The Tenth Muse was enormously well-received when first published by Harvard University Press in 1975, and has been deemed a classic work. It has been out of print for several years now and this is the first paperback issue. In it Albert Gelpi asks hard questions about how poetry can take on for itself the problems of shaping American identities and argues that the conditions of American life and culture have pushed our major poets into a debate between intellect and passion. Gelpi provides thorough readings of major American poets from Bradstreet and Taylor up to the modernists, often using contemporary poets (Rich, Ginsberg, Duncan) as frames for those predecessors.
"Mr. Gelpi, with brief glances at other poets in addition to the major five under especial scrutiny, illustrates his discussions with analyses of individual poems. His interpretations are often complex and brilliant and it is impossible to do justice to them in a short review. I found his discussion (and his distinction between) types and tropes as they appear in Taylor and in the later nineteenth-century poets and his interpretation of Dickinson's circumference poems as well as her use of sun, moon, and other basic symbols as they relate to the Demeter-Persephone-Kore archetype (as explicated by Jung, Neumann, and Kerenyi) particularly helpful." Donald E. Stanford, American Literature "Albert Gelpi's The Tenth Muse, has given us a strong, suggestive, and revealing book, exquisitely successful in the balance it offers of specific example, modest statement, and guarded psychological interpretation, on the one hand, and on the other hand, broad social history." Robert Coles, Studies in Romanticism