Behind much of [Edward Arlington] Robinson’s work, in both its more successful and its less successful aspects, lies a deeply American obsession with the theme of failure: failure of a career, failure of a social class or a society, failure of a needed meaning to sustain itself–and, finally, the inevitable failure of life to resist death’s encroachment. Remembering Eliot’s motifs of sexual and spiritual failure and Pound’s savage complaints at a culture’s failure to realize itself, we see how much those poets have in common with Robinson after all. ‘When we think of America,’ said D.H. Lawrence in his introduction to Edward Dahlberg’s novel Bottom Dogs, ‘and of her huge success, we never realize how many failures have gone, and still go to build up that success.’
– “Rival Idioms: The Great Generation” (being Chapter Five of The Modern Poets: A Critical Introduction)
Read Robinson’s “Richard Corey”
Read Lawrence’s “Last Lesson of the Afternoon”
Enough failure for one day? Ready for earthy pagan Modernist resurrection sex?
Read Lawrence’s “New Heaven and Earth”