The Middle Generation of Bruce Bawer’s title, poised between T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and an unruly crowd of Surrealists, Beats, New York School poets, and others born in the years after World War I, has long since passed beyond the temporal rank ascribed to it. A decade after the death of its youngest member, Robert Lowell, the four poets mainly responsible for the vigor of American poetry in the postwar era belong to literary history. Their lives and works enjoy a posthumous currency. Three of them—Schwartz, Berryman, and Lowell—have been the subject of biographies; William Pritchard is at work on a life of Jarrell. Letters and journals have been collected and published; Lowell’s essays will be out this spring. Studies by the late David Kalstone, John Thompson, and other hands are scheduled for publication or are in progress. “The stock market of literary...


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