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Stephen Vincent Benét
Essays on His Life and Work

Edited by David Garrett Izzo and Lincoln Konkle
Published in early 2002 by McFarland Publishing www.mcfarlandpub.com or http://www.amazon.com

When Stephen Vincent Benét died in 1943 at the age of 44, all of America mourned the loss. Benét was one of the country’s most well known poets of the first half of the twentieth century and as a fiction writer, he had an even larger audience.

This book is a collection of essays celebrating Benét and his writing. The first group of essays addresses Benét’s life, times, and personal relationships. Thomas Carr Benét reminisces about his father in the first essay, and others consider Benét’s marriage to his wife Rosemary; Archibald MacLeish, Thornton Wilder and Benét as friends, liberal humanists and public activists; and his friendships with Philip Barry, Jed Harris, and Thornton Wilder.
The second group contains essays about Benét’s poetry, fiction, and drama. They discuss Benét’s role in the development of historical poetry in America, John Brown’s Body and the Civil War, Hawthorne, Benét and historical fiction, Benét’s Faustian America, the adaptation of “The Devil and Daniel Webster” to drama and then to film, Benét’s use of fantasy and science fiction, and Benét as a dramatist for stage, screen and radio.

This volume of 11 pro-Benet essays successfully covers all aspects of his life: Benet as member of a Yale Group that also included Thornton Wilder, Philip Barry, Archibald MacLeish, and Jed Harris (who later made a career on Broadway); as husband to Rosemary Carr (who later acted as his collaborator); and as father to Thomas (who later edited the San Francisco Examiner).... Perhaps Benet has lost favor with the reading public because of his irrepressible optimism, his faith that, in spite of horrible setbacks, humanity is making progress.
If we can ever recapture that faith in ourselves and our country, Benet's writings will be waiting.
Charles Nash, Library Journal

Izzo and Konkle have put together a nice collection of 11 essays, four on Benet's life and seven on his work. Despite having died at 45, Benet achieved popular acclaim for his long poem John Brown's Body (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1930), his story "The Devil and Daniel Webster," and other works. He was also the first editor of the "Yale Younger Poets" series. In recent years, Benet has been decanonized, and Izzo and Konkle want readers to rethink Benet's place in literary history. The Benet who emerges in this collection is highly conscious of the US's past, specifically its Civil War, and contemplates the US's role in the world in the 1930s and 1940s. In this regard, he deserves attention, given his long poem, as an American modernist alongside Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. And yet Benet's popular appeal in his own time separates him from his expatriate contemporaries. If the purpose of literary criticism is to encourage a renewed interest in primary works, this collection succeeds. Although little of Benet's work remains in print, readers should be thankful for the dusty corners of libraries. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
R. T. Prus, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Choice

Thornton Wilder: New Essays
Edited by Izzo, Martin Blank, Dalma Hunyadi Brunauer
Published in 1999 by Locust Hill Press
locusthill@snet.net or http://www.amazon.com

Reviewed by J.J. Bernadette, Choice
“This group of 27 original essays, occasioned by the 1997-98 centennial of Wilder’s birth, confirms the paradox of his reputation. Critically acclaimed in his own time (“the only American to win Pulitzer Prizes for both drama … and fiction”) and enduringly popular with some audiences (Our Town “is performed more often than any other American play”)…. Overall this collections seeks to demonstrate that Wilder’s works, both his novels and plays, are more problematic—less simplistic and optimistic—than is sometimes suggested. These essays focus on his wide-ranging erudition, his interest in the long tradition of Western European drama, his implementation of minimalist techniques (derived from German expressionism and Japanese Noh plays), and his reinterpretation of mythic themes. As a modernist and contemporary of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis, Wilder reappears as an individualist and innovator who traced his own path and yet responded to the injunction to “make it new.”

Advocates and Activists Between the Wars
Published in early 2003 by Locust Hill Press
locusthill@snet.net or http://www.amazon.com
David Garrett Izzo, editor and contributor*

Advocates and Activists....
This superb work of scholarship features individually authored biographical essays about 35 people who were witnesses to one of the most turbulent and important times in recorded history and who changed the world in profound ways. All but two are Americans. The biographies have been organized into seven categories: "Labor, Social, and Political Activists" (e.g., Margaret Sanger, William Z. Foster); "Educators, Philosophers, Cultural Theorists and Critics" (e.g., V.F. Calverton, Joel E. Spingarn); "Stage and Film Professionals" (e.g., D.W. Griffith, Orson Welles); "Artists" (e.g., Thomas Hart Benton, Aaron Douglas); "African-American Advocates and Activists" (e.g., Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, Alain Locke); "Writers and Poets" (e.g., Jack Conroy, Meridel Le Sueur); and "Journalists" (e.g., Albert J. Nock, George Seldes). Concluding each essay is a bibliography of both primary and secondary sources. While each essay emphasizes the people themselves, taken as a whole this fine book also illuminates the entire world-changing period between World War I and World War II, reflecting how these individuals both influenced and were infuenced by it. The focus, scope, and scholarship of this book make it worthy of inclusion in academic and public collections alike.--G. Douglas Meyers (from American Reference Books Annual)


Review from Choice:
The period 1919-1941 was one of significant social adjustment as the US shifted from an agrarian to a fully industrialized society. Izzo has assembled a collection of well-written and thoughtful biographical essays on the activists who influenced American society during this period and who brought about change in widely varied fields--art, philosophy, literature, education, motion pictures, theater, labor and political activism, journalism. Some are well known and have been written about extensively (e.g., Orson Welles, Margaret Sanger), while others are lesser known (Joseph Freeman, Marya Zaturenska), hence not easily found elsewhere. In all cases, these activists devoted their lives to affecting change, were passionate about their work, and were influential in the direction of change in Americaduring these years. Researchers will appreciate the bibliographies, whichidentify the activists' books, articles, pamphlets, and other originalworks, the libraries holding unpublished papers, and secondary sources. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --C.W. Bruns, California State University-Fullerton


All of the subjects in Activists and Activists Between the Wars represent an era, 1919-1941, that became the most world changing in history and thus influenced the rest of the twentieth century. Some of the subjects began to be movers and shakers before the year 1919 and some continued to be long after 1941. Many subjects overlap the years 1919-1941, but all of the subjects were active during those years and contributed to the overall prevailing attitude that linked these subjects together: a need for change. Clarence Darrow will open the volume and while most of his career preceded 1919, his role as a defender of labor carried over to inspire others. Moreover, Darrow's most famous case was the Scopes trial, which took place early in the period here emphasized. Orson Welles closes Volume II and most of his career occurred after 1941; yet, his innovative work with the Mercury Theater and the landmark film Citizen Kane close the era.

W.H. Auden: A Legacy
A collection of twenty-six essays on Auden covering his life and art.

Published in 2002 by Locust Hill Press
locusthill@snet.net or http://www.amazon.com

Reviewed in Choice:
A poet's reputation, like the stock market, tends to be unstable. Since Auden's death in 1973, his reputation has gone from a facile poet whose best work was done in the 1930s to--as Izzo says--"the first or second most important twentieth-century poet in English." In this volume of essays, observations, and insights ... Auden's legacy is examined in ways both academic and popular. The academic pieces ... prove most useful.... the nonacademic pieces are both interesting and enlightening. This is a book for young poets to read, as well as those interested in 2Oth-century literature.
D.A. Barton

Aldous Huxley and W. H. Auden
On Language
Published in 1998 by Locust Hill Press

locusthill@snet.net or http://www.amazon.com

An examination of Huxley and Auden as essayists/philosophers

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