During a career that spanned sixty years, Cleanth Brooks was involved in most of the major controversies facing the humanities from the 1930s until his death in 1994. He was arguably the most important American literary critic of the mid-twentieth century. Because it is impossible to understand modern literary criticism apart from Cleanth Brooks, or Cleanth Brooks apart from modern literary criticism, Mark Royden Winchell gives us not only an account of one man's influence but also a survey of literary criticism in twentieth-century America. More than any other individual, Brooks helped steer literary study away from historical and philological scholarship by emphasizing the autonomy of the text. He applied the methods of what came to be called the New Criticism, not only to the modernist works for which these methods were created, but to the entire canon of English poetry, from John Donne to William Butler Yeats. In his many critical books, especially The Well Wrought Urn and the textbooks he edited with Robert Penn Warren and others, Brooks taught several generations of students how to read literature without prejudice or preconception.
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Published June 1, 1996
by University of Virginia Press.
History, Literature & Fiction.