Selected Essays of R.P. Blackmur

R. P. Blackmur, Author Ecco Press $17.5 (372p) ISBN 978-0-88001-083-2
Perhaps no critic of our time has brought a greater intelligence or more magisterial technical equipment to the close examining of literary texts than Blackmur (19041965). This highly individual, even maverick proponent of the ""new criticism'' exalted imagination above reason, admired the skeptical mobility of Montaigne and scorned dogma and theory as applied to art. The re-publication of 14 of his finest essays seems especially apt at this time of increasing specialization and emphasis on conscious (as opposed to unconscious) skills. Donoghue, in a stimulating introduction, helps the reader get a bead on the special meanings with which Blackmur invested such terms as behavior, reason and actuality. Included here are ``A Critic's Job of Work,'' a long essay on Henry Adams (a central Blackmur preoccupation) and brilliantly perceptive pieces on Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Yeats, Eliot, Dostoyevski and Thomas Mann. Blackmur's criticism is difficult reading, but once digested it is profoundly affecting. (April 7)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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