13 nov. 2010

With Helen Vendler's scholarship I always have the feeling that she represents the triumph of mere competence. I'm pretty sure I could come up with better commentaries on Shakespeare's sonnets. She barely touches their prosody, and often misses points that to me are obvious. It' great that she exists and talks about relevant issues and great poets (and some mediocre ones of more recent years), but couldn't anyone do what she does, more or less? I can't quite put my finger on it. Is it the writing style, the insistence on details that just are not that significant? Is it my own ressentiment? I often think of her as worthwhile and try out her books, but then I give up on them after a while. I still like my Platonic ideal of Helen Vendler more than her actual writing.

This is apart from some of her lamentable lapses in taste. I wouldn't care if she liked the same poets I did in the contemporary period if she did justice to Keats and Shakespeare.

1 comentario:

Sarang dijo...

I found Vendler's book on Stevens (Words chosen...) very useful. Otherwise, would agree.