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Lives of the Poets

by Schmidt, Michael

  • ISBN: 9780375406249
  • ISBN10: 0375406247

Lives of the Poets

by Schmidt, Michael

  • List Price: $35.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
  • Publish date: 03/01/2002
  • ISBN: 9780375406249
  • ISBN10: 0375406247
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Description: Setting out to write his own homage to Samuel Johnson's legendary Lives of the Poets of 200 years ago, Michael Schmidt introduces us to English-speaking poets from around the world, exploring their lives and examining their best and worst poems, their triumphs and tragedies, their loves and losses. From Chaucer, Blake, Wordsworth and Poe, to Stevens, Plath, Rich and Walcott, Schmidt establishes the main themes and key poems of each poet's work, demonstrating with wit and erudition how poets inspire one another across the centuries, as well as championing some unjustly neglected voices. En route, he outlines the ways in which history and politics intervene to shape and sometimes mis-shape the poetic imagination.

Schmidt's ambitious retelling of the story of English poetry is fueled by an infectious enthusiasm. Each century is brought vividly to life, from English poetry's humble beginning in the turbulent, Plague-ridden fourteenth century, to the court poetry of the fifteenth, the studied, Europeanized lyricism of the sixteenth, the political and religious fervor of the seventeenth and the cruel coffee-shop satire of the eighteenth century. With the nineteenth century came the dawn of Romanticism and its retreat before the new scientific rationalism, followed in our own century by the two world wars, with Modernism strung between them.

Schmidt speaks for a common language: it is the language of poetry which unites people across the ages and across continents. Skeptical of modern theory (but not of modern scholarship), Schmidt avoids the baffling complexities of fashionable jargon and instead grounds each poet's achievement in his or her life.

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