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Robert Frost (Critical Insights)


This title presents in-depth critical discussions of his life and works. Widely celebrated during his lifetime as the greatest living American poet, Robert Frost remains one of the few poets whose work is enjoyed by scholars and general readers alike. A record four time winner of the Pulitzer Prize who gave readings across America and in countries as far flung as England, Brazil, and Russia, Frost is nevertheless known not as a cosmopolitan but as a plainspoken portraitist of rural New England. Yet despite this reputation, Frost is much more than a regional poet: his wit, irony, and willingness to rest in ambiguity make him a poet of the cosmic and universal. In the age of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, he stood alone in writing a poetry that was simultaneously accessible, complex, and profound. Edited and with an introduction by Morris Dickstein, Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and senior fellow of the Center for the Humanities, this volume in the "Critical Insights" series brings together a variety of critical perspectives on Frost's life and works. For readers new to Frost, four original essays provide valuable context for understanding and assessing his work. Together they outline the work's historical and cultural contexts, survey the major pieces of Frost criticism, examine Frost's relationship with modernist poetics, and consider how his use of paradox and contradiction participate in and differ from the use established by Whitman and Emerson. Nine other previously published essays deepen readers' understanding and offer a sampling of the key concerns of contemporary Frost critics. Among these essays, David Sanders draws on Frost's letters and interviews to understand how he developed his poetic voice from careful observation of his New England neighbors and how he sought to make these people visible within the growing mass culture of twentieth century America. Roger Gilbert further examines Frost's poetics in his discussion of the recurrence of the trope of the walk in Frost's poetry, concluding that, for Frost, the trope parallels the dynamic act of poetic composition. Other essays examine Frost's politics, with Frank Lentricchia considering how his poetry, with its emphasis on replicating the rhythms of everyday speech rather than traditional conceptions of the literary, gives evidence to the notion that poetics can be a register of social and political change, and Tyler B. Hoffman offering a unique reading of Frost's view of industrialism and the New Deal, arguing that Frost was not the archconservative that leftist critics have made him out to be but rather took a highly nuanced view of the poet's obligations to politics. Jeff Westover extends this vein of criticism by dissecting Frost's nationalism, and Robert Bernard Hass discusses how Frost's interest in science, especially astronomy, impacted the religious beliefs his mother inculcated in him as a child. Uniquely, this volume also contains an original piece by Paris Review contributor Elizabeth Gumport, who offers a writer's perspective on Frost's fierce independence. Rounding out the collection is a brief biography and chronology of Frost's life and an extensive bibliography for readers wishing to study the poet's work in greater depth. Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of 'Works Cited', along with endnotes.



On Robert Frost / Morris Dickstein
Biography of Robert Frost / James Norman O'Neill 
The Paris review perspective / Elizabeth Gumport 
Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, and modernist poetics / Matthew J. Bolton 
Robert Frost: a look at the critical reception / Janyce Marson 
Technology, labor, and the sacred: the cultural context of Robert Frost / Jamey Hecht 
The paradoxes of Robert Frost: a mediation on "discordant elements" / Anastasia Vahaviolos Valassis 
Frost's North of Boston, its language, its people, and its poet / David Sanders
Robert Frost and the politics of labor / Tyler B. Hoffman 
Robert Frost: the walk as parable / Roger Gilbert 
Nature and poetry / Judith Oster 
The resentments of Robert Frost / Frank Lentricchia 
We are sick with space / Robert Bernard Hass 
The need of being versed: Robert Frost and the limits of rhetoric / Shira Wolosky 
National forgetting and remembering in the poetry of Robert Frost / Jeff Westover
Robert Frost / Denis Donoghue

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