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Critical Essays on American Literature.
In an essay on the audible reading of poetry Winters explains some of his most useful ideas about the sound structure of poetry and he suggests that modern reading habits have done great damage to our capacity to read properly or to gain an audible impression of literature when we are not reading aloud. He is especially scathing in his comment on the modern vogue of rapid reading courses; such scanning, he claims, cannot properly be called reading at all. A commentator has suggested that:
Yvor Winters (1900-1968) was one of those critics who fall between the cracks of all the theoretical compartments. In addition to his poetry he wrote a lot of criticism including numerous essays devoted to the principles of criticism although he is not a protagonist in the contemporary debate and is not mentioned in it. Even in his lifetime he was a marginal figure, sometimes lumped with the New Critics, sometimes dismissed as a simple-minded moralist. However, his ideas have lasting interest and at the height of his powers he wrote prose of marvellous clarity and vigour. Some of his best essays stand as works of literature in their own right, something that cannot be said of very many modern works of criticism or scholarship.
Critical Insights: Southern Gothic Literature - Salem Press
The Australian poet, academic and critic A D Hope published “Literature versus the Universities” after a 1958 tour of Canada, Great Britain and the United States. He reported that the standards of scholarship and criticism were high but “I found myself getting more and more uneasy, until uneasiness in the end grew into a kind of nightmare”. Hope’s story began in the 19th century when the study of English literature began to displace the classics from the centre of university studies in the humanities. At the beginning of the 20th century English studies beyond the first degree were pursued by poorly paid and dedicated scholars who mostly carried on their studies for their own sake.
Winters writes like a man who has the whole history of English and American verse (and much French as well) sounding physically in his ear. The loss of this sort of intimacy with the most fundamental mode of a poem’s existence, he warns in perfect seriousness, has brought us to the edge of a new barbarism. The inability to hear is also an inability to read: literature remains a ‘closed book’ to those who are insensitive to the living presence of what lies within. What is at stake, and the stakes are very high indeed, is the ability to recognise in a poem where and how its meaning is conducted.
Find The Gothic Novel: A Selection of Critical Essays (Ca..
One of his missions in life was to combat the flight from reason and moral responsibility that he saw as a major theme in modern literature, under the influence of the idea that literature, like art in general, is a form of self-expression. He called this the Romantic theory, though under the influence of Jacques Barzun’s defence of romanticism I am not prepared to join the ranks of those who reflexively beat romantics for imagined sins, only for real ones.
Includes my sketch of the history of modernist Gothic, my essay on Wilde's Aesthetic Gothic, and eight other essays on authors from Bram Stoker and Thomas Hardy through M. R. James to Samuel Beckett and Bret Easton Ellis.
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Gothic grotesques essays on fantasy literature, College pape
As noted, Winters combined the careers of poet, critic, teacher and scholar despite resistance which he blamed on the ‘romantic’ view of creation. Under the influence of this doctrine, the critic came to be regarded as an inferior being, rather like a teacher who really should be doing something else if only he had the ability to do so. With this low regard for critics and commentators went the idea that the poet is set apart from the common herd, divorced from the mundane problems of the world and devoted to a special kind of communication that is only accessible to equally enlightened folk. Winters would have none of that. For him, creative literature and poetry are extensions of ordinary language, perhaps distinguished by a high level of skill and precision in achieving certain effects, but not set apart on the other side of a great divide. He also detested pure theory, divorced from the practical task of crafting words into poetry.
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