Spring 1961 • Vol. XXIII No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1961 |

Frost’s Momentary Stay

The stir caused by Mr. Lionel Trilling's by now notorious speech at Robert Frost's eighty-fifth birthday dinner is surely an effect, not a cause, of our recent concern to resolve the problem that Frost's poetry poses for us. Reading J. Donald Adams' diatribe on the Trilling speech—issued from the ambush of his Times Book Review easy chair—reading this, one realized (rather wearily) that Mr. Adams just didn't want to yield Frost up to "modern criticism." The grounds were that Frost himself wouldn't want to do so, that he couldn't do so; and the letters which poured into the Times turned out to be not pro-Frost, but pro-Adams, therefore anti-Trilling, therefore anti-"modern." Yet modern criticism has taken over; and the cries of the anguished were those of Ordinary Readers so insecure in their ordinariness as to have no weapon against modernism except cries of anguish. Indeed, modern criticism had taken over long before Mr. Trilling announced that, even as Margaret Fuller acce

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Frost

By Roy Harvey Pearce

The stir caused by Mr. Lionel Trilling's by now notorious speech at Robert Frost's eighty-fifth birthday dinner is surely an effect, not a cause, of our recent concern to resolve […]

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