Hart Crane: A Re-Introduction
Warner Berthoff University of Minnesota Press, 1989 Library of Congress PS3505.R272Z565 1989 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
Hart Crane was first published in 1989. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
More than half a century after his death, the work of Hart Crane (1899–1932) remains central to our understanding of twentieth-century American poetry. During his short life, Crane's contemporaries had difficulty seeing past the "roaring boy" who drank too much and hurled typewriters from windows; in recent years, he has come to be seen as a kind of "last poet" whose only theme is self-destruction, and who himself exemplifies the breakdown of poetry in the modern age. Taking as a point of departure Robert Lowell's 1961 valuation of Crane and his power to speak from "the center of things," Warner Berthoff in this book reappraises the essential character and force of Crane's still problematic achievement. Though he takes into account the substantial body of commentary on Crane's work, his primary intent is to look afresh at the poems themselves, and at the poet's clear-eyed (and brilliant) letters. This approach enables Berthoff, first, to track the emergence and development of Crane's lyric style—an art that recreates, in compact form, the turbulence of the modern city. He then explores the background and historical community that nourished Crane's creative imagination, and he evaluates Crane's conception of the ideal modern poetic: a poetry of ecstasy created with architectural craft. His final chapter is devoted to The Bridge, the ambitious lyric suite that proved to be the climax and terminus of Crane's work. Berthoff's emphasis throughout is on the beauty and power of individual poems, and on the sanity, shrewdness, and sense of purpose that informed Crane's working intelligence.
Hart Crane: After His Lights
Brian M. Reed University of Alabama Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3505.R272Z783 2006 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
A critical reassessment of the life’s work of a major American poet.
With his suicide in 1932, Hart Crane left behind a small body of work—White Buildings (1926) and The Bridge (1930). Yet, Crane’s poetry was championed and debated publicly by many of the most eminent literary and cultural critics of his day, among them Van Wyck Brooks, Kenneth Burke, Robert Graves, Allen Tate, and Edmund Wilson. The Bridge appears in its entirety in the Norton Anthology of American Literature, and Crane himself has been the subject two recent biographies.
In Hart Crane: After His Lights, Brian Reed undertakes a study of Crane’s poetic output that takes into account, but also questions, the post-structural and theoretical developments in humanities scholarship of the last decade that have largely approached Crane in a piecemeal way, or pigeonholed him as represen-tative of his class, gender, or sexual orientation. Reed examines Crane’s career from his juvenilia to his posthumous critical reception and his impact on practicing poets following World War II. The first part of the study tests common rubrics of literary theory—nationality, sexuality, period—against Crane’s poetry, and finds that these labels, while enlightening, also obfuscate the origin and character of the poet’s work. The second part examines Crane’s poetry through the process of its composition, sources, and models, taking up questions of style, genealogy, and genre. The final section examines Crane’s influence on subsequent generations of American poets, especially by avant-garde literary circles like the New American poets, the Black Mountain School, the New York School, and the Beats.
The result is a study that complicates and enriches our understandings of Crane’s poetry and contributes to the ongoing reassessment of literary modernism’s origins, course, and legacy.
"Canonized for being insufficiently American although he took America as his subject, chastised for obscurity by readers who would not allow or would not read homosexual meanings, Crane embodies many understandings of America, and of the predicament of the gay writer."—Voice Literary Supplement
"A brilliant critical model for understanding how textuality and sexuality can produce pervasive effects on each other in the writing of a figure like Crane."—Michael Moon, Duke University
On the Modernist Long Poem
Margaret Dickie University of Iowa Press, 1986 Library of Congress PS310.M57D53 1986 | Dewey Decimal 811.5209
Beyond Lionel Trilling's classic definition of Modernism as anticultural and subversive, Margaret Dickie posits American Modernist poetry as both conservative and affirmative—conservative because it was dominated by the composition of the long poem, affirmative because these poems aimed to restore public themes to poetry, to instruct and improve, to "affirm the gold thread in the pattern," as Ezra Pound claimed.
Each poet discussed in this new study—T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, and Ezra Pound—began his career as an experimenter in brief lyrics and then, paradoxically, developed an ambition to write a long public poem. The poems they wrote—The Waste Land, The Bridge, Paterson, and The Cantos—differed in length, in program, and in composition, but all were alike in their idealization of form, their commitment to the long poem, and the troubled and difficult process of their composition. Read together, they offer a new understanding of the Modernist sense of form shared by these quite different writers.
Tracing the development of each poem from the poet's initial announced plans through the lengthy writing and reconsideration of purpose, Dickie offers a new history not only of each poem but of the American Modernists and the ways they adapted the avant-garde tendencies of European Modernism to their own native needs.