Daniel Aaron University of Michigan Press, 2007 Library of Congress E175.5.A15A3 2007 | Dewey Decimal 973.07202
“ I have read all of Daniel Aaron’ s books, and admired them, but in The Americanist I believe he has composed an intellectual and social memoir for which he will be remembered. His self-portrait is marked by personal tact and admirable restraint: he is and is not its subject. The Americanist is a vision of otherness: literary and academic friends and acquaintances, here and abroad. Eloquently phrased and free of nostalgia, it catches a lost world that yet engendered much of our own.”
— Harold Bloom
“ The Americanist is the absorbing intellectual autobiography of Daniel Aaron, who is the leading proponent and practitioner of American Studies. Written with grace and wit, it skillfully blends Daniel Aaron’ s personal story with the history of the field he has done so much to create. This is a first-rate book by a first-rate scholar.”
— David Herbert Donald, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
The Americanist is author and critic Daniel Aaron’ s anthem to nearly a century of public and private life in America and abroad. Aaron, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of American Studies, graduated from the University of Michigan, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught for over three decades each at Smith College and Harvard.
Aaron writes with unsentimental nostalgia about his childhood in Los Angeles and Chicago and his later academic career, which took him around the globe, often in the role of America’ s accidental yet impartial critic. When Walt Whitman, whom Aaron frequently cites as a touchstone, wrote, “ I am large, I contain multitudes,” he could have been describing Daniel Aaron— the consummate erudite and Renaissance individual whose allegiance to the truth always outweighs mere partisan loyalty.
Not only should Aaron’ s book stand as a resplendent and summative work from one of the finest thinkers of the last hundred years, it also succeeds on its own as a first-rate piece of literature, on a par with the writings of any of its subjects. The Americanist is a veritable Who’ s Who of twentieth-century writers Aaron interviewed, interacted with, or otherwise encountered throughout his life: Ralph Ellison, Robert Frost, Lillian Hellman, Richard Hofstadter, Alfred Kazin, Sinclair Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, John Crowe Ransom, Upton Sinclair, Edmund Wilson, Leonard Woolf, and W. B. Yeats, to name only a few.
Aaron’ s frank and personal observations of these literary lights make for lively reading. As well, scattered throughout The Americanist are illuminating portraits of American presidents living and passed— miniature masterworks of astute political observation that offer dazzlingly fresh approaches to well-trod subjects.
Wallace Fowlie describes his book as "not as much a memoir-autobiography as Journal of Rehearsals, but a reconstruction of events and thoughts that have formed me. The life of each man: a myth. The effort of each writer: to give meaning to his myth."
In Aubade: A Teacher's Notebook Fowlie writes at length of his life as a teacher at Duke University, his friendships with students and colleagues, his appreciation of movies, plays, travels, friends and books he has enjoyed and that have enhanced his life. This is an account of the life of a dedicated teacher who is also a writer-critic. Fowlie assesses his own sense of identity and the manner in which he transmits the values his studies have for him to his students through major literary texts. Aubade delineates Fowlies discovery, via his students, of the forms of a new culture arising alongside the old, which he integrates into his own intellectual life, broadening its horizons.
Becoming What One Is
Austin Warren University of Michigan Press, 1995 Library of Congress PN75.W3A3 1995 | Dewey Decimal 809
The late Austin Warren was one of the most distinguished literary scholars of the twentieth century, well known as a biographer, literary critic, and teacher. He retired from the University of Michigan English Department in 1968 after twenty years on the faculty. Warren's memoir ends at age forty, because, as he explains in the preface, the most interesting part of anyone's life is the formative years.
He begins with his childhood in Massachusetts and education at Wesleyan, Harvard, and Princeton, and ends with reflections on the problems of integrating his profession, teaching, with his vocation, writing. The journey in between is extraordinary, a re-creation of the scholar's search for identity, religion, wisdom, and a new vision of the role of a teacher.
Warren "forged his soul when others weren't looking," writes Russell Fraser in his foreword to the book. He grew up on a lonely New England farm, went to a school where he learned to hate even Shakespeare, and entered college without enthusiasm. But the history of his education, as is often the case, was one first of rescue by inspiring mentors, then of outgrowing those mentors, and finally of forging a vision of his own. By the 1930s he had shaken up classrooms by abandoning formal lectures and become an inspiration in his own right.
