Robert Frost Summary

Harold Bloom

Robert Frost

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Robert Frost Summary

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Modern Critical Views: Robert Frost is a collection of literary analyses edited and with an introduction by American literary critic Harold Bloom.  A collection of literary critics and fellow writers elaborately examine Frost’s themes, stylistic choices, and several of his most famous works. It is part of a series entitled Modern Critical Views, which contains detailed analyses of many of the most famous American and British writers of all time. Exploring the common themes and motifs Frost used, with a critical eye on imagery, meter, and Frost’s relationship to the political and social environment of the time, Modern Critical Views: Robert Frost is considered one of the most exhaustive looks at Frost’s body of work and is still frequently used as a companion to readings of Frost’s writing in college classes.

Modern Critical Views: Robert Frost begins with an introduction by Harold Bloom, where he describes Frost as one of the great American poets of the twentieth century. He shares some of Frost’s most famous poems and looks at their imagery. Next, he looks at “Directive,” Frost’s meditation on all things coming around. Bloom looks at Frost’s work in the areas of friendship, religion, poetry, and art, and then passes the baton over to the talented group of literary critics whose analyses he shares in this volume. In chapter 1, Robert Pack examines Frost’s role as both teacher and preacher, looking at the ways Frost’s poems are most powerful when they are enigmatic and indirect. He describes Frost’s greatest talents as making nature speak with a human voice, and to make dramatic for the reader the mystery of divinity in ways humans can understand. Frost often uses a solitary human voice as his narrator, keeping the narrator ambiguous to represent anyone.

Frank Lentricchia explores Frost through the frame of the redemptive imagination. He looks at how Frost uses skepticism to his advantage, keeping an open mind and exploring all possibilities as opposed to subscribing to orthodoxy. Frost’s interpretation of the concept of redemption is portrayed as one of a secular rather than religious nature and is often found in nature and inner peace. Through nature and the past, Lentricchia shows how Frost often depicts people finding their truest selves in silence. Richard Poirier looks at Frost’s perspective on the nature of choices, particularly in two cases — those of the things we “greatly choose” directly, and those we “somehow choose” via all the simple decisions we make in life that lead us to this moment. Poirier explores the imagery Frost uses, most famously in his iconic poem “The Road Not Taken.”

Marie Borroff examines Frost’s simplicity, among his most acclaimed features. His poems are famously easier to process and parse than many of his contemporaries, using clear wording and imagery that invites the reader to reflect rather than interpret. Borroff looks at the way his works make the reader feel rather than think. Sydney Lea focuses his analysis not just on Frost’s work, but also on his relation to Wordsworth, who was a primary influence on Frost’s work. Lea looks at how their wordplay is similar and creates a building effect that is designed to pull the reader in as he or she reads. David Bromwich analyses Wordsworth, Frost, and Wallace Stevens and the way they approach the poetic vocation. Contrasting their use of wordplay, as well as the way they approached their lives as extensions of their poetry, Bromwich explores how the way they interacted with their community affected their poetry. In “The Counter-Intelligence of Robert Frost,” Herbert Marks looks at the way Frost explores the theme of truth and concealment in his work, contrasting what we see as real versus what actually is. He shows how Frost displays a deep ambivalence to the idea of an objective ideal and instead urges people to find their own truths. In “Echoing Eden: Frost and Origins,” Charles Berger examines how Frost seems less prone to create myths and more prone to look forward to universal truths. He explores the way Frost’s writing uses moral terms to describe acts of nature. The book ends with a full chronology of Frost’s life and career, followed by a biography of the contributors, and a bibliography, index, and acknowledgments.

Harold Bloom is an American literary critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. The author of more than forty books in a nearly sixty-year writing career, he has written twenty books of literary criticism, several books on religion, and a novel, The Flight to Lucifer. Bloom has also served as the editor on hundreds of anthologies concerning literary and philosophical figures published by the Chelsea House publishing firm. Heavily involved in the canon wars of the 1990s, he is considered one of the most influential literary critics in the United States today.