Other literary forms
In addition to more than thirty books of poetry, of which nearly half are translations from six languages, Kenneth Rexroth philosophically developed his erotic mysticism in verse drama, autobiographies, and critical essays. His four ritual plays of ecstatic transcendence in the midst of collapsing classical Greek civilization, influenced by Japanese N and Greek tragedy, were collected in 1951 as Beyond the Mountains, premiered by the Living Theater in New York. Praised as one of Rexroth’s most enduring achievements by poet William Carlos Williams, the classical scholar George Woodcock, and Japanese scholars Kodama Sanehide and Sakurai Emiko, Beyond the Mountains is distinguished by its faithfulness to both the Eastern and Western traditions that fed its subtle form, by its passionate characters who dramatize modern as well as ancient spiritual crises, and by its sensuously intellectual style.
In An Autobiographical Novel (1966, 1978) and Excerpts from a Life (1981), Rexroth’s adventures are boldly narrated just as he spoke—with the uncanny power of epigrammatically characterizing everyone he met. Moreover, his religious, philosophical, and literary ideas are amplified in his wide-ranging essays, which have served to expand the audience for modern poetry. Most of his essays have been collected, and he also provided important introductory essays to his editions of other writers.