A singular personality who never stopped searching for meaningful spirituality and a wider intellectual world, Austin Warren was among the most important scholars of the twentieth century. His memoirs of "becoming" are an elegant and absorbing chronicle.
The Black Seasons
Glowinski Northwestern University Press, 2005 Library of Congress PG7011.G58A3 2005 | Dewey Decimal 891.8509
A mosaic of memories from a childhood in the Warsaw Ghetto and a life in hiding on the other side of the wall
When six-year-old Michal Glowinski first heard the adults around him speak of the ghetto, he understood only that the word was connected with moving-and conjured up a fantastical image of a many-storied carriage pulled through the streets by some umpteen horses. He was soon to learn that the ghetto was something else entirely. A half-century later, Glowinski, now an eminent Polish literary scholar, leads us haltingly into Nazi-occupied Poland. Scrupulously attentive to the distance between a child's experience and an adult's reflection, Glowinski revisits the images and episodes of his childhood: the emaciated violinist playing a Mendelssohn concerto on the ghetto streets; his game of chess with a Polish blackmailer threatening to deliver him to the Gestapo; and his eventual rescue by Catholic nuns in an impoverished, distant convent. In language at once spare and eloquent, Glowinski explores the horror of those years, the fragility of existence, and the fragmented nature of memory itself.
Child of a Turbulent Century
Victor Erlich Northwestern University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PG2947.E75A3 2006 | Dewey Decimal 891.709
Victor Erlich was born in 1914, at the threshold of what the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova called "the real twentieth century," in Petrograd, a place indelibly marked by that century's violent dislocations and upheavals. His story, begun on the eve of the First World War and taking him through Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, and the U. S. Army, is in many ways a memoir of that "real twentieth century," reflecting its lethal nature and shaped by the "fearful symmetry" of the age of totalitarianism. Erlich's grandfather, the legendary Jewish historian Simon Dubnov, was felled in December 1941 by a Nazi bullet; his father, Henryk Erlich, a leader of the Jewish Bund and a prominent figure in Russian and Polish socialism, took his life in Stalin's prison in May 1942. To read about Erlich's life growing up at the intersection of the century's darkest currents is to experience history firsthand from the Russian Revolution to the end of the Second World War-and to know what it truly is to be a child of the century.
Erlich conjures up what it was like to be a Bundist, the intensity of Socialist life at the time, the thinking after the Nazi invasion of Poland-before the pact between Hitler and Stalin became apparent. Figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendel Wilkie, Marc and Bella Chagall make appearances, as well as the famous logician Tarski, flunking Erlich in math. Throughout, despite the darkness, even the horror, of much of what he describes, the author maintains the beguiling tone and the warm manner of one who has reached the new millennium with rare and hard-won insight into the human comedy of his time.
Offering all of the extant letters exchanged by two of the twentieth century's most distinguished literary figures, Cleanth Brooks and Allen Tate: Collected Letters, 1933-1976 vividly depicts the remarkable relationship, both professional and personal, between Brooks and Tate over the course of their lifelong friendship.
An accomplished poet, critic, biographer, and teacher, Allen Tate had a powerful influence on the literary world of his era. Editor of the Fugitive and the Sewanee Review, Tate greatly affected the lives and careers of his fellow literati, including Cleanth Brooks. Esteemed coeditor of An Approach to Literature and Understanding Poetry, Brooks was one of the principal creators of the New Criticism. His Modern Poetry and the Tradition and The Well Wrought Urn, as well as his two-volume study of Faulkner, remain among the classics read by any serious student of literature. The correspondence between these two gentlemen-scholars, which began in the 1930s, extended over five decades and covered a vast amount of twentieth-century literary history.
In the more than 250 letters collected here, the reader will encounter their shared concerns for and responses to the work of their numerous friends and many prominent writers, including T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, and Robert Lowell. Their letters offer details about their own developing careers and also provide striking insight into the group dynamics of the Agrarians, the noteworthy community of southern writers who played so influential a role in the literature of modernism.
Brooks once said that Tate treated him like a younger brother, and despite great differences between their personalities and characters, these two figures each felt deep brotherly affection for the other. Whether they contain warm invitations for the one to visit the other, genteel or honest commentaries on their families and friends, or descriptions of the vast array of social, professional, and even political activities each experienced, the letters of Brooks and Tate clearly reveal the personalities of both men and the powerful ties of their strong camaraderie.
