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Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry

Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry

Douglas Bush

ISBN 9780674598256

Publication date: 01/01/1969

This volume, originally published in 1937, is reissued with a new preface and a few small corrections. A brilliant study of the continuing and changing uses of classical mythology in English poetry, it treats most of the major and many of the minor English poets since 1680 and includes a chapter on the use of myth in American verse. It provides an illuminating overview of English poetry since the end of the Renaissance.

In his Preface to the new printing, Bush briefly surveys the various approaches to classical myth over the centuries. "During the last two generations," he observes, "most of the leading British and American poets (not to mention Rilke and others) have renewed the mythic or mythological tradition with fresh power. Thus, in spite of the accumulated pressures and threats of our time, the vitality and the necessity of myth remain." He also reminisces engagingly about the writing of the book and acknowledges that after three decades he does not find a great deal in it that he would wish to change.


  • It is not only the great body of material included in the book that makes it so remarkable. It is the masterly gifts of fresh, lucid, and illuminating analysis of great figures, the firm comments which tie together whole dozens and decades of writers, the vivid thumbnail portraits of the living men who wrote living poetry, the humor, the candor, and the gift of phrasing which make the book delightful to read… This is indeed what John Livingston Lowes calls ‘creative scholarship.’

    —Atlantic Monthly

Book Details

  • 647 pages
  • Harvard University Press