Selected Essays of John Crowe Ransom
John Crowe Ransom, poet, teacher, and literary critic, became known as the father of the New Criticism. The primary formative influences upon his attitudes and thought appear to have been his Southern background and his education at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar studying classics of philosophy and literature. His career spanned sixty years, first at Vanderbilt University, where he had been an undergraduate, and later at Kenyon College, where he edited the Kenyon Review. Thomas Daniel Young and John Hindle have selected twenty-four pieces, including addresses, articles, and chapters from books, to represent Ransom’s critical thought; they have also added portions of a letter as an appendix and have provided an introduction. Presented chronologically and ranging over a period of thirty-five years, the selections reveal Ransom’s development as a critic and thinker and illuminate the changes in his opinions. Among the subjects treated in the collection are social criticism, theory of criticism, analyses of particular poems or passages, and evaluations of individual poets.
In reading through Ransom’s work, one is struck by a mental cast resembling that of two important predecessors in both poetry and literary criticism, John Dryden and Matthew Arnold, whom he sometimes echoes. Like them, he thinks largely in polarities or...
(The entire section is 2137 words.)
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