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The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English (Oxford Companions) [Hardcover]

Ian Hamilton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £75.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

10 Feb 1994 Oxford Companions
This Companion is both an alphabetically arranged reference work and, in its sum, a history, a map of modern poetry in English. From the last decade of the century, it offers a survey of the terrain, from 1900 to the present, and from Britain and America to New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Trinidad, Zimbabwe - anywhere, if fact, where poets write in English. It charts the shift from `poetry' to `poetries' - from primarily British and American traditions to a rich diversity of younger poetic identities elsewhere. The only comprehensive work of its kind, it covers not just individuals - some 1,500 of them - but also magazines, movements, concepts, and critical terms.

Edited and introduced by Ian Hamilton, himself a notable poet, The Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English has the distinction of including among its contributors many other celebrated poet-critics, often in intriguing author/subject combinations. Encounter, for example, Seamus Heaney writing on Robert Lowell, Dan Jacobson on Thomas Hardy, Jon Stallworthy on Rupert Brooke, Carol Rumens on Edith Sitwell, Andrew Motion on Edward Thomas, and Anne Stevenson on Sylvia Plath. These and other writers offer lively and opinionated critical assessments as well as biographical and bibliographical information. And, as one soon discovers, twentieth-century poets have lived far from humdrum lives. Twenty-seven here had nervous breakdowns, nineteen served time in jail, fourteen died in battle, three were murdered, one executed. One played hockey for his country. There were fifteen suicides, and one poet who staged his own death only to reappear, still writing poetry, under a new name.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 622 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; First Edition edition (10 Feb 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198661479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198661474
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.6 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 229,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Companion ...

Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry'

Oxford Companion


This is an excellent reference book which no library, public or academic, large or small, should be without. Well written and intelligently put together it should have a long and useful life and definitely fills a gap in the current range of reference material on 20th-century poetry in English. There is nothing else in the field quite as comprehensive, as readable, as successful a combination of fact and analysis ... Its scope is wide ranging and fairly exhaustive ... He is to be congratulated, for despite the omissions and the quirky inclusions, he has done an excellent job. He is well qualified for an undertaking of this size and complexity ... For poets the (The Year in Reference)

Book Description

will be indispensable, for libraries invaluable, to the casual browser informative and to all endlessly fascinating.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an incomplete map 7 Oct 2009
I have used this valuable reference book many times over many years.
It is admirably inclusive and indeed most instructive at times.
The editor, Ian Hamilton, states that his acid test for inclusion is that a poet must be on the map. I can't argue with that. It is just and sensible.
Why then reject, say, Leonard Cohen who was an established writer of both poetry and fiction before he also became a singer song writer? Just how much of the map does one need to lay claim to before inclusion? Can Miller Williams, for example, claim a larger share of this map than Cohen?
Cohen's originality of tone and his themes (explored down the years in several collections) of mysticism and sexual love,of his jewish inheritance and the holocaust,of french canadian mythology must surely put him on any comprehensive map of poetry.
A flawed "Companion" then but very useful and enjoyable for all that.
High time, too, for a new edition which would include the many new voices to have emerged since publication fifteen years ago.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars A Reference Book You Need Not Own. 18 Nov 2012
By Paul Little - Published on Amazon.com
The description of this book does not clearly depict what it entails. There is no poetry in this book. It is not an anthology (though, at the outset of this one, the publisher -- the great house of Oxford -- does provide a very impressive list of their published anthologies, poetic works, and studies of specific poets, poetic eras, nationalities, etc.). There appear to be no in-depth comparisons of one work or writer with others, although you can get a sense of how poets may have associated with each other; e.g., how Ezra Pound was tied to and influential on people of his era (both effects being of great importance at the time and later). Instead, as stated in the description above, this text provides a long list of biographical statements about selected poets, schools of poetic style or motive, and a limited (but not unimportant) collection of concepts associated with them. The length of each item varies with regard to the reknown (fame) of its subject. Talent, glibness, and social status are important elsewhere, so why not here, too. But none of this means that you should own this book. It is, instead, a text meant mainly for the reference room of a library and, maybe, for the library of a graduate student who aims at becoming a teacher who will include it on the office shelf. But for most of us, this is a reference book that we would use in the library and which would help us track down clusters of poets and their perspectives (e.g., the poetic ideas and writers of World War I). Then, we could go to specific works and, just to say, one or more of Oxford's fine anthologoies on the topic. This is how reference books usually help in writing a paper or thesis, and this one can be useful for such tasks. So, this text is not like, for instance, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, which is a beautifully conceived and organized companion for almost anything on the subject (N.B., I am not associated with the school or anyone who helped write that book). Almost anyone who is interested in poetry will recognize the usefulness and enjoyment of that particular volume. You won't have a similar sentiment for the Oxford companion texts. Useful in specific ways? Yes. Fun to read? Not so much. Essential? Well, a good encyclopedia (and specific knowledge about what to look up in it) might be just as helpful. And you can find some of that (along with references for further study) on line. So, very likely, you don't need to own this book. Just go to the library to read and use it. If they don't have it, you can probably get them to order a copy through the inter-loan system. If your school emphasizes the importance of poets, poetry, and poetics, then you might suggest that your teachers make certain that there's a copy in the reference room.
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