Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry

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9780140588996: Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry

Drawing on poetry written in English and on European poetry in translation, this anthology tells the story of the 20th century in verse - primarily the story of world events but also of social changes, technical developments, and ways of thinking and behaving.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Editor Forbes divides his anthology into 39 sections, arranged both chronologically and by subject, with such headings as "Omens: 1900-1914," "Strange Fruit: Civil Rights 1930s-1968," and "Workout in Reality Gym: The Eighties & Nineties." In his introduction, Forbes notes that he does not (and could not) include writers from all parts of the globe-instead he focuses upon events that have been global in consequence (such as the world wars, advances in science and technology, and decolonization) and arranges his selections in connection to them. A timeline of events and their corresponding poems is included as an appendix. While over 100 translations appear, the majority of poets represented herein hail from Britain and the US. Forbes nonetheless has done an admirable job of being "inclusive" without pandering to the masses, and we are offered a generous sampling of contemporary British poets with whom most American readers are not likely to be familiar. While better-known poets such as W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice have the most entries (eight apiece), most others are allotted only one work (or excerpt), making it difficult to get a sense of the poets' work beyond what is given. Still, this is not meant to be an anthology of poets, but of poems, some of which have been included because they are topical, not because they are aesthetically important-but inferior poems are the exception here, not the rule.An entertaining anthology of value both artistically and historically. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Anthologist Forbes' fat, satisfying volume is constructed on a scheme so simple yet compelling that it is odd no one else thought of it before. The aim is to present the historical currents of the twentieth century as reflected in poems. The presentation is chronological but also topical, with a topical section appearing where the topic first cropped up in time; for instance, sections on civil rights and Vietnam come after the section on the 1960s. Certain sections overlap in time, such as those on Fascism v. Communism, World War II, and the Holocaust. English and American poets predominate, yet plenty of European and former colonies' poets are also represented. The ranges of mood, style, and form are broad, and twentieth-century eclecticism informs many fine poems--for instance, Lennon and McCartney's "A Day in the Life." A chronological list of events and the poems about them makes a unique and intriguing appendix. Library literature departments should tell the history and reference departments about this book, for it is a boon to all three. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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