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Robert Frost in Context
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This new critical volume offers a fresh, multifaceted assessment of Robert Frost's life and works. Nearly every aspect of the poet's career is treated: his interest in poetics and style; his role as a public figure; his deep fascination with science, psychology, and education; his peculiar and difficult relation to religion; his investments, as thinker and writer, in politics and war; the way he dealt with problems of mental illness that beset his sister and two of his children; and, finally, the complex geo-political contexts that inform some of his best poetry. Contributors include a number of influential scholars of Frost, but also such distinguished poets as Paul Muldoon, Dana Gioia, Mark Scott, and Jay Parini. Essays eschew jargon and employ highly readable prose, offering scholars, students, and general readers of Frost a broadly accessible reference and guide.

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Page 1 of 2

  • Chapter 1 - The Fate of the Frost Speaker
    pp 3-13

Page 1 of 2

Further Reading

Following is a list of books and essays for further reading. Within each section the arrangement is alphabetical, by author. I make an exception for books and essays devoted to the biographical record, a matter attended by considerable controversy; here, items are listed chronologically. I should note that The Robert Frost Review (sponsored by the Robert Frost Society, an Allied Organization of the Modern Language Association) is the only journal devoted entirely to the work of the poet; it appears annually.

Primary Resources and Works of Reference

Anderson, Margaret Bartlett. Robert Frost and John Bartlett: The Record of a Friendship. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.
Barry, Elaine. Robert Frost on Writing. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1973. A collection of talks, essays, interviews, and letters bearing on the art of writing.
Cook, Reginald. Robert Frost: A Living Voice. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1974. An edition, with extensive commentary, of a series of talks the poet delivered at the Bread Loaf School of English.
Crane, Joan St. C.Robert Frost: A Descriptive Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts in the Clifton Waller Barrett Library, University of Virginia. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1974. Richly annotated catalog of one of the most important collections of Frost’s books and literary manuscripts.
Evans, William R., ed. Robert Frost and Sidney Cox: Forty Years of Friendship. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1981.
Frost, Robert. Collected Poems, Prose and Plays. Richard Poirier and Mark Richardson, eds. New York: Library of America, 1995.
Frost, RobertCollected Prose of Robert Frost. Mark Richardson, ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007. With notes on Frost’s habits of composition, on textual problems, and with numerous extracts from otherwise unpublished talks and lectures.
Frost, RobertThe Notebooks of Robert Frost. Robert Faggen, ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. Paperback edition issued in 2009. The first edition of its kind.
Frost, RobertThe Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged. Edward Connery Lathem, ed. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1969. Valuable for the collation of variant readings offered in the notes to the volume.
Grade, Arnold, ed. The Family Letters of Robert and Elinor Frost. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1972.
Latham, Edward Connery. Concordance to the Poetry of Robert Frost. New York: Holt Information Systems, 1971.
Latham, Edward Connery, ed. Interviews With Robert Frost. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966. Spans the whole of the Frost’s career as a published poet in America, from 1915 to 1962.
Latham, Edward Connery, ed. Robert Frost Speaking on Campus: Excerpts from His Talks 1949–1962. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009. Excerpts from forty-six talks, delivered during the last thirteen years of the poet’s life.
Mertins, Louis. Robert Frost: Life and Talks-Walking. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965. A report of conversations with the poet.
Sheehy, Donald G. “‘To Otto as of Old’: The Letters of Robert Frost and Otto Manthey-Zorn. Part 1.” New England Quarterly 67.3 (September 1994): 355–402. Together with the item listed next, an impeccably edited and annotated body of letters from the poet to a friend and colleague at Amherst College.
Sheehy, Donald G “‘To Otto as of Old’: The Letters of Robert Frost and Otto Manthey-Zorn. Part 2.” New England Quarterly 67.4 (December 1994): 567–602.
Sheehy, Donald G., general ed. Robert Frost: Poems, Life, Legacy (interactive multimedia). Producer-director, Joe Mattazoni. New York: Henry Holt, 1997. Includes (in addition to much else) photographs, audio clips drawn from recordings of Frost’s readings and lectures, and video footage.
Sheehy, Donald, Mark Richardson, and Robert Faggen, eds. The Letters of Robert Frost: 1886–1920. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. The first of four volumes, which will include hundreds of previously unpublished letters.
Stanlis, Peter. “Acceptable in Heaven’s Sight: Robert Frost at Bread Loaf.” In Robert Frost: Centennial Essays III. Ed. Jac Tharpe. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1978. A valuable record of conversations between the poet and Peter Stanlis, chiefly dating from the latter’s time as a student at Middlebury College.
Thompson, Lawrance. The Selected Letters of Robert Frost. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964.
Thornton, Richard. Recognition of Robert Frost: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary. New York: Henry Holt, 1937.
Tuten, Nancy and John Zubizarreta, eds. The Robert Frost Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.
Untermeyer, Louis. The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.
Wagner, Linda, ed. Robert Frost: The Critical Reception. New York: Burt Franklin, 1977.

