"Celeste Goodridge's useful study of Marianne Moore's considerations of the achievements of her contemporaries …[is] valuable to historians of American letters, particularly those interested in subtle variations on critical commonplaces not only about Moore, but about Stevens, Pound, Williams, and Eliot. Through painstakingly and meticulously assessing Moore's critical essays and her private correspondence, Goodridge proposes a new evaluation of Moore's opinions, which she demonstrates have been misread, and implicitly suggests that Moore's perspectives provide alternative ways of reading the programs and alliances of the four greatest moderns. We also discover how carefully Moore protected the poets she chose to support, by masking her reservations in print."—American Literature
"Well-written and assured, but without ever being overly polemical, this book should mean that future readers will give the reviews and correspondences of Moore the close attention they demand. It certainly gives valuable weight to the arguments for a more elastic canon."—Journal of American Studies
"…this is a valuable and often illuminating study, a welcome addition to our understanding of High Modernism."—Bonnie Costello
The first book-length exploration of Marianne Moore's prose focuses on her private and public critical exchanges with Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and T.S. Eliot. Drawing on previously unpublished material from the Moore Archive—correspondence, notebooks, manuscript notes, and books—Celeste Goodridge establishes Moore's central role as both poet-critic and prose stylist, providing a new perspective for considering Moore in relation to her contemporaries.
With clarity and elegance, Goodridge shows that Moore's most compelling critical judgments can best be recovered by examining the relationship between her private disclosures and her public pronouncements; her aesthetic of "hints and disguises" reveals a tension between what she felt free to voice and what she chose to veil.
In writing about these four poets, Moore made her greatest contribution to modernist criticism. With unusual perspicacity, she anticipated and defined many of the critical debates which still surround these writers' projects. Furthermore, Moore's critical exchanges indicated that her deepest alliances were with Stevens and Pound and not, as most have argued, with Williams and Eliot.
A Note on the Text
1. “Breasting the mode”: Moore’s Place in High Modernism
2. “Aristocratic cipher”: Moore’s Reviews of Stevens
3. “Firm piloting of rebellious fluency”: Moore’s Reviews of Pound’s Cantos
4. “Poets are never of the world in which they live”: Moore’s Quarrel with Williams
5. “Combative sincerity” and “Studious constraint”: The Literary Exchanges of Moore and Eliot