Anne Sexton’s Confessional Tradition and Individual Talent

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In his influential essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” T. S. Eliot emphasizes the significance of tradition as well as the inevitability of the present talent of the artist. He argues that every artist has his own original and individual themes and techniques that separate him from and link him with his predecessors at the same time. Anne Sexton, the Confessional American woman poet, is a good example that proves this everlasting notion of the allusion to “the dead poets” of the past together with the inevitable existence of the innovative original talent of the poet. Chiefly, Sexton is labeled “Confessional” and is compared with the most remarkable Confessional poets. However, the Confessional mode is not a new movement; it has its roots in the British tradition of the Metaphysical lyrics. It is also manifest in the American tradition of Puritan Poetry. Moreover, Confessional themes and techniques can be seen in the poetry of some Modernists. Meanwhile, Anne Sexton’s exceptional Confessional “individual talent” makes her a unique Confessional poet: the uncommon imperfect raw confessions, the unconventional bold sexual imagery, the fearful and astonishing religious symbols and the excessive degrees of “impersonality” are all characteristic examples of Sexton’s creative Confessional art.

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