68. (Robert Lowell)

Here is another attempt at the Lowell muddle, since the last was either abstruse or wrong. Lowell’s poetry can profitably be read against his modernist masters, especially Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot (who also reaches Lowell by way of the Agrarians). Behind these modernists are the Victorians and Romantics–and picking and choosing from the influences of the nineteenth-century, Eliot and Pound and their followers propose … Continue reading 68. (Robert Lowell)

20. (Marcel Proust)

Still reading, slowly, the second volume of Recherche. I’ve leapt from the Moncrieff/Kilmartin/Enright to the new James Grieve translation without wincing. Reading today, I came to a passage that seemed at first to go against what I’d written earlier, in post 14. (John Ruskin), about Proust and the hearts of others. There, I’d quoted the narrator blissful in the thought of absorption into his grandmother’s heart, … Continue reading 20. (Marcel Proust)

19. (John Milton)

The wryly and slyly passionate William Empson in Some Versions of Pastoral, at the end of the chapter on Milton and his eighteenth-century editor, the classicist Richard Bentley: Like so many characters in history our first parents may be viewed with admiration so long as they do not impose on us their system of values; it has become safe to admit that in spite of what … Continue reading 19. (John Milton)

17. (Charles Baudelaire)

Robert Lowell’s 1961 Imitations did more for the reputation of twentieth-century poets Mandelstam and Montale than it did for the nineteenth-century Europeans, Baudelaire and Leopardi, since the latter never needed much rehabilitating in literary circles and since the latter has still not received as much attention, in translation or in cultural myths, as he is due (the somewhat recent Galassi translation notwithstanding). But Lowell’s collection … Continue reading 17. (Charles Baudelaire)

10. (Bishop Henry King)

One year, a while ago, for a Christmas gift, I asked for what was on the wishlist of many: an edition of Bishop Henry King’s poems. I am not sure what it cost, but I received an out of print edition–with the pages mostly uncut. And having learned from previous experience how-not-to-cut-pages, but never learning how to do so, I refrained and the book yielded … Continue reading 10. (Bishop Henry King)

5. (D.H. Lawrence)

V.S. Pritchett, introducing his edition of the Oxford Book of Short Stories, admits that he admires D.H. Lawrence most as a master of that form–short narrative–rather than as a novelist or poet ( a claim he makes elsewhere, in his 1980 review of a Lawrence biography for the NYRB). For fine criticism of the stories, we can turn to R.P. Blackmur–an ironic place to look, since … Continue reading 5. (D.H. Lawrence)