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John Livingston Lowes Biography

(1867–1945), All's Well that Ends Well, Hamlet, Convention and Revolt in Poetry

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American scholar and critic, born in Decatur, Indiana, educated at the universities of Leipzig and Berlin, and at Harvard, where he was Professor of English from 1918 to 1930. Greatly admired as a teacher, Lowes lectured throughout the USA and was the first holder of the Eastman Visiting Professorship at Balliol College, Oxford, in 19301. Among his earlier works are editions of Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well (1912) and Hamlet (1914). Convention and Revolt in Poetry (1919), an authoritative survey of tensions between tradition and innovation in the development of English verse, extended his reputation, which was greatly enhanced by The Road to Xanadu (1927); this ‘study in the ways of the imagination’, widely regarded as one of the highest critical achievements of the twentieth century, establishes an enormous frame of reference in its charting of Coleridge's creative processes in the writing of ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Lowes was also respected as a commentator on the poetry of Chaucer, his principal publications in this field being The Art of Geoffrey Chaucer (1931) and Geoffrey Chaucer and the Development of His Genius (1934). His collections of essays include Of Reading Books (1930) and Essays in Appreciation (1936). Among the other books Lowes edited is Amy Lowell's Selected Poems (1928).

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