Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Walter Savage Landor once said, “Poetry was always my amusement, prose my study and business.” When he was forty-five years of age, after having devoted many years to poetic composition, he began what became Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, in which he found the form best suited to the peculiar aim and direction of his art. Although some of his poetry attains a gemlike perfection, it suffers by comparison with the work of his more famous contemporaries. While the major Romantic writers, with their emphasis on imagination, were bringing new life to poetry, Landor chose not to go beyond ideas that could be clearly grasped. His poetry thus lacks the emotional appeal necessary to the highest attainment in this form. In prose writing, however, where clarity and restraint are more to be desired, Landor deserves consideration with the best of his age.
By the nature of his character, Landor was drawn for guidance and inspiration to the classical tradition. One side of his personality admired balance, moderation, and precision, qualities admirably displayed in his writing. The other side was irascible, impractical, and impulsive; these traits are revealed in some of his personal relationships. Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Landor appears to have found in his restrained and faultless art a counterpoise to his external world of turbulence.
Landor was a true classicist, not a belated adherent of neoclassicism with its...
(The entire section is 1531 words.)
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