Invaluable to both students and teachers of literature, Cleanth Brooks and Allen Tate provides a substantial contribution to the study of twentieth-century American, and particularly southern, literary history.
The earliest anthology of Chinese poetry, the Book of Poems, has served as an ideal of literary perfection and also a major subject of literary criticism since imperial times. Rusk unravels the competitive, mutually influential relationship through which classical and literary scholarship on the poems co-evolved from the Han dynasty to the Qing.
Of all the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale, in which a young schoolboy is murdered by Jews for singing a song in praise of the Virgin Mary, poses a problem to contemporary readers because of the antisemitism of the story it tells. Both the Tale’s antisemitism and its “Chaucerianism”—its fitness or aptness as part of the Chaucerian canon—are significant topics of reflection for modern readers, who worry about the Tale’s ethical implications as well as Chaucer’s own implications. Over the past fifty years, scholars have asked: Is the antisemitism in the tale that of the Prioress? Or of Chaucer the pilgrim? Or of Chaucer the author? Or, indeed, whether one ought to discuss antisemitism in the Prioress’s Tale at all, considering the potential anachronism of expecting medieval texts to conform to contemporary ideologies.
The Critics and the Prioress responds to a critical stalemate between the demands of ethics and the entailments of methodology. The book addresses key moments in criticism of the Prioress’s Tale—particularly those that stage an encounter between historicism and ethics—in order to interrogate these critical impasses while suggesting new modes for future encounters. It is an effort to identify, engage, and reframe some significant—and perennially repeated—arguments staked out in this criticism, such as the roles of gender, aesthetics, source studies, and the appropriate relationship between ethics and historicism.
The Critics and the Prioress will be an essential resource for Chaucer scholars researching as well as teaching the Prioress’s Tale. Scholars and students of Middle English literature and medieval culture more generally will also be interested in this book’s rigorous analysis of contemporary scholarly approaches to expressions of antisemitism in Chaucer’s England.
CRITICS OF MYSTERY MARVEL is Youssef Alaoui's debut full-length poetry collection, which explores human relationships between individuals, cultures, races, and genders. He deftly utilizes archaic tones to formulate an artistic approach to metaphor in verse, creating images that appear wholly in the mind and not on the page. This volume consists of ten sections that explores Alaoui's family and heritage, an endless source of inspiration for his varied, dark, spiritual and carnal writings. Blending surrealism, magical realism, and language alchemy, Alaoui explores the human mythos of love, poverty, politics, racism, and war. A few of the poems are written in French and Spanish, translated to English. Post-beat verse from the San Francisco Bay area and the Big-Sur, CRITICS OF MYSTERY MARVEL touches the depth of the soul with poetry that is metaphorically luminous.
This selection of fiction by many of America's best writers, each coupled with a distinguished critic's response, is designed to defy the chronological secondariness of critical interpretation. During the creation of this book the majority of the contributions, chosen by the writers themselves, were as yet unpublished, providing an unmediated encounter between author and critic. Every reader extends what editors, authors, and critics have begun by adding to the imaginary space in which all texts may be woven together. This process serves as metaphor for the changing nature of any latter-day encounter with one's own literary tradition. The interfacing of texts not only illuminates the fiction, and the relationship of fiction to critics, but also informs our conceptions of text, criticism, and fiction itself.
For a long time now, readers and scholars have strained against the limits of traditional literary criticism, whose precepts—above all, "objectivity"—seem to have so little to do with the highly personal and deeply felt experience of literature. The Intimate Critique marks a movement away from this tradition. With their rich spectrum of personal and passionate voices, these essays challenge and ultimately breach the boundaries between criticism and narrative, experience and expression, literature and life. Grounded in feminism and connected to the race, class, and gender paradigms in cultural studies, the twenty-six contributors to this volume—including Jane Tompkins, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Shirley Nelson Garner, and Shirley Goek-Lin Lim—respond in new, refreshing ways to literary subjects ranging from Homer to Freud, Middlemarch to The Woman Warrior, Shiva Naipaul to Frederick Douglass. Revealing the beliefs and formative life experiences that inform their essays, these writers characteristically recount the process by which their opinions took shape--a process as conducive to self-discovery as it is to critical insight. The result—which has been referred to as "personal writing," "experimental critical writing," or "intellectual autobiography"—maps a dramatic change in the direction of literary criticism.
