The Moderns: An Anthology of New Writing in America edited by LeRoi Jones

1960s: Days of Rage

“An anthology called The Moderns had better, one thinks, be good. If it isn’t, it will be difficult for it to avoid appearing pretentious, which, I am afraid, is how Mr. Jones’s collection strikes me. His Introduction does not help me to feel otherwise. It has its perceptive moments, but on the whole it is too arcane for my understanding; and I wish he could have spelt out his assumptions and his principles of selection more simply and with expanded references. What he means by ‘modern’ seems clear enough: The possibility of a ‘new American poetry’ meant, of course, that there was equally to be sought out, a new or fresher American prose. The concerns that made the poetry seem so new were merely that the writers who were identified with this recent poetic renaissance were continuing the tradition of twentieth century modernism that had been initiated in the early…

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