The first book-length exploration of Marianne Moore's prose focuses on her private and public critical exchanges with Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and T.S. Eliot. Drawing on previously unpublished material from the Moore Archive—correspondence, notebooks, manuscript notes, and books—Celeste Goodridge establishes Moore's central role as both poet-critic and prose stylist, providing a new perspective for considering Moore in relation to her contemporaries.
With clarity and elegance, Goodridge shows that Moore's most compelling critical judgments can best be recovered by examining the relationship between her private disclosures and her public pronouncements; her aesthetic of "hints and disguises" reveals a tension between what she felt free to voice and what she chose to veil.
In writing about these four poets, Moore made her greatest contribution to modernist criticism. With unusual perspicacity, she anticipated and defined many of the critical debates which still surround these writers' projects. Furthermore, Moore's critical exchanges indicated that her deepest alliances were with Stevens and Pound and not, as most have argued, with Williams and Eliot.