American critic, born in New York and educated at Cornell and Yale. He has spent his working life as a Yale professor, specializing in the Romantic literary tradition, as in The Visionary Company (1961), in opposition to T. S. Eliot's classical critical orthodoxy. His works on individual poets include Shelley's Myth‐Making (1959), Yeats (1970), and Wallace Stevens (1977); but he is better known for his ambitious reconsideration of poetic tradition in The Anxiety of Influence (1973) and A Map of Misreading (1975), which propose that major poets struggle against the suffocating weight of their predecessors, creating new poems by ‘misreading’ older ones through a complex series of rhetorical defence mechanisms. Several later works develop this thesis in more detail. The Western Canon (1994) defends the ‘great’ writers against egalitarian critical trends.