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By Paul Mariani

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Page vii CONTENTS Introduction 1 William Carlos Williams Reassembling the Dust: Notes on the Art of the Biographer 17 The Poem as Field of Action: Paterson 37 The Eighth Day of Creation: Rethinking Paterson 59 The Hard Core of Beauty 74 Williams and Stevens: Storming the Edifice 95 Gerard Manley Hopkins The New Aestheticism: A Reading of "Andromeda" 107 The Cry at the Heart of "The Wreck" 123 A Poetics of Unselfconsciousness 133 The Sound of Oneself Breathing 142 Page viii Post-World War II Poets Robert Penn Warren 153 Charles Tomlinson 171 Robert Creeley 184 John Montague 203 John Berryman 214 Robert Pack 226 Thomas Merton 245 Notes 253 Acknowledgments 267 Page 1 INTRODUCTION In retrospect, there is an unforced symmetry to this collection which I would not have expected when I consider the varied conditions under which these essays and essay-reviews were first written.

There is, for example, the field sociologist, the journalist, the historian, the psychoanalyst, the feminist, the Marxist, the theologian, the professor of literature, even the professional biographer. Each comes to biography with different attitudes about the field, different presuppo- Page 23 sitions, different purposes. In spite of which, it seems to me, we must still learn how to tell a good story if we are to tap the peculiar energies of the biography. And how are we to do that? I think one answer to that question, if I have learned anything from working on Williams, will depend on the specific contours as well as on the underlying myth that spurred someone on, and gave him or her a deep sense of self-definition.

If Hopkins had shown me a religious voice creatively countering the growing agnosticism and nihilism in the literature, philosophy, and politics of the past century, Williams provided for my time what Whitman had provided for the last century: an example of a poet engaged in a lifelong struggle to raise my worldAmericato the level of the epic. The Beats, especially Kerouac and Ginsberg, might conceivably have done this for me as well. " I was from Page 5 working-class stock, bluest of blue collar, obedient to the fathers, bent on entering, not leaving, mainstream America, at least as my family understood the values of upward mobility, none of us at that point having tasted the so-called good life.

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