Summer/Fall 1997 • Vol. XIX No. 3/4 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1997 |

Scholarly Designs

Poetry and Criticism, 1940-1995 by Robert von Hallberg, Evan Carton, and Gerald Graff. Volume 8. The Cambridge History of American Literature. General editor Sacvan Bercovitch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 576 pages. $59.95.   When Keats wrote that "We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us," he was thinking of art with philosophical, programmatic or overtly didactic intent, in contrast to its alternative, something "great and unobtrusive." In today's academy, even to call something natural or unobtrusive, let alone unselfconscious, would open one to the charge of bad faith or idealogical naïveté. Moreover, our collective distrust of master narratives, hegemonic testimonies to a single vision, or overarching generalizations about an author, an issue, a period, or an even larger expanse has conditioned many professors to prefer a collective to a single enterprise. Quot homines, tot opiniones. The Cambridge History of American Literature has just

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Willard Spiegelman is the Hughes Professor of English at Southern Methodist University and the editor-in-chief of Southwest Review.

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By Willard Spiegelman

Poetry and Criticism, 1940-1995 by Robert von Hallberg, Evan Carton, and Gerald Graff. Volume 8. The Cambridge History of American Literature. General editor Sacvan Bercovitch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. […]

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