By Barry Ahearn
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:1994
Online Publication Date:January 2012
Subjects: American literature
Many critics have noticed the paradoxes and contradictions in the work of William Carlos Williams but few have analyzed them in detail. Professor Ahearn argues that Williams criticism has not gone far enough in recognizing the uses Williams saw for contradiction. He contends that Williams began to acquire his own voice as a poet when he recognized that he could be a vehicle for contending voices. His reading departs from previous examinations of the early poetry in the emphasis it places on the poems as expressions of Williams' social position. We find a Williams whose contribution to modernism came not through a radical break with tradition or a rejection of inherited poetic norms alone, but rather in a cultivation of tension, conflict, and a kind of poetic "crisis" that could be held forth as the metier of the modernist writer.