive is a brash, precociously ironic young intellectual, adept with words, flip with postures, but withal seriously dedicated to poetry, ambitious, and quick to learn. He begins as a poet under the direct influence of Ransom, with some excursion into the Davidson manner, but he is soon lured away by his momentous discovery of T. S. Eliot. Once he commits himself to the authority of Eliot's poetry and his critical ideas, Tate never wavers in his allegiance.

His first published poem, a sonnet "To Intellectual Detachment," echoes Ransom in manner and diction while it exhibits a sly portrait of his mentor. A dramatized sketch of the kind at which Ransom excelled, it fails of Ransom's subtlety and control, but it carries a sharpness of its own. A line like "God give him peace! He gave none other peace," rings a clear echo of Ransom's courtly phrasing, but the poem provides no tonal setting for the language. The final quatrain reads:

And his art, disjected from his mind,
Was utterly a tool, so it possessed him;
A passionate devil, informed in humankind,
It turned on him—he's dead. Shall we detest him?

The phrasing, the light feminine rhyme, the broken quality and the twist of the final line, the irresolution, are all good Ransomic devices, but nothing is quite right. The Ransomic sounding "so it possessed him" can hardly be construed with the implications of "art disjected" and "tool." The ultimate question comes not as a vital indecision growing out of the complica

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The Fugitives: A Critical Account
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Fugitives - A Critical Account *
  • Foreword *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Table of Contents *
  • Chapter I- The Beginnings *
  • Chapter II- The Fugitive *
  • Chapter III- Ransom as Poet *
  • Chapter IV- Apprentice Tate *
  • Chapter V- Other Apprentices *
  • Chapter VI- Critics and Agrarians *
  • Chapter VII- Aesthetic Formalism *
  • Chapter VIII- Tate as Critic *
  • Chapter IX- Ransom as Critic *
  • Chapter X- Tate''s Fiction *
  • Chapter XI- Tate as Poet *
  • Chapter XII- Warren as Poet *
  • Chapter XIII- Warren''s Fiction *
  • Chapter XIV- Brooks and Warren, Critics *
  • Chapter XV- Conclusion *
  • Appendix- The Minor Fugitives *
  • Selected Bibliography *
  • Index *
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