A Mingled Yarn: The Life of R.P.Blackmur, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Mingled Yarn

The Life of R.P.Blackmur, 1st Edition

Edited by Russell Fraser


404 pages

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R. P. Blackmur was an American critic and poet, as well as a professor of English literature and creative writing at Princeton University. At the time of his death, he had completed five books and numerous plays, poems, and short stories. He devoted most of his life to studies on Henry Adams - someone he saw in himself. In his lifetime, he received a share of adulation, but he was not successful in the way that success is commonly measured. In this work, Russell Fraser follows the course of Blackmur's self-declared failed genius. He tells the story of his precocious youth in Cambridge; his eclectic education; his years of poverty and renown as a poet, novelist, freelance music critic, and essayist; his obsessive marriage to artist Helen Dickson; his entangled friendships with T. S. Eliot, Delmore Schwartz, Allen Tate, and John Berryman; and, his passion for the wilds of Maine. He discusses Blackmur's crucial role in the literary magazines of the twenties and thirties; his unique influence as instructor of creative writing; the emotional and professional price he paid for a doubtful security at Princeton University; and, the torment of wavering between intellectual inertia and prolific inspiration. With empathy and insight, Fraser shows how the trajectory of Blackmur's career parallels the movements in the American literary scene; the experiments in poetry and fiction; the development of the New Criticism; the writer's conflict between order and anarchy, taxonomy and the full response; and, the emergence of the critic as artist. A biography, intellectual history, and literary criticism, "A Mingled Yarn" unravels Blackmur's complex character and celebrates his great achievement.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
1. Past and Present
2. Breaking Out
3. Good and Evil in the One Lump
4. The Witnessing Art—Blackmur at Poetry
5. A Failure Worth Making—The Life of Henry Adams
6. Diabolus in the Scale—Blackmur at Fiction
7. The Pedagogue of Sensibility
8. A Lion in the Path
9. Through the Ashes of His Chance
10. The Critic as Artist

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General