By Sacvan Bercovitch
IVolume eight, interested in works of poetry and feedback written among 1940 and the current, brings jointly varied units of fabrics and narrative varieties: the cultured and the institutional. Discarding the normal synoptic evaluation of significant figures, von Hallberg, Graff, and Carton settle in prefer of a heritage from the inside--a background of interstices and kinfolk, equivalent to the duty of contemplating the contexts of artwork, energy, and feedback during which it's set.
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Extra resources for The Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. 8: Poetry and Criticism, 1940-1995
Causes and consequences, choices — these are the concerns especially of political poets. If this sounds rationalistic, one should remember that political writing addresses the possibility of deliberate action. Distinguished political poetry, as I see it, challenges the political opinions of its audience; it does not merely extend the blunt discourse that is routine in political controversy. The best political poetry draws lines differently than the newspapers do, and this is exactly the challenge to its audience.
Partisan Review and the other mainstream reviews of the late 1940s and 1950s regularly published Letters from Paris, London, Berlin, Munich, Spain, and Rome, but no Letters from Seoul, Tokyo, or Kyoto. Literary intellectuals were not particularly interested in Asia, though American troops were stationed in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. And America would fight its next two wars in the Far East. Literary intellectuals sought the prestige of European culture, in the postwar years, not a grasp of the political future.
When Cal, a Colt-packing anarchistic wanderer, is beaten by McGrath's uncle, the male society extends to him no immediate assistance or sympathy: "They had left Cal there / In the bloody dust that day . . " [my ellipsis]. The tough guys leave him to the shame of having been beaten by a tougher guy. " Political solidarity does not replace the individualistic macho code of the west, whereby men fight one on one and gather together to sing, boast, spit, and gang bang farmgirls. McGrath adopts with bravado — guilty, I think — the style of this solidarity, even though it sometimes repels him.
The Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. 8: Poetry and Criticism, 1940-1995 by Sacvan Bercovitch