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The Mentor Book of Major American Poets Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1962

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The Marvel and Other Short Stories is a collected anthology of six short stories written by the winners of the Austin Macauley World Book Day short story competition.

Oscar Williams (1900-1964), editor of this book, was himself a distinguished poet. The author of five books of poetry, including "That's All That Matters" and "Selected Poems, " he has been called "clever, disconcerting, rash" (Lionel Abel) and "a very real and important poet...(whose) powerful imagery and unique personal idiom will add a permanent page to American poetry" (Dylan Thomas).

Mr. Williams achieved literary distinction not only as a highly original and vigorous American poet, but also as one of the great poetry anthologists of his time. His most outstanding anthologies are "The Little Treasury Series," "The War Poets, Immortal Poems of the English Language, The Pocket Book of Modern Verse" and "The New Pocket Anthology of American Verse, " the latter three published by Pocket Books. These are accepted as present-day classics in their fields and are in wide use in colleges and universities. Other anthologies include a revised edition of Palgrave's "The Golden Treasury, The Major British Poets, The Major American Poets, " and "The Silver Treasury of Light Verse."

Mr. Williams' last and most ambitious anthology was "Master Poems of the English Language, " now also published by Pocket Books. A huge work of over 1100 pages, illustrated with portraits of the poets and combining a comprehensive anthology with a broad sampling of critical writing, it is a superb contribution by the man Robert Lowell called "probably the best anthologist in America."

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (July 1, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451627911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451627919
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on September 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Mentor Book of Major American Poets," edited by Oscar Williams and Edwin Honig, brings together generous selections from the work of 20 writers: Edward Taylor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Stephen Crane, Robert Frost, Vachel Lindsay, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, John Crowe Ransom, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Archibald MacLeish, E.E. Cummings, Hart Crane, and W.H. Auden. These authors span the 17th to 20th centuries (the youngest was born in 1907). Many styles, forms, and themes are contained within this rich anthology.
That having been said, I must note that the book has a copyright date of 1962, and it really shows its age. It's hard to imagine someone compiling an anthology of major american poets (to 1962) today and making the omissions that Williams and Honig did: Anne Bradstreet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many others.
Despite its deficiencies, this is a wonderful collection that contains a wealth of memorable pieces. A few of my favorites: Taylor's rapturous "Stupendous Love!"; Emerson's "The Snowstorm," which celebrates the "frolic architecture of the snow"; Poe's masterwork "The Raven"; Whitman's ecstatic, all-embracing "Song of Myself"; a marvelous selection of Dickinson's quirky genius; Robinson's tragic "Richard Cory"; S. Crane's haunting short poems; Lindsay's lush, musical (and very politically incorrect!) "The Congo"; Cummings' amazing sonnet beginning "when serpents bargain for the right to squirm"; and much more.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in American poetry, but caution that, because of its dated nature, it needs to be supplemented.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This work contains samples of many outstanding American poets and also of the great American poets. In my own feeling the great American poets are few in number. Whitman, Dickinson , Wallace Stevens , Eliot ( if he is an American) and on the borderline Poe Frost and Cummings. This anthology which contains works only up until the early sixties does not thus include today's most well- known active poets. But in my feeling( and it is only that ) these poets do not come to the level of their great predecessors. And here I think Emerson's judgment is correct and the one poet who most embodies the spirit of America at least in its most expansive phase is Whitman.

This anthology though contains the work of many very good poets , and thus any real reader of it will certainly have a true idea and feeling of what American poetry is about.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Other reviewers have noted that this an aging book. It's a fair criticism, but this is still a great collection of some of the best works of some of the most important American poets. It's nice and small and relatively cheap. I keep a copy of it on my nightstand and read from it almost daily.
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Each of the poets is given a very generous selection of important poems and added information, and the choice of poets for that time is significant.
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