Contributors. Julia Balen, Dana Beckelman, Ellen Brown, Sandra M. Brown, Rosanne Kanhai-Brunton, Suzanne Bunkers, Peter Carlton, Brenda Daly, Victoria Ekanger, Diane P. Freedman, Olivia Frey, Shirley Nelson Garner, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Melody Graulich, Gail Griffin, Dolan Hubbard, Kendall, Susan Koppelman, Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Linda Robertson, Carol Taylor, Jane Tompkins, Cheryl Torsney, Trace Yamamoto, Frances Murphy Zauhar
By the end of the nineteenth century, rhetoric had not yet been established as a legitimate discipline. Fred Newton Scott (1860-1931) spent his life broadening the scope of rhetoric studies through his imaginative, interdisciplinary research. Scott was both a pragmatic reformer and a visionary scholar who used empirical methods and cognitive psychology to expand this field. In this study, Donald Stewart and his wife Patricia examine Scott's essays, speeches, and books to write the first comprehensive biography of the man who became one of the most influential figures in language studies during the early twentieth century.
The Life of Kingsley Amis
Zachary Leader Northwestern University Press, 2011 Library of Congress PR6001.M6Z77 2011 | Dewey Decimal 828.91409
Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation, but also a dominant figure in post–World War II British writing as a novelist, poet, critic, and polemicist. Zachary Leader’s definitive, authorized biography conjures in vivid detail the life of one of the most controversial figures of twentieth-century literature, renowned for his blistering intelligence, savage wit, and belligerent fierceness of opinion.
In The Life of Kingsley Amis, Leader, the acclaimed editor of The Letters of Kingsley Amis, draws not only on published and unpublished works and correspondence, but also on interviews with a wide range of Amis’s friends, relatives, fellow writers, students, and colleagues, many of whom have never spoken publicly before. The result is a compulsively readable account of Amis’s childhood, school days, and life as a student at Oxford, teacher, critic, political and cultural commentator, professional author, husband, father, and lover. Neither evading nor sensationalizing the more salacious aspects of Amis’s life, Leader explores the writer’s phobias, self-doubts, and ambitions; the controversies in which he was embroiled; and the role that drink played in a life bedeviled by erotic entanglements, domestic turbulence, and personal disaster.
Here is the biography that its subject deserves. Like Amis himself, it is incisive and unsentimental, deeply appreciative of aesthetic achievement, and a great source of amusing anecdotes. Dazzling for its thoroughness, psychological acuity, and elegant style, The Life of Kingsley Amis is exemplary: literary biography at its very best.
Gilbert, Sandra M Rutgers University Press, 1995 Library of Congress PS3557.I34227M37 1995 | Dewey Decimal 812.54
Is there a plot against the life of letters today?!!!! A mysterious assailant has tied a nameless text to a railroad track near Boondock State University. While young untenured English professor Jane Marple enlists a group of odd and oddly rivalrous academicians to help her identify and save the text, a coalition of powerful conservatives begins to suspect and rally against a left-wing conspiracy. But all are foiled when the amnesiac text is abducted on the Euro-Centric Express, where Ms. Marple encounters a number of suspiciously eccentric theorists temporarily set loose from their usual haunts in Marxist, deconstructionist, new historicist, and postcolonial circles. You'll laugh with our heroine, you'll cry with her, but you'll never guess how--using the very latest technology and in the midst of sometimes sinister stage and screen celebrities--she brings the last of three thrilling episodes in the canon wars to an end at a WOW (Writers of the World) conference set in the heart of the Big Apple.
In this hilarious romp through the culture wars, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar send up everyone including, sometimes, themselves, while at the same time they speculate seriously on the future of literature and literacy in a society where both are increasingly endangered. The cast includes well-known critics, politicians, writers, pop stars, media personalities, and a juicy assortment of technocrats, CEOs, and other culture vultures. Any similarities you find between these characters and actual persons, living or dead, are probably glaring. So, hum the opening notes of Masterpiece Theatre as you sit back, relax, and consider (yes!) the fate of the printed word in Western civilization.
Masterpiece Theatre is the latest--and funniest--round in the culture wars. No member of Modern Language Association, lover of literature and literacy, cultural pundit, or talking head should be without a copy.
