Art: Gold-Plated Age

In his first lecture as the newly appointed Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, highbrowed, full-bearded Poet-Critic-Novelist (Pictures from an Institution) Randall Jarrell, 42, last week suggested that this is not a golden, but a "gold-plated," age. "Most of our literature," Jarrell complained, "is Instant Literature, Ready-Mixed Literature . . . easy, familiar, instantly recognizable thoughts . . . already-agreed-upon, instantly acceptable attitudes." When he turned to the visual arts, there was somewhat less jaundice in his eye but just as much cheek in his tongue: "I hardly know whether to borrow...

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