Randall Jarrell on Yvor Winters

From David Yezzi in the New Criterion:

“From one side of his mouth he pronounced in The New York Times that “Winters’ clear, independent and serious talent has produced criticism that no cultivated person can afford to leave unread.” And from the other, in an unpublished lecture lately exhumed for an issue of The Georgia Review, Jarrell suggests that Winters’s criticism

should be classified, in his own terms, as a startlingly neoprimitive variety of neoclassicism, since in it he pretends to a simplicity, a simple-mindedness, that is not naturally his but that has been imported from another age at the great cost of everyone concerned. Mr. Winters’ critical method reminds me of Blake and his wife sitting naked in their garden, pretending to be Adam and Eve.

Of Winters’s “The Experimental School in American Poetry,” which Jarrell notes has “been praised as the critical feat of the time,” he gripes, “There is a sort of brutal frivolity about it: it is so disorganized, arbitrary, and obviously inadequate as to be unworthy both of the subject and Mr. Winters.”