Fables of the Self

Fables of the Self is an intimate study of lyric poetry, which Rosanna Warren has woven into a personal, autobiographical narrative. The daughter of the distinguished poet Robert Penn Warren, the author has published four books of poetry and has served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. The book begins with the poet as a young girl in southern France, discovering Mallarmé, Roethke, and Hardy. She continues a journey through history and literary criticism, reading everything from Horace to Auden, from Dante to Bidart. Her study is relentless and inspired, reflecting Warren’s intense, broad intellect. Writing about the Divine Comedy, Warren notes that readers "find there a vastly complex medieval theology...This is not the hunger I bring to the poem. What struck me was the spiritual psychology...poetry to be tasted, gnawed, turned on the tongue." Her tone is assured and erudite but never pedantic. The book is written with a personal honesty that leaves the reader feeling invited and gladly pushing forward.

This book review originally appeared in American Poets.