Paterson

William Carlos Williams, Author, Christopher MacGowan, Editor
William Carlos Williams, Author, Christopher MacGowan, Editor New Directions Publishing Corporation $38 (311p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1225-0
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-8112-1298-4
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Despite its epic scope, Paterson is often chosen by nonspecialists, such as the social critic Robert Coles, as the way in to a discovery of Williams' exuberant and humane career as a poet. The going is made easier and the way is clarified by this invaluable new edition, for in it Williams' achievement can be seen in its proper context. His social concern, for instance, in contrast to that of other modernists, becomes more apparent. Misprints have been corrected, fugitive verses or sources have been tracked down, tab spaces have been restored and the crowded typography of recent editions has been opened up. Textual notes are thorough. We learn, for instance, that Williams changed the phrase ``seldom dig'' in a letter of Allen Ginsberg's excerpted here to ``seldom did,'' probably because the older poet did not know the Beat usage. Williams at his strongest is as good an American poet as there has been; still, it must be noted that not all of the five books of Paterson (plus fragments of a sixth) are up to that level. Yet, with this edition, the important project of re-editing Williams' poetry is skillfully completed. The work of an experimental master is laid out in a definitive edition. (Nov.)
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