Summer Reading B2G1 Free

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Lists | July 16, 2015

    Annie Liontas: IMG "You Want Me to Smell My Fingers?": Five Unforgettable Greek Idioms

    The word "idiom" originates in the Greek word ídios ("one's own") and means "special feature" or "special phrasing." Idioms are peculiar because,... Continue »
    1. $18.20 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

      Let Me Explain You

      Annie Liontas 9781476789088

Qualifying orders ship free.
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
25 Remote Warehouse Literary Criticism- General

This title in other editions

Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry


Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Although it has long been commonplace to imagine the archetypal American poet singing a solitary "Song of Myself," much of the most enduring American poetry has actually been preoccupied with the drama of friendship. In this lucid and absorbing study, Andrew Epstein argues that an obsession with both the pleasures and problems of friendship erupts in the "New American Poetry" that emerges after the Second World War. By focusing on some of the most significant postmodernist American poets--the "New York School" poets John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and their close contemporary Amiri Baraka--Beautiful Enemies reveals a fundamental paradox at the heart of postwar American poetry and culture: the avant-garde's commitment to individualism and nonconformity runs directly counter to its own valorization of community and collaboration. In fact, Epstein demonstrates that the clash between friendship and nonconformity complicates the legendary alliances forged by postwar poets, becomes a predominant theme in the poetry they created, and leaves contemporary writers with a complicated legacy to negotiate. Rather than simply celebrating friendship and poetic community as nurturing and inspiring, these poets represent friendship as a kind of exhilarating, maddening contradiction, a site of attraction and repulsion, affinity and rivalry.

Challenging both the reductive critiques of American individualism and the idealized, heavily biographical celebrations of literary camaraderie one finds in much critical discussion, this book provides a new interpretation of the peculiar dynamics of American avant-garde poetic communities and the role of the individual within them. By situating his extensive and revealing readings of these highly influential poets against the backdrop of Cold War cultural politics and within the context of American pragmatist thought, Epstein uncovers the collision between radical self-reliance and the siren call of the interpersonal at the core of postwar American poetry.

About the Author

Andrew Epstein is Associate Professor of English at Florida State University.

Table of Contents



1. Situation the Avant-Garde in Postwar America

Community, Individualism, and Cold War Culture

2. Emerson, Pragmatism, and the "New American Poetry"

3. "My Force Is in Mobility"

Selfhood and Friendship in Frank O'Hara's Poetry

4. Growing Up with Our Brothers All Around

John Ashbery and the Interpersonal

5. Amiri Baraka and the Poetics of Turning Away

6. "Against the Speech of Friends"

Baraka's White Friend Blues

7. "A Rainy Wool Frankie and Johnny"

O'Hara, Ashbery, and the Paradoxes of Friendship



Works Cited


Product Details

Epstein, Andrew
Oxford University Press, USA
null, Andrew
American - General
Literature/English | Poetry | American
Literary Criticism : General
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
6.14x9.21x.78 in. 1.16 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z
History and Social Science » Linguistics » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » Poetry Criticism

Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$34.95 In Stock
Product details 376 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195388985 Reviews:
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at