Louis Dudek Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Dudek, Louis 1918–

Dudek is a Canadian poet, essayist, and editor. He was one of the most important contributors to the modern poetry movement in Canada during the 1940s. Critics have noted the prose-like quality of his poetry, which presents a verse that is strongly philosophical in content. Pound's influence is felt throughout Dudek's poetry, especially in his long poem Atlantis, in which he explicates the present through the past. Dudek is the founder and former editor of Delta magazine. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 45-48.)

Northrop Frye

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mr. Dudek is introverted and emotional: what takes fresh and novel shape in his poetry is a sensuous reaction. In The Transparent Sea …, a retrospective collection, the best pieces are songs conveying an immediate mood, such as the one beginning "A bird who sits over my door"; or studies in the movement and sound of words, like "Tree in a Snowstorm"; or ideas that suddenly twist round into paradoxes, like the admirable opening poem on the pineal gland, or his comparison of the universe to a watch which makes religion a search "for larger regions of clockwise justice"; or quick vivid sketches like "Late Winter" or "Lines for a Bamboo Stick," the latter with an Oriental reference; or a study of swift movement,...

(The entire section is 405 words.)

Dorothy Livesay

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Functional Poetry: A Proposal"] establishes Dudek as the contemporary Canadian poet most consciously concerned with shape, form and sound: the origins of rhythm. He feels that the widening scope of prose rhythm has set up an impasse for poetry which he would like to break through…. His aim apparently is to invade the fortress where prose has taken hold and return it to the rightful owner, poetry…. (pp. 26-7)

Before he reached this eighteenth century critical position Dudek as man and poet went through many phases. His earliest poetry in East of the City is lyrical and imagist: concerned not with sound effects so much as with pictures in rhythmic arrangement. Already the clouds and the...

(The entire section is 615 words.)

Paul Denham

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

At first sight, Louis Dudek's long poem Atlantis appears to be a re-working of the material of his earlier volume Europe (1953), since the imagery and structure of both are drawn from a North American's passionate pilgrimage in various parts of Europe. However, this volume is at once more concrete and more philosophical; he is not just looking for Europe, but for a submerged continent, a vision of a kind of Platonic reality underlying the dizzying multiplicity of human experience. He explains his procedure thus:

Every object a word, language, the record we make
a literal transcription,
then a...

(The entire section is 210 words.)

Douglas Barbour

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

What struck me … as I read through [Dudek's Collected Poetry] was the way in which certain approaches to subject matter, certain ways of articulating what can only be called arguments, form a part of his poetic content right from the start. Although he doesn't find the proper form for his "statement" right away, he is always striving for an intellectually tough poetry. Even in the early poems, where his control of "voice" is weak, the philosophic tone that marks all his serious poetry is present.

One of Dudek's continuing interests has been the process of thought. His poems often provide paradigms of that process, or icons of the results of that process. They move from a...

(The entire section is 2397 words.)