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Aiken, Conrad (Potter).

Aiken, Conrad [Potter]

(1889 - 1973) American writer. When Aiken was a small boy, Aiken 's father killed his wife and then himself, a tragedy that had an inestimable effect on Aiken's development. Most of his work reflects his intense interest in psychoanalysis and the development of identity. Of the many influences Aiken acknowledged, the writings of Freud, Havelock Ellis, William James, Edgar Allan Poe, and the French symbolists are evident in his work. He graduated from Harvard in 1912, in the same era as T. S. Eliot, Walter Lippmann, Van Wyck Brooks, and E. E. Cummings. His autobiographical book Ushant affords much insight into these and other literary figures he knew.

The forms and sounds of music pervade all of Aiken's highly introspective poetry, collected in such volumes as The Jig of Forslin (1916), The Charnel Rose (1918), Selected Poems (1929; Pulitzer Prize, 1930), Brownstone Eclogues (1942), The Kid (1947), and Collected Poems 1916 - 1970 (1970). His fiction -- Collected Novels (1964), including the psychologically interesting Blue Voyage -- is fraught with symbolism and shows him to be a master of interior monologue. It had a shaping influence on the works of many young writers of the day, including his proteg e Malcolm Lowry. Aiken'scritical essays are compiled in A Reviewer's ABC (1958); his Collected Short Stories appeared in 1960. As editor of Emily Dickinson's Selected Poems (1924), Aiken was largely responsible for establishing that poet's posthumous literary reputation. The Selected Letters of Conrad Aiken (1978) contains correspondence with such literary colleagues as Wallace Stevens, Harriet Monroe, and Edmund Wilson.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
Words:258
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