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Description - The Maximus Poems by Charles Olson

Praised by his contemporaries and emulated by his successors, Charles Olson (1910-1970) was declared by William Carlos Williams to be "a major poet with a sweep of understanding of the world, a feeling for other men that staggers me." This complete edition brings together the three volumes of Olson's long poem (originally published in 1960, 1968, and 1975) in an authoritative version.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780520055957
ISBN-10: 0520055950
Format: Paperback
(254mm x 178mm x 16mm)
Pages: 664
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 25-Jul-1985
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - The Maximus Poems by Charles Olson

US Kirkus Review » Olson's Maximus suite - rambling, blustery, meditative poems on the American past and present - often speaks best to the reader in the lyric sections. When Olson says, for instance, in "Maximus, to Himself," that "it is the undone business/ I speak of," or that "I had to learn the simplest things/ last," or "that we grow up many/ And the single/ is not easily/ known," he is encapsulating in fragmentary observations much of the emotional drive of his master plan. It is not only that the parts of Maximus are better than the whole, but also that the whole, taken as such, is continually eluding artistic definition, while the "incidental," even fortuitous aspects of Olson's congeries really give us the heart of the man. Olson, who died in 1970, had great underground reclame during the '50s for his "open" structure or "high-energy construct," a technique which both looked back to Pound and Williams and ahead to the Beats. Yet his myth of the Republic "in gloom at Watchhouse Point" is never as persuasive as Williams' similar effort in Patterson. Randall Jarrell says of the industrial swamp of Williams' northeastern New Jersey that "in these poems the Nature of the edge of the American city - the weeds, clouds, and children of vacant lots - and its reflection in the minds of its inhabitants exist for good." Olson, lacking Williams' blessed, pragmatic concreteness, was often given to blunt theorizing or fulminations against "the Big False Humanism." He was not the profound chronicler of the American adventure he took himself to be; he was, rather, a miniaturist of the populist spirit which is always veering toward some marine or pastoral solitude. Beneath his cantankerous persona there was a gentle soul. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Charles Olson

George F. Butterick had a long familiarity with Olson's writings. He studied with the poet at the State University of New York at Buffalo, prepared the definitive Guide to "The Maximus Poems" of Charles Olson, and served as Curator of Literary Archives at the University of Connecticut (Storrs), which houses Charles Olson's papers.

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