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Paper Trail: Selected Prose, 1965-2003 (Hardcover)

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Richard Howard has been writing stylish, deeply informed commentary on modern culture and literature for more than four decades. Here is a selection of his finest essays, including some never before published in book form, on a splendid range of subjects--from American poets like Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore to French artists such as Rodin and Michel Delacroix. Also included are considerations of modern sculpture and of the photography of the human body. Howard's intense familiarity with modern poetry is seen to excellent effect in essays on the "poetry of forgetting," on the causes and effects of experimental poetry, and on the first books of poets whose work he helped introduce--among them, J. D. McClatchy, Frank Bidart, and Cynthia MacDonald. Of course, Howard brings to his consideration of French literature a rare wisdom drawn from his celebrated work as a translator of Stendhal and Gide, Barthes and Cocteau, Yourcenar and Gracq.

Hilton Kramer once wrote that Richard Howard "performs the essential critical service. He shows us the extent of the terrain. He points out its essential features. And he gives us a very vivid sense of its ethos as well as of its esthetics." Howard, now in his seventy-fifth year, continues his adroit, inventive commentary, which enriches us all.
Richard Howard is a poet, scholar, teacher, critic, and translator. The author of more than a dozen books, including Inner Voices: Selected Poems, 1963-2003, he is the recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award for translation. He teaches at Columbia University and is poetry editor of The Paris Review.
Richard Howard has been writing stylish, deeply informed commentary on modern culture and literature for more than four decades. His earlier work Alone with America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States Since 1950 has long been hailed as a landmark in literary criticism. Paper Trail is a selection of his finest essays, including some never before published in book form, on a splendid range of subjects—from American poets such as Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore to French artists such as Rodin and Michel Delacroix. Also included are considerations of modern sculpture and of the photography of the human body.

Howard's intense familiarity with modern poetry is seen to excellent effect in essays on "the poetry of forgetting," on the cause and effects of experimental poetry, and on the first books of poets whose work he helped introduced. Of course, Howard brings to his consideration of French literature a rare wisdom drawn from his celebrated work as a translator of Stendhal and Gide, Barthes and Cocteau, Yourcenar an Gracq.

Hilton Kramer once wrote that Richard Howard "performs the essential critical service. He shows us the extent of the terrain. He points out its essential features. And he gives us a very vivid sense of its ethos as well as of its esthetics." Howard, now in his seventy-fifth year, continues his adroit, inventive commentary, which enriches us all.
"If Richard Howard were not a poet at all, he would stand out nevertheless as a translator, an editor, a teacher of poets, and a critic of French, English, and American literature. Paper Trail collects his arrestingly elaborate essays on all three, as well as Howard's writings on visual art . . . The essays in Paper Trail offer language at least as intricate as that of Howard's verse, and information in even greater abundance: They can teach what the poems assume we know. Howard's preference for mannered abstractions, which can hinder the poems, assists the essays, making them more ambitious, and more daring, than most; even when their particular judgments do not convince, their general propositions enlighten."—Stephen Burt, The Washington Post Book World "While the essays range from Emily Dickinson to Robert Mapplethorpe to Claude Simon, they constitute an intimate autobiography . . . Paper Trail is something much larger than an argument about the shape of American poetry."—James Longenbach, Boston Review "[Howard is] a formidable man of letters: a brilliant poet, pioneering translator, revered champion of emerging poets, and learned, far-ranging critic. In this dazzling essay collection, a true landmark volume, Howard exemplifies the benefits of the life of the mind, which for him is a veritable fountain of youth. Over the course of nearly four decades, he has never lost the intellectual vivaciousness of his earlier works even as experience and growing knowledge have deepened his perspective. Howard writes with equal zest and insight about the minutiae of grammar and the grandness of worldviews, the eccentricities of writers and the great sweep of literature . . . Drolly witty, discerning, and wielding a vocabulary and syntax to die for, Howard makes each of his chosen subjects worthy of the reader's most avid attention."—Donna Seaman, Booklist "Well-crafted essays, forewords, and afterwords on poets and poetry by the critic, translator, editor, and poet . . . The collection opens with a sparkling essay, from 1973, on Emily Dickinson, who was just then being rediscovered and needed her champions in a rhymeless time. Howard's consideration is highly illuminating, and it well illustrates his magpie technique of turning up glittering oddments . . . Elsewhere the noted translator of Baudelaire and other French writers turns his attention to Francophone literature, and especially on writers who are not much read today, such as Marguerite Yourcenar, Claude Simon, and even the irreplaceable Stendhal. These admiring pieces . . . ought to awaken interest in those writers, which would be a grand service to them. Elsewhere still Howard praises then-new poets such as J. D. McClatchy, the writings of Brassaïoch, the power of storytelling, and kindred matters, giving variety to an altogether satisfactory collection. [The book will be] of interest to Howard's admirers and students."—Kirkus Reviews

Praise For…


"Howard, with a text, is like the boyfriend everyone wants: he sees you for who you really are, and still loves you. His sympathy, like his culture, is immense. At the same time, because of his Stradivarian attunement to language (no surprise in a distinguished poet and translator), he sees what is actually there, the words, and from them alone extracts the meaning. His own use of language is an added gift: high, mandarin, but with pauses and dashes and side thoughts--the movements of a happy mind." --Joan Acocella, author of Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism

Praise for Richard Howard's Prose:

"[Howard brings] a vocabulary of praise far larger, less inhibited, and more illuminating than any we have had from a critic of contemporary poetry."--Hilton Kramer, The New Republic

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374258856
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: October 7th, 2004
Pages: 448