No finalists were announced this year.
Williams’s poetry is characterized by formal freedom inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman coupled with an imagistic conciseness; like Pound, Williams believed that concrete details need no explanation, that ideas must be embodied in images. His poems are full of everyday objects; they celebrate the ordinary and the seemingly trivial though they do so in unfamiliar ways and often from a surprising perspective. This volume contains poems spanning three decades in Williams’s career.
Paterson is both a place—the New Jersey city in whom the person (the poet’s own life) and the public (the history of the region) are combined. Originally four books (published individually between 1946 and 1951), the structure of Paterson (in Dr. Williams’ words) “follows the course of the Passaic River” from above the great falls to its entrance into the sea. The unexpected Book Five, published in 1958, affirms the triumphant life of the imagination, in spite of age and death. This revised edition has been meticulously re-edited by Christopher MacGowan, who has supplied a wealth of notes and explanatory material. [New Directions]
Three years of war passed before the historic day in March, 1864, when the experienced and modest Grant met Lincoln, also experienced and equally modest. Behind the General were notable successes; behind the President were months of disappointment with generals who had been unequal to the hard task of conducting offensive operations against the Confederate army commanded by Lee, and who had even missed good chances of shortening the war by destroying Lee’s army on his two ventures across the Potomac. [Jacket copy]
A Southern white writer, educator, and activist, Lillian Smith (1897–1966) spoke out all her life against injustice. In Killers of the Dream (1949), her most influential book, she draws on memories of her childhood to describe the psychological and moral cost of the powerful, contradictory rules about sin, sex, and segregation—the intricate system of taboos—that undergirded Southern society.
Published to wide controversy, it became the source (acknowledged or unacknowledged) of much of our thinking about race relations and was for many a catalyst for the civil rights movement. It remains the most courageous, insightful, and eloquent critique of the pre-1960s South.
“I began to see racism and its rituals of segregation as a symptom of a grave illness,” Smith wrote. “When people think more of their skin color than of their souls, something has happened to them.” Today, readers are rediscovering in Smith’s writings a forceful analysis of the dynamics of racism, as well as her prophetic understanding of the connections between racial and sexual oppression. [via W. W. Norton]
Telling with frankness and charm what it is like to be the President’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt writes about the great events and personal experiences during the years that began with the governorship and ended with F.D.R.’s death. [via the publisher]
In the century since the publication of the special theory of relativity, there remains a tendency to venerate Einstein’s genius without actually understanding his achievement. This book offers the opportunity to truly comprehend the workings of one of humanity’s greatest minds. Acclaimed by Einstein himself, it is among the clearest, most readable expositions of relativity theory. It explains the problems Einstein faced, the experiments that led to his theories, and what his findings reveal about the forces that govern the universe. The concepts of relativity and the fourth dimension unfold with all the vivid excitement of research into the unknown, in language anyone can readily understand. [via Dover Publications]