“Given our long-term disregard of the New Criticism, Davis‘s compendium is especially welcome.... Davis provides richly informative, well-argued, and elegantly styled introductions, head-notes, and annotations, as well as discriminating suggestions for further reading.”
Virginia Quarterly Review
“In Praising It New: The Best of the New Criticism, Garrick Davis offers poets and students an exceptionally well chosen selection from the theoretical essays of the New Criticism in hopes that it will remain an available influence. They are far more interesting than such essays generally tend to be—a strength of the best of the New Critics and one that will continue to serve them well with both an academic and a general audience.”
“This anthology is both important and necessary. No other collection gives us such an excellent opportunity to go back to the New Criticism and see it again, as if for the first time.”
Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing
“Just how seriously the New Critics took poetry, and how much subtlety and conviction they brought to reading it, can be seen on every page of Praising It New, an excellent new anthology of the New Criticism edited by Garrick Davis.”
The New York Sun
Marked by a rigorously close textual reading, detached from
biographical or other extratextual material, New Criticism was the
dominant literary theory of the mid-twentieth century. Since that
time, schools of literary criticism have arisen in support of or in opposition to
the approach advocated by the New Critics. Nonetheless, the theory remains
one of the most important sources for groundbreaking criticism and continues
to be a controversial approach to reading literature.
Praising It New is the first anthology of New Criticism to be printed in fifty years. It includes important essays by such influential poets and critics as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Yvor Winters, Cleanth Brooks, R. P. Blackmur, W. K. Wimsatt, and Robert Penn Warren. Together, these authors ushered in the modernist age of poetry and criticism and transformed the teaching of literature in the schools. As the American poet and critic Randall Jarrell once noted: “I do not believe there has been another age in which so much extraordinarily good criticism of poetry has been written.”
This anthology now makes much of the best American poetry criticism available again, and includes short biographies and selected bibliographies of its chief figures. Praising It New is the perfect introduction for students to the best American poetry criticism of the twentieth century.
Garrick Davis is the founding editor of the Contemporary Poetry Review, the largest online archive of poetry criticism in the world (cprw.com). His poetry and criticism have appeared in the New Criterion, Verse, the Weekly Standard, McSweeney’s, and the New York Sun. He also edited Child of the Ocmulgee: the Selected Poems of Freda Quenneville. He is the literature specialist of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC.
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John Updike has won a National Book Award and has earned both critical and popular acclaim. At the moment, his reputation rests largely on his novels, especially Rabbit, Run; The Centaur; Of the Farm; and The Coup. Of his many books, more than half are volumes of poems, stories, essays and reviews, and one play, yet the numerous critical books on Updike concentrate primarily on his long fiction with the result that over one half of his canon is often ignored.
Groundbreaking anthologies of this kind come along once in a generation and, in time, define that generation. The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets identifies a group of poets who have recently begun to make an important mark on contemporary poetry, and their accomplishment and influence will only grow with time. The poets gathered here do not constitute a school or movement; rather they are a group of unique artists working at the top of their craft.
Critical essays provide sources for stimulating new thoughts and perspectives on poetry. Finding such essays on specific poems can be a frustrating experience for the scholar or the student. American and British Poetry: A Guide to the Criticism, 1925–1978 guides the researcher quickly to relevant sources of critical writing.
Garrick Davis’s Terminal Diagrams may have been inspired by the illustrated maps in airport lounges, or perhaps they are the blueprints of the Apocalypse, with their subjects and objects representing the bitter fruits of either some future nightmare or the present world. Regardless, their vision is so bleak and unsparing, only a few will be able to savor them. Here, the art of poetry has been mechanized just as the world has been mechanized.