The Book of Ephraim
The English Department congratulates Distinguished Professor Emeritus Stephen Yenser on his new publication, a critical edition of James Merrill’s The Book of Ephraim. Professor Yenser, Merrill’s co-literary executor, has produced the first stand-alone edition of this important work, which is the final piece in Merrill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Divine Comedies, and which became the opening segment of his epic, The Changing Light at Sandover. Langdon Hammer, author of James Merrill: Life and Art, observes that when Merrill was writing The Book of Ephraim, “he and Stephen Yenser were exchanging long letters about the poem. This revelatory edition draws on and completes that poetic conversation. Extracting “Ephraim” from The Changing Light at Sandover–the big, attention-grabbing trilogy that swallowed it–Yenser shows us what “Ephraim” is: Merrill’s finest poem, a major work of postwar American poetry, and a fractal network of myth, metaphor, and inspired wordplay that speaks to our fearful present moment.”
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