M(eyer) H(oward) Abrams

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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

M(eyer) H(oward) Abrams 1912–

American critic and editor.

Although Abrams has written many scholarly essays and edited several texts of literary criticism, his reputation as a critic rests on his two books on the English Romantic movement, The Mirror and the Lamp and Natural Supernaturalism. In the former, Abrams elaborated on the images of "the mirror" as a metaphor for the classical view that art must imitate reality and "the lamp" as a metaphor for the Romantic belief that artists should express personal perceptions through their creations. Using these symbols, Abrams studied Romantic critical theory and traced its break from the tradition of mimesis.

In Natural Supernaturalism Abrams identified Christian and biblical patterns in Romantic literature and effectively outlined his theory of the Romantic method of secularizing religious concepts. In addition, Abrams deemed the Romantic period "a decisive turn in Western thought" and followed its influence on twentieth-century literature.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 57-60.)