To the Editors:
I would like to comment on Bruce Bawer’s review of William Carlos Williams in the September issue of The New Criterion.
Bawer has a few useful things to say, but taken as a whole his article struck me as an almost willful misrepresentation of the man and his work. Is it really necessary to subtract from Williams in order to add to Eliot? And if so, why? Eliot was, if you like, the greater poet, and Williams’s quarrel with him had its unfortunate side, but it was at least consistent with the direction of his thought, expressed throughout his life in verse and prose: that there is (was?) in the New World a true theme, a new idea, a freshness, waiting to be discovered and given form. In all phases of his career, Williams was true to that. If he was, or seemed at times to be, incoherent, that was in part the price of his originality.
If you choose the right details and are clever enough in arranging...