In 1950, inspired by the example of Pound's "Cantos", Olson began writing "The Maximus Poems". An exploration of American history in the broadest sense, this is also an epic of place, situated in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where Olson lived. Dogtown, the wild, rock-strewn centre of Cape Ann, next to Gloucester, is an important place in The Maximus Poems. (Olson used to write outside on a tree stump in Dogtown.) Maximus himself is based partly on Maximus of Tyre, an itinerant Greek philosopher, and partly on Olson himself. The poems eventually appeared in 1960, and there have been several subsequent editions, of which ours is presumed to be one (it has a 10-digit ISBN, which would not have been the case in 1960).
Charles Olson (1910–1970) was a 2nd-generation American poet, a link between earlier figures such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the New American poets, including the New York School, the Black Mountain School, the Beat poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance. Consequently, many postmodern groups, such as the poets of the language school, consider Olson a primary and precedent figure. He described himself not so much as a poet or writer but as "an archeologist of morning."
Our book is in excellent condition, with an equally good unclipped dust jacket showing no signs of wear apart from a 1 cm tea at the top of the rear flap fold, and some very minor softening of the top edge. The book itself, bound in yellowish cloth, shows no signs of wear or use at all. Title in blue lettering on the spine. Inside, the binding is tight with no loose pages; all pages clean and bright. A previous owner's name lightly written on the front fep.