Welcome to the


by Ben Kilpela

An unofficial web site for the study of the art and thought of the great formalist poet and cantankerous, controversial literary critic, Arthur Yvor Winters (brief introduction below)


NEW! BLOG on YVOR WINTERS: My old blogs didnít generate much conversation, so I started a new one on Blogger in September 2006.Check it out and please try to contribute.If you have a question about Wintersís work or thought, write me at my email address.The Blogger blog is a new effort, so help me get some conversation about Winters rolling.



A YEAR with YVOR WINTERS A one-time blog that added up to a book of daily selections from Wintersís writings with comments from Ben Kilpela.


Comments and suggestions welcome (even negative Ė I enjoy debating the merits of Wintersís critical theories). If you are interested in publishing an essay, short or long, casual or formal, personal or academic, on Winters on this site, please write me. I am interested in publishing your work about Winters on this site.


Arthur Yvor Winters, A Brief Introduction

Yvor Winters (1900-1968), as he is publicly known, was a contentious poet and literary critic who defended and put into practice controversial ideas about literary purpose and method.Winters believed that the literary arts have a moral aim and should employ rational literary structures and techniques. Though he was once a well-known figure in American literary culture, mostly during the Ď30s and '40s,and took part in critical debates surrounding the New Criticism -- and such theorists as Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, John Crowe Ransom, and Allen Tate -- he has become since his death an almost entirely forgotten thinker in literary circles and a poet and critic who is, as far as I am able to tell, nearly wholly unknown to general readers.

Criticism was not his first passion or calling. He was, above all, in his own mind and in the minds of many poets and critics who esteem his work, a poet. His poetry, written in a concise, rigorous, dense, and richly symbolic style (and in traditional poetic forms during most of his career), has not received its due, though some few major poets and critics still recognize its greatness and discuss his work in their writings.In addition, a few recent editions of his poetry and the inclusion of his poems in a few prominent anthologies have brought him a very small measure of attention.

His critical ideas, however, as far as I am able to discern, no longer play ANY significant role in contemporary debates on literary criticism and practice, much to the loss of literature. There are a few literary scholars and critics still study his essays and write about his criticism, but their efforts have not led to any significant revival in the influence of his controversial ideas.Nevertheless, in my judgment and in the opinion of a few others, he was, if not the greatest, then one of the greatest critics and thinkers in the history of English and American literature.

Questions Covered under my page, "BASICS QUESTIONS about YVOR WINTERS":

†† Who was Arthur Yvor Winters?

†† What was so controversial about him?

†† Why has he been forgotten?

†† What did he write about?

†† How did he write?

†† Is there anything interesting about his life?

Wasn't Winters a formalist poet and a defender of formalism in poetry?

†† Why is there so much discussion of reason in his works?

†† Didn't Winters write extensively on poetic meter?

Who's doing the talking here?Ben Kilpela, shown standing beside my framed album cover of Winters's recording in the Yale Series of Recorded Poets, with photographs of my children to the right.

This web site maintained by Ben Kilpela. All content copyright to Bennett Wade Kilpela, 2002 - 2006.


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