Randall Jarrell (1914-1965) was the most influential poetry critic of his generation; he was also a lyric poet, comic novelist, childrens book author, and close friend of Elizabeth Bishop, Hannah Arendt, and many other important writers of his time. This book examines all of Jarrells work, incorporating new research such as previously undiscovered essays and poems. Other books have examined Jarrells poetry in biographical or formal terms, but none have considered both his aesthetic choices and their social contexts. Burt argues that Jarrells poetry responded to the political questions of the 1930s, the anxieties and social constraints of wartime America, and the apparent prosperity, domestic ideals, and professional ideology that characterized the 1950s. Jarrells work is peopled by helpless soldiers, anxious suburban children, trapped housewives, and lonely consumers. Randall Jarrell and his age situates the poet-critic among his peers in literature and cultural criticism. It considers the ways in which Jarrells efforts and achievements encompassed the concerns of his time, from teen culture to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the book posits what these concerns might say to our own.