Memory: A Fourth Memoir
Wallace Fowlie Duke University Press, 1990 Library of Congress PQ67.F65A3 1990 | Dewey Decimal 840.9
Wallace Fowlie is known to three generations of students at Duke University for his course in Proust. His observations on the changing interests of college students (Bob Dylan to Jim Morrison, Fellini to Pasolini) are part of this fourth memoir. In Memory, Fowlie brings us once more into his broad range of vision as he examines the offerings of memory, more real to him he tells us than the town in which he now lives. the reader follows his search for words, his early more mystical search for a father-son relationship, his remembering of the small acts that determine life.
Katerina Clark Harvard University Press, 1984 Library of Congress PG2947.B3C58 1984 | Dewey Decimal 801.950924
Missing Persons: A Memoir
Gayle Greene University of Nevada Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS29.G74A3 2017 | Dewey Decimal 818.603
Missing Persons is a memoir about dealing with death in a culture that gives no help. As the last of her family, Greene’s losses are stark, first her aunt, then her mother, in quick succession. She is as ill-equipped for the challenges of caring for a dying person at home as she is for the other losses, long repressed, that rise to confront her at this time: the suicide of her younger brother, the death of her father. As the professional identity on which she’s based her selfhood comes to feel brittle and trivial, she is catapulted into questions of “who am I?” and “what have I done with my life?”
The memoir is structured as an account of her mother's and aunt’s final days and the year that follows, a year in which she reconstructs her life. This is a powerful story about family, what it means to have one, to lose one, never to have made one, and what, if anything, might take its place. It’s the story of a vexed mother-daughter relationship that mellows with age. It is also a search for home, as the very landscape shifts around her and the vast orchards are dug up and paved over for tract housing, strip malls, freeways, and the Santa Clara Valley, once known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight, is transformed to “Silicon.”
In his autobiography, My Many Selves, Wayne C. Booth is less concerned with his professional achievements---though the book by no means ignores his distinguished career---than with the personal vision that emerges from a long life lived thoughtfully. For Booth, even the autobiographical process becomes part of a quest to harmonize the diverse, often conflicting aspects of who he was. To see himself clearly and whole, he broke the self down, personified the fragments, uncovered their roots in his experience and background, and engaged those selves and experiences in dialogue. Basic to his story and to its lifelong concern with ethics and rhetoric was his Mormon youth in rural Utah. In adulthood he struggled with that background, abandoning most Mormon doctrines, but he retained the identity, ethical questions, and concern with communication that this upbringing gave him.
The uncommon wisdom and careful attention that empower Wayne Booth's many other books cause My Many Selves to transcend its genre, as the best memoirs always do. The book becomes a window through which we who read it will see our own conflicts, our own ongoing struggle to live honestly and ethically in the world.
Wayne Booth died in October 2005, soon after completing work on this autobiography.
The Nearest Thing to Life
James Wood Brandeis University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PR55.W55A3 2015 | Dewey Decimal 801.95092
In this remarkable blend of memoir and criticism, James Wood, the noted contributor to the New Yorker, has written a master class on the connections between fiction and life. He argues that of all the arts, fiction has a unique ability to describe the shape of our lives and to rescue the texture of those lives from death and historical oblivion. The act of reading is understood here as the most sacred and personal of activities, and there are brilliant discussions of individual works—among others, Chekhov’s story “The Kiss,” The Emigrants, by W. G. Sebald, and The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald. Wood reveals his own intimate relationship with the written word: we see the development of a boy from the provinces growing up in a charged Christian environment, the secret joy of his childhood reading, the links he draws between reading and blasphemy, or between literature and music. The final section discusses fiction in the context of exile and homelessness. More than a tightly argued little book by a man commonly regarded as our finest living critic, The Nearest Thing to Life is an exhilarating personal account that reflects on, and embodies, the fruitful conspiracy between reader and writer (and critic), and asks us to reconsider everything that is at stake when we read and write fiction.
Even the most brilliant minds have to eat. And for some scholars, food preparation is more than just a chore; it’s a passion. In this unique culinary memoir and cookbook, renowned cultural critic Elisabeth Bronfen tells of her lifelong love affair with cooking and demonstrates what she has learned about creating delicious home meals. She recounts her cherished food memories, from meals eaten at the family table in postwar Germany to dinner parties with friends. Yet, in a thoughtful reflection on the pleasures of cooking for one, she also reveals that some of her favorite meals have been consumed alone.
