Just as the look of the American landscape has changed since the nineteenth century, so has our idea of landscape. Here Bonnie Costello reads six twentieth-century American poets who have reflected and shaped this transformation and in the process renovated landscape by drawing new images from the natural world and creating new forms for imagining the earth and our relation to it.
A study that is...remarkable... for its detailed knowledge, lucidity of thought, and, quite often, for the sheer skill with which its author develops ingenious arguments and interpretations. Costello draws considerably on Bishop’s unpublished writings: her letters, journals, and manuscripts. These have been used occasionally before by other critics. But nobody has exploited the rich mine of material available in this unpublished work with the persistence, the sheer consistency of purpose and discovery, that Costello shows throughout... This is a book that adds significantly to our appreciation of a poet in whose work truth slips in. as it were, through the cold particularities of perception and then slips quietly away again.
A critic who has written about Bishop before, [Costello] does a wonderful and surprisingly intimate job arguing that Bishop is one in a line of poets, and other artists, who use their chosen media to negotiate the tension between a generally unsympathetic, recalcitrant world and their tumultuous inner lives.
Bonnie Costello’s Shifting Ground is an important intervention in debates about the literary use of landscape. Costello’s introduction provides a clear and clear-eyed negotiation of recent and current theories, and seeks to challenge what she calls ‘the dominant argument in the humanities over the past forty years,’ that ‘landscape is an exhausted, even an insidious genre.’ The chapters that follow are devoted to the work of Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Amy Clampitt, A. R. Ammons, and John Ashbery, and mix exposition and argument in dense and productive analyses.
- 240 pages
- 6-1/16 x 9-1/8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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