Sep 13, 2010
The Imagism of Early Winters
I have been reading and greatly enjoying Laureates and Heretics, the new book by Bob Archambeau, a student of one of Yvor Winters's last students in the mid-1960s (Archambeau now teaches at Lake Forest College in Illinois). In his chapter on Winters, as canon-heretic, Archambeau places a lot of emphasis on Winters's imagist poetry and poetic theories. Yet I don't quite see how Winters's imagist beginnings have much to do with his eventual attainment of the status of heretic, but I found the discussion tangentially insightful and helpful in a number of ways. Archambeau's main point, that Winters has been rejected from the canon because his mature poetic theories and practice were not consonant with the much more frequent practices and much more frequently espoused theories of the prominent poets and critics of his times (and are dissonant with our times as well) is enlightening, if, perhaps, rather obvious. In general, I have appreciated Archambeau's emphasis on literary canons and their making, though I think Archambeau makes a big mistake in not defining what a canon (or "the" canon) is -- or at least what he thinks it is or ought to be. I admit, though, his defintion of canon, which is crucial to the study of Yvor Winters and the whole matter of classicism (Archambeau calls it Augustanism) and so-called traditional verse in our times, might arise cumulatively in the course of the book. I might study parts of this book in more depth on this blog in the months to come.