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Old Possum Ain't Dead

When T. S. Eliot gave a lecture on “The Frontiers of Criticism” on April 30, 1956, in the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota—the largest basketball arena in America at the time—­nearly fourteen thousand people showed up. A front-page column for the Minneapolis . . . . Continue Reading »

Dark Mercy

“Hast thy dark descending and most art merciful then.”Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutschland You who are both Beginning and Ending          Though You have neither;Maker both of light and darkness, blending          Judgment and . . . . Continue Reading »

America’s Fat Knight

Harold Bloom, who died in October at age eighty-nine, was The Last Great American Literary Critic. The Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale, he wrote best sellers, appeared on talk shows, and collected honorary doctorates like lint. Bloom championed the Western Canon against its critics, . . . . Continue Reading »

Clarify Me, Please, God of the Galaxies

The English poet Elizabeth Jennings had the peculiar fate of being in the right place at the right time in the wrong way. Her career began splendidly. Her verse appeared in prominent journals, championed by Oxford’s new generation of tastemakers. Her first publication, Poems (1953), . . . . Continue Reading »

The Half-Empty Auditorium

The following essay is adapted from Chapter 3 of “The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking.” Those who love literature, or at any rate have a vested interest in making sure great works of literature are taught at universities and that radical politics are not, could only find the conquest . . . . Continue Reading »

Keep It Shakespeare, Stupid

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is launching a three-year project to commission 36 pairs of playwrights and dramaturges to translate the works of Shakespeare into English. Yes, English. John McWhorter in the Wall Street Journal expresses support for this plan, saying, “Much of Shakespeare goes . . . . Continue Reading »

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