Dr. Peter Stanlis delivers on promise to Robert Frost with new book

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11914451936741.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of frostfriends.org‘, ‘Dr. Peter J. Stanlis‘);

WILMINGTON, Del.—ISI Books, the imprint of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, has announced the publication of Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher (1-933859-20-2); cloth; 400 pp. $28) by Rockford’s Dr. Peter J. Stanlis with a foreword by Timothy Steele.

Stanlis’ path-breaking new study helps to correct five decades of misinterpretation of the poet’s philosophy and character. Far from being the egotistical “monster” that many critics took him to be after Lawrance Thompson’s authorized biography was published, Frost was a man whose thought sought out a humane middle ground between the Scylla of materialism and the Charybdis of utopian idealism. Frost’s dualism—his nuanced understanding of individual and community, science and faith, matter and mind or spirit—is the key to interpreting his life and work. Stanlis shows that Frost was a serious philosophical thinker whose poetry grappled with the work of Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley, Albert Einstein, George Santayana, Arthur Lovejoy and other leading 19th- and 20th-century scientists and philosophers.

Thoroughly informed by an unparalleled analysis of Frost’s work as well as a 23-year friendship and correspondence with Frost, Stanlis’ landmark volume is the first attempt to deal with the poet’s philosophy in a systematic manner. It will appeal not only to fans of Frost but to all who understand poetry as a form of revelation for understanding human nature.

Stanlis said: “In August 1944, out of gratitude to Robert Frost for all that he has done to foster my academic career, and out of admiration of him as a man and poet, I promised him that someday I would write the best book about his art and thought that I had it in me to write. This is that book.”

Stanlis is distinguished professor of humanities, emeritus, at Rockford College. The author of Edmund Burke and the Natural Law, which appeared in 1955 and revolutionized the way Burke was viewed by scholars, he promised Frost in 1944 that he would someday write the best book about Frost’s art and thought that he had it in him to write. Stanlis’ previous monograph on Frost is titled Robert Frost: The Individual and Society.

Timothy Steele, a prominent figure in the New Formalism movement, is professor of English at California State University, Los Angeles. He is the author of several books of poetry, including The Color Wheel and Toward the Winter Solstice, and two books on prosody.

from the Oct. 3, 2007, issue

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