Though it contains more than 250 mouth-watering recipes, Obsessed is anything but a conventional cookbook. As she shares a lifetime of knowledge acquired in the kitchen, Bronfen hopes to empower both novice and experienced home chefs to improvise, giving them hints on how to tweak her recipes to their own tastes. And unlike cookbooks that assume readers have access to an unlimited pantry, this book is grounded in reality, offering practical advice about food storage and reusing leftovers. As Bronfen serves up her personal stories and her culinary wisdom, reading Obsessed is like sitting down to a home-cooked meal with a clever friend.
Plays, Movies, and Critics
Jody McAuliffe, ed. Duke University Press, 1993 Library of Congress PN2020.P57 1993 | Dewey Decimal 792
This exceptional collection explores the mutual concerns of dramatic theater, film, and those who comment on them. Plays, Movies, and Critics opens with an original play by Don DeLillo. In the form of an interview, DeLillo's short play works as a kind of paradigm of the theatrical or cinematic event and serves as a keynote for the volume. DeLillo's interview play is accompanied in this collection by interviews with theater director Roberta Levitow, Martin Scorsese, and film/theater critic Stanley Kauffmann. Other contributions include a critical look at the current American theater scene, analyses of the place of politics in the careers of G. B. Shaw and Luigi Pirandello, a compelling reading of Chekhov's "The Seagull", a detailed inquiry into the obsessions that energize the works of Sam Shepard, provocative reinterpretations of the films Mean Streets and The Sheltering Sky, and a translation of André Bazin's important piece on theology and film.
Contributors. André Bazin, Robert Brustein, Bert Cardullo, Anthony DeCurtis, Don DeLillo, Jesse Ward Engdhal, Richard Gilman, Jim Hosney, Mame Hunt, Jonathan Kalb, Stanley Kauffmann, Jody McAuliffe, Mary Ann Frese Witt, Jacquelyn Wollman, David Wyatt
After the 1929 crash, Anglo-American poet-critics grappled with the task of legitimizing literature for public funding and consumption. Modernism, Evan Kindley shows, created a new form of labor for writers to perform and gave them unprecedented say over the administration of culture, with consequences for poetry’s role in society still felt today.
Ezra Pound and E. E. Cummings carried on a long and varied correspondence from the 1920s until Cummings's death in 1962. This volume collects all of the important letters from this important friendship in the history of modern poetry.
Throughout the correspondence both poets reveal themselves and their beliefs to a remarkable degree. Pound entrusted to Cummings details of his political outlook in the 1930s and 1940s, including his opinions about Mussolini's Italy. The letters to Cummings also shed new light on the question of Pound's sanity after World War II. Although he was diagnosed as mentally unfit, the letters generally show no evidence of paranoia, only of his characteristic eccentricity.
Similarly, these letters should provoke a reevaluation of Cummings. Critics have treated Cummings's political views as either strictly private matters or merely incidental to his art. The letters, however, show that Cummings's radically conservative political opinions are wholly consistent with his poetics, and raise the question of the relation between Cummings's political principles and his enthusiasm for particular forms (and particular stars) of mass entertainment.
In addition to their political revelations, the letters are steeped in the literary climate--and literary gossip--of the times. Pound comments often and candidly on Cummings's poetry and prose; both Pound and Cummings send light verse to each other. And the poets exchange anecdotes about such figures as Henry James, Wyndham Lewis, T. S. Eliot, Edmund Grosse, Max Eastman, and Aldous Huxley, among other writers.
There is much here to interest and delight both fans and foes of Pound and Cummings. The book will be of primary importance to students and scholars of modern poetry, especially those who emphasize the intersection of literary works and political history.
Barry Ahearn is Associate Professor of English, Tulane University.
Edited by Diane Davis University of Illinois Press, 2008 Library of Congress PN75.R65R43 2009 | Dewey Decimal 809
Avital Ronell has won worldwide acclaim for her work across literature and philosophy, psychoanalysis and popular culture, political theory and feminism, art and rhetoric, drugs and deconstruction. In works such as The Test Drive, Stupidity, Crack Wars, and The Telephone Book, she has perpetually raised new and powerful questions about how we think, what thinking does, and how we fool ourselves about the troubled space between thought and action.
In this collection, some of today's most distinguished and innovative thinkers turn their attention to Ronell's teaching, writing, and provocations, observing how Ronell reads and what comes from reading her. By reading Ronell, and reading Ronell reading, contributors examine the ethico-political implications of her radical dislocations and carefully explicate, extend, and explore the paraconcepts addressed in her works.
