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Cleanth Brooks

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Cleanth Brooks

Cleanth Brooks (1906-1994) was an influential American literary critic. He was eminent among the New Critics of the mid-twentieth century, and is still remembered as an extremely attentive reader. Brooks described inattentive, summary reading of poetry with a coined phrase which is still popular, "the Heresy of Paraphrase."

Brooks's books included The Well-Wrought Urn (1947), his best-known work, and Modern Poetry and the Tradition (1939); both works argued for the centrality of ambiguity and paradox to an understanding of poetry. He also wrote two studies of William Faulkner, The Yoknapatawpha Country and Toward Yoknapatawpha and Beyond; he wrote with Robert Penn Warren an influential textbook, Understanding Poetry: An Anthology for College Students, and with W.K. Wimsatt he wrote Literary Criticism: A Short History. His later work included A Shaping Joy: Studies in the Writer's Craft.

Brooks studied at Vanderbilt University, where he met Robert Penn Warren, and then at Tulane University, after which he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He was a student of John Crowe Ransom at Vanderbilt and Kenyon College. Although he was not technically a member of either group, he was well acquainted with the members of both the Fugitives and the Agrarians, two literary groups associated with Vanderbilt in the 1920's and 1930's. From 1947 to 1975 he was a professor of English at Yale College.he:קלינת' ברוקס

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