Critical Mass

The Critical Library: Helen Vendler


Each week, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries. We recently heard from Helen Vendler, A . Kinglsey Porter University Professor at Harvard University, and a three-time NBCC finalist. Here is what she pointed out as worth keeping in your library at all times.

The Bible, with a concordance: It lies behind English and American literature.

Shakespeare: A never-failing resource of the poetic imagination.

an Etymological Dictionary: For the ground of meaning of all words

the OED
: For the history of the meaning of a word

an en face Horace: To see a set of classical lyrics with many genres, no wasted words, and an impregnable structure.

Helen Vendler
is A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University.