Lawrence Lipking Harvard University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PR3533.L56 1998 | Dewey Decimal 828.609
Tracing Samuel Johnson's rocky climb from anonymity to fame, in the course of which he came to stand for both the greatness of English literature and the good sense of the common reader, Lipking shows how this life transformed the very nature of authorship.
Scenes of Instruction is the memoir of noted scholar of African American literature Michael Awkward. Structured around the commencement ceremonies that marked his graduations from various schools, it presents Awkward’s coming-of-age as a bookish black male in the projects of 1970s Philadelphia. His relationships with his family and peers, their struggles with poverty and addiction, and his eventual move from underfunded urban schools to a prestigious private school all become parts of a memorable script.
With a recurring focus on how his mother’s tragic weaknesses and her compelling strengths affected his development, Awkward intersperses the chronologically arranged autobiographical sections with ruminations on his own interests in literary and cultural criticism. As a male scholar who has come under fire for describing himself as a feminist critic, he reflects on such issues as identity politics and the politics of academia, affirmative action, and the Million Man March.
By connecting his personal experiences with larger political, cultural, and professional questions, Awkward uses his life as a palette on which to blend equations of race and reading, urbanity and mutilation, alcoholism, pain, gender, learning, sex, literature, and love.
This volume provides a first-hand survey of the arts and literature during a crucial period in modern culture, 1915–1924. Pound was then associated with such germinal magazines as BLAST, The Little Review, The Egoist, and Poetry; he was discovering or publicizing writers such as Robert Frost, Hilda Doolittle, T. S. Eliot, and James Joyce; and he was championing the painters Wyndham Lewis and William Wadsworth as well as the sculptors Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, and Constantin Brancusi. Pound wrote to John Quinn—a New York lawyer, an expert in business law, and a collector of unusual taste and discrimination—about these artists and many more, urging him to support their journals, collect their manuscripts, and buy and exhibit their paintings and sculptures. Quinn at one time owned manuscripts of Ulysses and The Waste Land, Brancusi’s sculpture Mlle. Pogany, and Picasso’s painting Three Musicians. Yet he was often skeptical about the value of new schools of art, such as Vorticism, and disturbed by the outspokenness of authors such as Joyce. Pound’s letters are unusually tactful when he counters Quinn’s doubts and explains the premises of experimental art. Pound’s letters to Quinn are touched with his characteristic humor and wordplay and are especially notable for their lucidity of expression, engendered by Pound’s deep respect for Quinn.
Sites: A Third Memoir
Wallace Fowlie Duke University Press, 1987 Library of Congress PQ67.F65A36 1987 | Dewey Decimal 840.9
Wallace Fowlie here gives us his third book of memoirs—the best yet. Sites is thematically focused on places that marked Fowlie's life and affected his way of looking at the world. This brilliantly written book exhibits great clarity and elegant simplicity, virtues that only an experienced—and good—writer can achieve. Although Sites has a strong unfolding narrative pattern that encourages you to read it from beginning to end, it can be browsed in to good purpose, for you can read any chapter out of sequence and still relish it.
One of the twentieth century’s most original and influential literary theorists, Stanley Fish is also known as a fascinatingly atypical, polarizing public intellectual; a loud, cigar-smoking contrarian; and a lightning rod for both the political right and left. The truth and the limitations of this reputation are explored in Stanley Fish, America’s Enfant Terrible by Gary A. Olson. At once a literary biography and a traditional life story, this engrossing volume details Fish’s vibrant personal life and his remarkably versatile career.
Born into a tumultuous family, Fish survived life with an emotionally absent father and a headstrong mother through street sports and troublemaking as much as through his success at a rigorous prep school. As Olson shows, Fish’s escape from the working-class neighborhoods of 1940s and 1950s Providence, Rhode Island, came with his departure for the university life at the University of Pennsylvania and then Yale. His meteoric rise through the academic ranks at a troubled Vietnam-era UC-Berkeley was complemented by a 1966 romp through Europe that included drag racing through the streets of Seville in his Alfa Romeo. He went on to become an internationally prominent scholar at Johns Hopkins before moving to Duke, where he built a star-studded academic department that became a key site in the culture and theory wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Olson discusses Fish’s tenure as a highly visible dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago who clashed publicly with the state legislature. He also covers Fish’s most remarkable and controversial books, including Fish’s masterpiece, Surprised by Sin: The Reader in "Paradise Lost," which was a critical sensation and forever changed the craft of literary criticism, as well as Professional Correctness and Save the World on Your Own Time, two books that alienated Fish from most liberal-minded professors in English studies.
