M(acha) L(ouis) Rosenthal Critical Essays

Introduction

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

M(acha) L(ouis) Rosenthal 1917–

American poet, critic, and editor.

Rosenthal is a well-respected critic and scholar of British and American poetry. His independence from any particular "school" of criticism and his passion and respect for "the poem itself" are significant elements of his critical method. Rosenthal treats each of the poems he examines as a unique and important expression, and he is noted for his ability to point up the subtle complexity and depth of a work. Among his most influential studies are The Modern Poets (1960) and The New Poets (1967), which analyze the verse of some of the most important poets of the twentieth century. Like all of Rosenthal's critical works, these books are shaped by his desire to make poetry accessible to the average reader. They provide perceptive readings of individual poems and also place them within the general context of modern literature.

In addition to his critical studies, Rosenthal has published five volumes of his own verse. Although some critics find these poems overly academic and lacking in emotional impact, others admire Rosenthal's ability to use a wide range of forms and styles to explore traditional themes. His collection She (1977) is evidence of his great interest in the poetic sequence. Within his sequences as well as his individual poems, Rosenthal's style ranges from traditionally metered lyrics to free verse and prose poems. Poems 1964–1980 (1981) displays these different styles and reveals various tones. This collection contains poems that are light and sardonic as well as ones that are deeply emotional and philosophical.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 4; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 5.)