Haphazard article but quite interesting.

    Engle’s life, at least for a while, exuded pure romance and adventure: a boyhood in a Midwestern city still redolent of the frontier; a father who trained horses; an adolescence during the heady years of American modernism; a coming-of-age at the beginning of the Depression; the receipt of laurels for his poetry by his early 20s; travels in Europe as a Rhodes scholar; the witnessing of Nazi rallies in Munich; celebrity back home for American Song, a collection of brawny, patriotic blank verse published in 1934 and touted on the front page of The New York Times Book Review by a conservative reviewer; his undignified, typically American, and only half-successful attempts to befriend Stephen Spender, Cecil Day-Lewis, and W.H. Auden at Oxford in the 1930s, when those poets were striking poses as exciting young Communists; his conversion to Communism; his adoption of the role of the strapping American vernacular savant in the face of English reticence and snobbery; passionate letters to his future wife back home; a honeymoon in Russia; a homecoming so much less exciting than the voyage out; an American lecture tour; a job teaching at his alma mater, the University of Iowa; the strangely anticlimactic war years, including an unsuccessful bid to serve in the Office of War Information; the panicked recantation of his Communist sympathies in the dawning days of the House Un-American Activities Committee; a marriage not long in its happiness; two daughters; the gradual assumption of the helm of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; the inexorable diminishment of his prospects as a poet; and the birth, in the iciest years of the Cold War, of an institutional vision that would transform American literature.



posted by flagamuffin: 1667 days ago