Randall Jarrell and His Age
Randall Jarrell (1914--1965) was the most influential poetry
critic of his generation. He was also a lyric poet, comic novelist,
translator, children's book author, and close friend of Elizabeth
Bishop, Robert Lowell, Hannah Arendt, and many other important
writers of his time. Jarrell won the 1960 National Book Award for
poetry and served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.
Amid the resurgence of interest in Randall Jarrell, Stephen Burt
offers this brilliant analysis of the poet and essayist.
Burt's book examines all of Jarrell's work, incorporating new
research based on previously undiscovered essays and poems. Other
books have examined Jarrell's poetry in biographical or formal
terms, but none have considered both his aesthetic choices and
their social contexts. Beginning with an overview of Jarrell's life
and loves, Burt argues that Jarrell's poetry responded to the
political questions of the 1930s, the anxieties and social
constraints of wartime America, and the apparent prosperity,
domestic ideals, and professional ideology that characterized the
1950s. Jarrell's work is peopled by helpless soldiers, anxious
suburban children, trapped housewives, and lonely consumers.
Randall Jarrell and His Age situates the poet-critic among
his peers -- including Bishop, Lowell, and Arendt -- in literature
and cultural criticism. Burt considers the ways in which Jarrell's
efforts and achievements encompassed the concerns of his time, from
teen culture to World War II to the Cuban Missile Crisis; the book
asks, too, how those efforts might speak to us now.
Subjects: Language & Literature, History
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