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No Other Book: Selected Essays Paperback – June 20, 2000
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Jarrell's slash-and-burn style caused a certain discomfort among his fellow poets, particularly those who fell short of his sky-high standards. And indeed, his inspired jabs have lost little of their pungency or amusement: Oscar Williams's poetry, for example, "gave the impression of having been written on a typewriter by a typewriter." Even Walt Whitman, whose reputation Jarrell single-handedly repaired, gets the occasional spanking.
Only a man with the most extraordinary feel for language, or none whatsoever, could have cooked up Whitman's worst messes. For instance: what other man in all the history of this planet would have said, "I am a habitant of Vienna"? (One has an immediate vision of him as a sort of French Canadian halfbreed to whom the Viennese are offering, with trepidation, through the bars of a zoological garden, little mounds of whipped cream.)A master of the sublime putdown, Jarrell was even more masterful when it came to praise: his essays on Whitman, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens permanently changed the way we read these poets. He also functioned as a early-warning system for his own generation and the one to follow--who else was sufficiently prescient to pick out Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich as front-runners? And unlike his New Critical contemporaries, Jarrell never made the mistake of divorcing life from art. His comment on Frost's poetry applies equally to his own productions: "How little they seem performances, no matter how brilliant or magical, how little things made primarily of words (or of ink and paper, either), and how much things made out of lives and the world that lives inhabit." No other poet has ever written about his art with such electricity and intelligence--which makes No Other Book one of the true treasures of this or any other year. --James Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
After reading Mr. Leithauser's selection, I bought Jarrell's four books of criticism, and have read them all. Some of the reviewers have complained about Mr. Leithauser's choices. I think it is great. A wonderful introduction to Jarrell's great essays. Mr. Leithauser's short selections for "A Jarrell Gallery," demonstrate quite easily the epigrammatic nature and customary brilliance of Jarrell (they include short selections from many of Jarrell's essays that he did not include in this Selected). In fact Mr. Leithauser's selection made me re-evaluate the editor. I still don't care for his poetry, but he's an intelligent man.
I highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in poetry (his essays on individual poets are exceptional. Though I often disagree with Jarrell's estimate of Graves, Williams, Moore, Cummings and others, they are nevertheless a delight to read--should not criticism be enjoyable??), the state of criticism (in other words, atrocious, which Jarrell had predicted--"The first generation [of critics] wrote distinguishably well; the second wrties indistiguishably ill; who knows how the third will write?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jarrell's lush communication style has always thrilled me. For the rare impact Jarrell's style has on me. Read morePublished on December 1, 1999 by linda cadigan
Quite unlike the last writer, I think the main failing of the selection is that it includes too many of J's sad-state-of-the-culture pieces, which are repetitive, certainly don't... Read morePublished on August 1, 1999