A Thickness of Particulars: The Poetry of Anthony Hecht
By Jonathan F. S. Post
Jonathan Post’s A Thickness of Particulars is the first book-length study of Anthony Hecht, one of the major American poets of the second half of the twentieth century. A Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA and the editor of Hecht’s Selected Letters (John Hopkins University Press, 2013), Post has lectured extensively on the poet at Yale and UCLA. The depth of his scholarship on Hecht is evident throughout this monograph, which emphasizes the “habitually dialectical quality of Hecht’s thinking,” his passion for poetic form, and his ability to write in complicated rhyming schemes without sacrificing an easy conversational tone.
Alternating between close readings of the poems, wherein Hecht’s work is placed in conversation with poetic giants W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, and Elizabeth Bishop, and the poet’s private correspondence, Post provides a biographical context for understanding the complexity of Hecht’s impressive corpus. As the author points out, however, this is not biography per se, but rather a general introduction to Hecht’s poetry. In nine chapters arranged chronologically, Post’s narrative ranges from discussions of well-known individual poems to collections of early and late efforts, with additional chapters focusing on thematic angles such as the influence of Shakespeare and the poet’s ekphrastic verse.
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