Reevaluation of the Works of American Writer Delmore Schwartz, 1913-1966

Author: Ford, Edward
Year:2005
Pages:188
ISBN:0-7734-6150-7
978-0-7734-6150-5
Price:159.95
This book seeks to revive the career of an all but forgotten poet through close readings of all his major works. Its tone is deliberately enthusiastic because it seeks to serve as an antidote to the harsh criticism that the work has been subjected to over the years. The examination of Delmore’s later poetry is particularly important because it disproves the myth that he lost his talent when he became mentally ill. Delmore’s writing evolved from highly praised T.S. Eliot-style poems to wonderfully musical symphonies of sound so that by the end of his life he had truly created a unique style which he liked to term “Delmorean”. Delmore’s seminal short story “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” as well as the lon poems “Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon Along the Seine”. “All Night, All Night”, and “Twilight Like Intuition Pierced the Twelve” are walked through paragraph by paragraph to reveal the poet’s subtle meanings and deft artistry. It is hoped that this book will spark new interest in this major voice of the twentieth century.

Reviews

“In the history of American poetry, one finds brief mention of Schwartz in the cracks and crevices of his contemporaries. Yet he knew most of the major poets of his time, and his work was highly respected by them. The critics are another story, and here is where Ed Ford’s paean to Schwartz serves the reader so well. Ford’s book is an intended celebration of Schwartz’s poems and stories. Ford, who has thoroughly tapped into Schwartz’s “super-charged existence”, as he so aptly labels it, takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the poet’s oeuvre, stopping along the way to draw attention to ideas and attitudes of Schwartz the man as well as Schwartz the artist … Ford’s commentary ranges from Schwartz’s well-known work to his seldom discussed writings. Ford’s analysis of Schwartz reopens the door to his published work, showing the poet’s humanity and complexity as “a man of his time” … Ultimately, Ford offers the reader a detailed profile of the brilliant mind of a poet who, though troubled, has much to tell us about the human condition and how we live. In doing so, Ford has accomplished a valuable task for us – to demonstrate that Schwartz’s “life and work are a testimony to the redeeming power of literature.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Dr. David Cappella, Central Connecticut State University

“In this comprehensive study, Ford makes reference to virtually all of Delmore’s prose works and poems. He gives particular attention to certain poems like “All Night, All Night” and to “Twilight like Institutions”, both of which he includes in their entirety. Ford also provides a detailed assessment of the entire text of Delmore’s magnum opus “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”, a story about his parents’ countship which, we learn at the end, was all a dream … With great sensitivity and attention to Delmore’s poetic language, Ford’s critical analyses reveal a great deal of creativity on his part as a writer and he even manages to intersperse many does of humor which keep the reader amused, but at the same time, we are never distracted from the serious work at hand … There are other topics as well which Ford addresses which help to complete the picture of the man and his work. He addresses Delmore’s repressed homosexuality and of how Delmore was able to cope with his fear of same sex affinity by turning his feelings into beautiful art. He probes Delmore’s interest in Christianity and examines Christian themes in his works, something we would not expect to find in the writings of a Jewish author. Ford also examines Delmore’s confrontations with his inevitable death, the power of which Delmore seems to deny in the poem “The Sequel”. Ford unearths themes of a more universal nature, as well as, such as love, forgiveness and the inability to escape our past. And underlining it all, is of course, Delmore’s battles with mental illness … Ford gives to us the complete story: the factual biography, the inner workings of the tormented mind, careful critical analysis of the writings (both major and minor), and myriad references to authors who influenced Delmore … With skill and creativity, verve and insight, and yes, with a passion he makes no attempt to hide, Ford realizes his goal of introducing us to the life and work of this often misunderstood genius and of inviting us to take his achievement to heart.” – Lewis Overaker, Chairman of the Foreign Languages Department, Holderness School

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
1. A Rampant Mind
2. The Man Behind the Legend
3. “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”
4. “Coriolanus and His Mother” and “Dr. Bergen’s Belief”
5. “The Repetitive Heart” and “Twenty-Four Poems”
6. A Season in Hell and Shenandoah
7. Genesis: Book I
8. The World is a Wedding
9. Vaudeville For a Princess
10. Summer Knowledge
11. “Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon along the Seine”
12. Successful Love and Other Stories
13. In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories and The Ego is Always at the Wheel
14. Last and Lost Poems
15. Criticism, Journal, Letters
16. Conclusion
Works Cited
Index