Commentary Magazine


Anthologizing

To the Editor:

The “strange little production” which David Bromwich does not deign to mention by name in his review of another anthology, The Voice That Is Great Within Us, edited by Hayden Carruth [Books in Review, February], is, I presume, Quest for Reality: An Anthology of Short Poems in English, selected by Yvor Winters and Kenneth Fields (Chicago, Swallow Press, 1969).

Mr. Bromwich says, “Specific choices had been authorized by the late Yvor Winters. . . . Donne appeared in a minor role compared to Winters himself.”

As the surviving editor specifically points out in his introduction, “Winters did not see fit to include his own poems because he had grown to dislike this common editorial practice.” The twelve that are included were selected by Mr. Fields—after Winters’s death—as he clearly states.

Professor Winters was not a modest man, and may well have valued his own poems more highly than those of Donne. However, in attributing this particular proportional selection to him, Mr. Bromwich is in error.

Turner Cassity
Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia
.

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David Bromwich writes:

I did not have the Winters book at hand when I wrote the review, and so could not check on the statement of editorial policy to which Turner Cassity refers. I accept the correction, of course, though it is rather weakened by the admission that Winters was never bound to underestimate his own work. Perhaps we may assume that in this case Winters’s point of view was taken over a bit too faithfully by his disciple. The exact proportion turns out to be three pages of Donne against fifteen of Winters; but that is hardly the only slip of its kind. The entire latter part of Quest for Reality is unfairly (and unrealistically) dominated by friends and relations of the eminent critic.

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