The Popular Poetry of the “Fireside Poets” and Their Changing Reputations
PD Dr. Margit Peterfy
The image above represents H. W. Longfellow at the height of his fame, around 1880. Already in 1932, however, the critic and writer Ludwig Lewisohn could safely present his rejection in form of a rhetorical question: “Who except wretched school-children now reads Longfellow?”1 What happened in these fifty years that changed the perception of the writer and other so-called “Fireside Poets”?
This lecture will try to re-capture their former appeal in exemplary interpretations of selected poems and will discuss the developments that lead to the demise of their reputations.
1Ludwig Lewisohn, Expression in America (New York: Harper, 1932) 65.