Lincoln Kirstein Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Lincoln Kirstein published one autobiographical novel, Flesh Is Heir: An Historical Romance (1932), numerous books on the history of the ballet and ballet appreciation; and articles on his life and friendships. He cofounded and served as coeditor of Hound and Horn magazine, a literary periodical, while an undergraduate student at Harvard University in the late 1920’s.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

As a poet, Lincoln Kirstein is best known for Rhymes of a Pfc, which poet W. H. Auden described as the most honest appraisal of life during World War II. He received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984. Kirstein received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 and the National Medal of Arts in 1985 for his career accomplishments as the founder of the American School of Ballet and the New York City Ballet, among other dance organizations.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Duberman, Martin. The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Duberman’s biography of Kirstein contrasts his success with his personal torment. Kirstein had bipolar disorder, and although he was married for many years to a woman he loved, he also had many gay relationships.

Hamovitch, Mimi. The Hound and Horn Letters. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1982. Collects the correspondence of the authors associated with Kirstein’s Harvard literary periodical. Includes a preface by Kirstein, reprinted in Mosaic on the evolution of the magazine.

Lefrak, Ashley, and Barbara Palfy, comp. Lincoln Kirstein: A Bibliography of Published Writings, 1922-1996. Edited by Peter Kayafas. New York: Eakins Press Foundation, 2007. Lefrak and Palfy have put together a bibliography of the published works of Kirstein.

Vaughan, David K. “Snapshots in the Book of War: Lincoln Kirstein’s Rhymes of a Pfc.” In Visions of War: World War II in Literature and Popular Culture, edited by M. Paul Holsinger and Mary Ann Schofield. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1992. Discusses Vaughan’s view of the three voices in Kirstein’s poetry and overviews the themes of the Rhymes of a Pfc in a biographical context.

_______. Words to Measure a War: Nine American Poets of World War II. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2009. Vaughan looks at war poets, contrasting those who became famous before and during the war with those who became known as poets after the war, including Kirstein.

Weber, Nicholas Fox. Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who Opened America to a New Art, 1928-1943. New York: Knopf, 1992. Art critic Weber looks at the lives of five artists, including Kirstein and his circle.