The Biographical Record

Lowell, Amy. Tendencies in Modern Poetry. New York: Macmillan, 1917. With a chapter devoted to Frost, partly critical, partly biographical.
Munson, Gorham B.Robert Frost: A Study in Sensibility and Good Sense. New York: George H. Doran, 1927. An early critical biography.
Cox, Sidney. A Swinger of Birches: A Portrait of Robert Frost. Introduction by Robert Frost. New York: New York University Press, 1957. By a long-time friend and correspondent of the poet. Notable for the note of skepticism about the book sounded in Frost’s own introduction.
Sergeant, Elizabeth Shepley. Robert Frost: The Trial by Existence. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960.
Adams, Frederick B.To Russia With Frost. Boston: Club of Odd Volumes, 1963. Adams, Director of the Morgan Library in New York, accompanied Frost to the USSR in 1962 and left this account.
Reeve, Franklin D.Robert Frost in Russia. Boston: Little Brown, 1964. Reissued in 2001, with a retrospective, by Zephyr Press. Reeve accompanied Frost, as interpreter, during the poet’s trip to the USSR in August–September 1962.
Thompson, Lawrance. Robert Frost: The Early Years: 1874–1915. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.
Thompson, LawranceRobert Frost: The Years of Triumph: 1915–1938. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.
Morrison, Kathleen. Robert Frost: A Pictorial Chronicle. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974. A memoir by the woman who served as Frost’s secretary and manager from 1938 until his death. Their relationship has occasioned considerable controversy, for an account of which see Donald Sheehy, “(Re)Figuring Love: Robert Frost in Crisis, 1938–1942” (listed in the Major Studies section).
Newdick, Robert. Newdick’s Season of Frost: An Interrupted Biography of Robert Frost. Ed. William A. Sutton. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1976. Though only published in 1976, this unfinished biography of the poet (cut short by its author’s death in 1939) dates from the mid- to late 1930s, of which period in Frost’s life it is a valuable portrait. With a foreword by the poet’s daughter, Lesley Frost.
Thompson, Lawrance and R. H. Winnick. Robert Frost: The Later Years: 1938–1963. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976.
Pritchard, William, Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984. A second edition, with a new preface, was issued in 1993 by the University of Massachusetts Press.
Burnshaw, Stanley. Robert Frost Himself. New York: George Braziller, 1986. Burnshaw was the poet’s editor at Holt from 1958 until 1963. The book is notable, among other things, for its spirited response to Thompson, for which see chapter four, “The Fabrication of the ‘Monster Myth.’”
Sheehy, Donald. “The Poet as Neurotic: The Official Biography of Robert Frost.” American Literature 58.3 (October 1986): 393–410. An astute reassessment of Thompson’s three-volume biography.
Walsh, John Evangelist. Into My Own: The English Years of Robert Frost. New York: Grove Press, 1988. The best book devoted to the poet’s time in England (1912–1915), where he published his first two books.
Katz, Sandra. Elinor Frost: A Poet’s Wife. Westfield: Institute for Massachusetts Studies, 1988. The only book devoted to Elinor Miriam White Frost.
Francis, Lesley Lee. The Frost Family’s Adventure in Poetry: Sheer Morning Gladness at the Brim. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1994. Authored by the poet’s granddaughter, this is the most thorough treatment of the so-called Derry years (1900–1911), though its scope is considerably broader. Issued in a second, revised edition under the title Robert Frost: An Adventure in Poetry, 1900–1918 (Transaction Publishers, 2004).
Meyers, Jeffrey. Robert Frost: A Biography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996). Revisionist and controversial, particularly with regard to Frost’s relationship to his longtime secretary Kathleen Morrison.
Parini, Jay. Robert Frost: A Life. New York: Henry Holt, 1999. Perhaps the most balanced treatment we have of the poet’s life. With an afterword surveying controversies in Frost biography.
Spencer, Matthew, ed. Elected Friends: Robert Frost and Edward Thomas to One Another. New York: Other Press, 2004. A record of the correspondence (and the friendship) of Frost and Edward Thomas.

Collections of Essays about Frost

Bloom, Harold, ed. Robert Frost. New York: Chelsea House, 2011. In the Bloom’s Modern Critical Views series.
Brodsky, Joseph, Seamus Heaney, and Derek Walcott. Homage to Robert Frost. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1997. Three extended essays on the poet.
Cox, James M., ed. Robert Frost: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962.
Faggen, Robert, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Robert Frost. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Gerber, Philip L., ed. Critical Essays on Robert Frost. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1982.
Tharpe, Jac, ed. Frost Centennial Essays. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1974. First of a landmark three-volume series.
Tharpe, Jac, ed. Frost Centennial Essays II. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1976.
Tharpe, Jac, ed. Frost Centennial Essays III. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1978.
Wilcox, Earl and Jonathan Barron, eds. Roads Not Taken: Rereading Robert Frost. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 2000.

