True Friendship

Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell Under the Sign of Eliot and Pound

Christopher Ricks

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March 2, 2010
272 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300134292
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True Friendship looks closely at three outstanding poets of the past half-century—Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell—through the lens of their relation to their two predecessors in genius, T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. The critical attention then finds itself reciprocated, with Eliot and Pound being in their turn contemplated anew through the lenses of their successors. Hill, Hecht, and Lowell are among the most generously alert and discriminating readers, as is borne out not only by their critical prose but (best of all) by their acts of new creation, those poems of theirs that are thanks to Eliot and Pound.

“Opposition is true Friendship.” So William Blake believed, or at any rate hoped. Hill, Hecht, and Lowell demonstrate many kinds of friendship with Eliot and Pound: adversarial, artistic, personal. In their creative assent and dissent, the imaginative literary allusions—like other, wider forms of influence—are shown to constitute the most magnanimous of welcomes and of tributes.

Christopher Ricks is Warren Professor of the Humanities and Co-Director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University. Formerly professor of poetry at Oxford, he was President of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers from 2007 to 2008. He lives in Boston.

“Ricks [has a] calculating and discriminating eye.” — Library Journal

“Ricks is probably the greatest living scholar and editor of modern English-language poetry. . .a critic of unrivaled authority. His new book, True Friendship, consists of long essays on three late-twentieth-century poets. . .with particular attention to their literary debts to T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. And this means that Ricks can make use of what has long been his most important critical tool--his ability to detect allusions so impalpable that other readers might not recognize them or even, in some cases, acknowledge their existence.”--Adam Kirsch, The New York Review of Books

“Perceptive and scholarly, Ricks is also entertaining and personable, and never lets his obvious affection for his subjects cloud his judgment.” — Publishers Weekly

‘This is a fascinating, challenging, demanding, intently interior, almost forensic work…for those to whom poetry is more a way of life than a lifestyle, the real deal.’ — Gerald Dawe, Irish Times

'True Friendship, like all of Rick's books, is a book to be grateful for.' — Adam Phillips, London Review of Books

'True Friendship by Christopher Ricks will appeal to the serious student of poetry…The tone of the book is just what that of a good literary critic should be…The result of a lifetime's highly attentive and sensitive reading.' — Rt Revd Lord Harries, Church Times

"This is the pleasure of reading Christopher Hicks's True Friendship—the mysterious overlapping of influence—how a threesome of influence of Pound, Eliot and Danta becomes a foursome completed by Lowell who invokes Dante in Lowell's sonnets as in much of Eliot and Pound."—Harriet Zinnes, The Hollins Critic

"[Christopher Ricks] is, in every sense, an annotator of genius."--Paul Dean, The New Criterion

"A masterpiece of criticism."—Lawrence Joseph, Commonweal
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