In addition to Andrew McCarthy’s essay “Enter Totalitarian Democracy,” the eighth installment of our year-long series on cultural prospects at the dawn of the twenty-first century, this issue features a special section—our tenth—on poetry. With reflections on Philip Larkin, Petrarch and Góngora, the vocation of criticism, and the symbiotic relationship between poetry and prayer, these essays testify to the vibrancy of The New Criterion’s engagement with verse. We would also like to call readers’ attention to Denis Donoghue’s meditation on a career teaching modern poetry and Paul Dean’s canny review of a new biography of Ben Jonson. T. S. Eliot once defined the task of criticism as “the elucidation of works of art and the correction of taste.” Neither is popular in this demotic age, but we are proud of our effort to follow Eliot’s injunction.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 30 Number 8, on page 3
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