Major Studies of The Poet

Brower, Reuben A.The Poetry of Robert Frost: Constellations of Intention. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.
Buxton, Rachel. Robert Frost and Northern Irish Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Cook, Reginald. The Dimensions of Robert Frost. New York: Rinehart, 1958.
Cramer, Jeffrey. Robert Frost among His Poems: A Literary Companion to the Poet’s Own Biographical Contexts and Associations. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2007.
Faggen, Robert. Robert Frost and the Challenge of Darwin. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.
Hass, Robert Bernard. Going by Contraries: Robert Frost’s Conflict with Science. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002.
Hoffman, Tyler. Robert Frost and the Politics of Poetry. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2001.
Jarrell, Randall. Poetry and the Age. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1953. The volume contains two of the best essays on Frost ever published: “The Other Robert Frost” and “To the Laodiceans.” See also Jarrell’s later essay, “Robert Frost’s ‘Home Burial’” (collected in Jarrell’s Third Book of Criticism [New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1969]). In general, the finest critical work done on Frost prior to the books by Brower and Poirier.
Jost, Walter. Rhetorical Investigations: Studies in Ordinary Language Criticism. University of Virginia Press, 2004. See “Book II: Four Beginnings for a Book on Robert Frost” (157–271).
Kearns, Karen. Robert Frost and a Poetics of Appetite. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Draws on, and responds to, work by Foucault, Barthes, Irigary, Kristeva, Lyotard, Ricouer, and others.
Kendall, Tim. The Art of Robert Frost. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012.
Kilcup, Karen. Robert Frost and the Feminine Literary Tradition. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998.
Lakritz, Andrew. Modernism and the Other in Stevens, Frost, and Moore. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996. See especially pp. 69–121.
Lentricchia, Frank. Modernist Quartet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. See especially pp. 1–123.
Lentricchia, Frank. Robert Frost: Modern Poetics the Landscape of the Self. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1974.
MacArthur, Marit J.The American Landscape in the Poetry of Frost, Bishop, and Ashbery: The House Abandoned. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
Mikkelsen, Ann Marie. Pastoral, Pragmatism, and Twentieth-Century American Poetry. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. See chapter two, “Tramp Culture and the Cult of Pan: Robert Frost’s Pastoral of Class Mobility.”
Monteiro, George. Robert Frost and the New England Renaissance. Louisville: University Press of Kentucky, 1988.
Muldoon, Paul. The End of the Poem. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2006. See the chapter titled “The Mountain.”
O’Brien, Timothy D.Names, Proverbs, Riddles, and Material Text in Robert Frost. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Oster, Judith. Toward Robert Frost: The Reader and the Poet. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.
Pack, Robert. Belief and Uncertainty in the Poetry of Robert Frost. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College Press, 2004.
Phillips, Siobhan. The Poetics of the Everyday: Creative Repetition in Modern American Verse. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. See the chapter titled “The Middle Living of Robert Frost.”
Poirier, Richard. Poetry and Pragmatism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. Places Frost squarely in the tradition of American pragmatism. Notable for its concluding chapter – “Reading Pragmatically: The Example of Hum 6”– which offers an account of the pedagogical tradition (so to speak) in which Frost figures.
Poirier, RichardThe Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections. New York: Random House, 1987. Particularly attentive to Frost’s relation to literary “modernism.”
Poirier, RichardRobert Frost: The Work of Knowing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977. Reissued in 1990 by Stanford University Press, with an introduction by John Hollander and a new afterword by Poirier. This study of the poet – a major reassessment – ushered in a new era in Frost criticism.
Pritchard, William. Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984. Second edition, with a new preface, issued in 1993 by the University of Massachusetts Press.
Richardson, Mark. The Ordeal of Robert Frost: The Poet and the Poetics. Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.
Sanders, David. A Divided Poet: Robert Frost, North of Boston, and the Drama of Disappearance. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2011.
Sears, John F.William James, Henri Bergson, and the Poetics of Robert Frost.” New England Quarterly 48.3 (September 1975): 341–361.
Shaw, David W.The Poetics of Pragmatism: Robert Frost and William James.” New England Quarterly 59.2 (June 1986): 159–188.
Sheehy, Donald. “(Re)Figuring Love: Robert Frost in Crisis, 1938–1942.” New England Quarterly 63.2 (June 1990): 179–231.
Stanlis, Peter. Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher. Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2008.
Thompson, Lawrance. Fire and Ice: The Art and Thought of Robert Frost. New York: Russell & Russell, 1942.


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