Stones of the Sur: Poetry by Robinson Jeffers, Photographs by Morley Baer

Robinson Jeffers, Author, Morley Baer, Author, James Karman, Editor Stanford University Press $70 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8047-3942-9
In the 1920s, on the strength of Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems, Jeffers's critical reputation rivaled those of Frost and Eliotwhile the relatively frank sexual material to be found in his long, rough-hewn, often Callifornia-based narratives didn't hurt his popular reputation, as Washington State University professor Hunt notes in his introduction. After hitting the cover of Time in 1935, Jeffers (1887-1962) made a selection from his work three years later for Random House, one that has been listed as ""out of stock indefinitely"" for the last few years. A much more modest Random selected edition published a few years after Jeffers's death remains in print in paper, but this huge selection, culled from the monumental five-volume collected edition Hunt has edited for Stanford, is much more comprehensive, and can claim improved textual accuracy. Hunt's edition strips the punctuation added by contemporary printers (which ""often obscures the rhythm and pacing of what Jeffers actually wrote, and at points even obscures meaning and nuance"") and includes a carefully weighed choice of long and short works, as well as unpublished work. Jeffers's serious and sometimes morally indignant parables have most recently been taken up by Dana Gioia and others as a bulwark against Pound-and-Eliot-line modernism. This new selection will get readers closer than ever to the poems as Jeffers himself saw them, reacquainting them with ""the night-wind veering, the smell of the spilt wine,"" and allowing readers to place him on their own. (Apr. 26) Forecast: While this selection is clearly intended to replace the Random edition, some readers may still prefer the poet's own selection (which could be provoked back into print), though this set will now have the edge on syllabi and in libraries. Further Jeffers projects from Stanford include Volume Five of The Collected Poetry, which will complete the project, slated for August, and Stones of the Sur, a book of lush Carmel coast photos by Morley Baer matched with appropriate Jeffers poems, which arrives from the press in June ($60 160p ISBN 0-8047-3942-0).
Reviewed on: 06/01/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
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