Cleanth Brooks has deeply influenced the course of letters and literature in America. As coauthor (with Robert Penn Warren) of ""Understanding poetry"", he has helped bring poems to life for many thousands of students. His subsequent studies, including ""Modern poetry and the tradition"" and ""The well-wrought urn"", have been praised by students and scholars like and have established him as a critic of stature. His ""Historical evidence"" indicates how sadly he has been misrepresented as a kind of ""formalist"" who has no concern for biography land history. This series of case studies examines the degree and extent to which some dozen particular 17th century poems deal with the history of the time out of which they came. With the exception of those by Andrew Marvell, they are the work of minor poets, such as Henry Ling, Richard Corbett, James Shirley, Richard Lovelace, Aurelian Townshend, Richard Fanshawe, and Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Yet the poems were not chosen merely in the interest of advancing an idea. They are highly interesting in themselves. What Brooks has done with each of these 17th century poets is what he's spent a lifetine doing - bringing their poems to life for a 20th century reader. This book responds to the terrible ills that have befallen our approach to literature. Without waving flags or hurling abuse at a real or imagined foe, Brooks makes it clear how important a knowledge of history and culture may be to the reader of literature. Brooks provides original readings of specific poems and poets. This book should interest students of 17th century poetry in particular and among appreciators of literature in general.
Cleanth Brooks is Gray Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, at Yale University. He is author and editor of many books, most recently, On the Prejudices, Predilections, and Firm Beliefs of William Faulkner.