Frost (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
There is no denying that Robert Frost was an enigmatic figure. With his keen sense of play, he loved to tease and perplex his audience, both in his poetry and his public readings, even to the point of creating false or misleading impressions about himself. During his later years, he carefully cultivated the public image of the New England sage, the wise and hoary dispenser of proverbs and witticisms. This image may have increased his popular audience, but it sometimes prevented literary critics from taking him seriously as a major poet. He was compared unfavorably with Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, and the New Critics found his poetry to be lacking in “complexity.” After his death in 1963, his critical reputation gradually improved, thanks to perceptive new critical studies by Ruben Brower, Richard Poirier, and others, but even today, opinions remain divided over Frost’s place as a modern American poet.
More than anything else, the publication of Lawrance Thompson’s massive three-volume “official” biography marked a change in critical estimation of Frost. Trying as much as possible to counterbalance the benign public persona, Thompson offered a strikingly different portrait of Frost, one that emphasized the mean and vindictive side to his personality. While purporting to collect every scrap of information about the poet, Thompson arranged and presented it in such a way that an almost entirely unattractive portrait of Frost emerged—petty,...
(The entire section is 2097 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Book World. XIV, October 7, 1984, p. 1.
Booklist. LXXXI, September 15, 1984, p. 103.
Kirkus Reviews. LII, August 15, 1984, p. 799.
Library Journal. CIX, September 15, 1984, p. 1760.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. November 4, 1984, p. 3.
The New Republic. CXCII, February 4, 1985, p. 39.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXIX, October 14, 1984, p. 1.
Newsweek. CIV, October 29, 1984, p. 120.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVI, September 21, 1984, p. 82.
Time. CXXIV, November 12, 1984, p. 102.
(The entire section is 54 words.)