Olson concludes his biography of Fish with an in-depth analysis of the contradictions between Fish’s public persona and his private personality, examining how impulses and events from Fish’s childhood shaped his lifelong practices and personality traits. Also included are a chronology of the major events of Fish’s life and never-before-published photos.
Based on hundreds of hours of recorded interviews with friends, enemies, colleagues, former students, family members, and Fish himself, along with material from the Stanley Fish archive, Stanley Fish, America’s Enfant Terrible is a clearly written narrative of the life of an important and controversial scholar.
Susan Sontag: A Biography
Daniel Schreiber; Translated from the German by David Dollenmayer Northwestern University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3569.O6547Z87913 2014 | Dewey Decimal 818.5409
Susan Sontag (1933–2004) was one of America’s first celebrity intellectuals. In the first biography to be published since her death, Daniel Schreiber portrays a glamorous woman full of contradictions and inner conflicts, whose life mirrored the cultural upheavals of her time.
While known primarily as a cultural critic and novelist, Sontag was also a filmmaker, stage director, and dramatist. It was her status as a pop icon that was unusual for an American intellectual: she was filmed by Andy Warhol and Woody Allen, photographed by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus, and her likeness adorned advertisements for Absolut vodka. Drawing on newly available sources, including interviews with Nadine Gordimer, Robert Wilson, and Sontag’s son, David Rieff, as well as on myriad interviews given by Sontag and her extensive correspondence with her friend and publisher Roger Straus, Schreiber explores the roles that Sontag played in influencing American public cultural and political conversations.
Thinking en español captures conversations with leading Chicana and Chicano literary critics. This unique book consists of interviews with founding members of Chicano criticism conducted by the author, Jesús Rosales, who, through his conversations with leaders such as Luis Leal, María Herrera-Sobek, Tey Diana Rebolledo, and Juan Rodríguez, shows the path of criticism from 1848 to the present.
The twelve critics interviewed for this project share certain characteristics. For each one, Mexico plays an essential role in his or her personal and academic background, and each is bilingual and bicultural, having received formal literary education in Spanish graduate programs. As products of the working class, each scholar here shares a sense of social consciousness and commitment that lends an urgency to their desire to promote Chicano literature and culture at the local, regional, national, and international levels. They serve as a source of inspiration and commitment for future generations of scholars of Chicano literature and leave a lasting legacy of their own.
Thinking en español legitimizes Chicana/o criticism as an established discipline, and documents the works of some of the most important critics of Chicano literature at the turn of the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. This timely book immortalizes literary historical figures and documents the trajectory of Chicano criticism.
To the Boathouse: A Memoir
Mary Ann Caws University of Alabama Press, 2008 Library of Congress PE64.C39A3 2004 | Dewey Decimal 809
A neat and lavish, if constricting, childhood in the lush landscapes of North Carolina. Summers at a calm, remote beach house. A proper and religiously influenced prep school in Washington. Years at Bryn Mawr, an impulsive study trip to Paris, further education at Yale, married life, and divorced life. These are the settings for Mary Ann Caws’s passionate memoir, in which she recounts the highs and lows of her journey through life. Marked by complicated relationships and a passion for learning, Caws’s story is one that resonates not only with writers like herself, but with all who have struggled with determining their path within the surrounding world.
Caws writes of her formal, stylish parents, her rebellious and deeply admired sister, and her artistic grandmother, whom she respected and idolized more than anyone else. She describes her marriage and subsequent divorce, her bouts with therapy, her children, and her growth as a student and writer. Throughout the memoir is evidence of her love for writing, teaching, art, and poetry as well as her deep respect for the people in her life that ultimately guided her into her career.
Mary Ann Caws describes Southern society and her own life with fondness, nostalgia, and a tinge of honest criticism. The carefully selected details and delicate balance of sentiment and fact bring readers into the fascinating, complicated, and all-too-real world of Caws’s—and our own—past.
“Too Good to Be True” is a comprehensive account of Leslie Fiedler’s life and work. Born in 1917, Fiedler has, in a sense, had four overlapping careers. He first came to prominence as one of the premier Jewish intellectuals of the postwar era—writing on literature, culture, and politics in such magazines as Partisan Review and Commentary. Shortly thereafter, he helped lead the attack that myth criticism was mounting on the hegemony of the New Criticism. If he had stopped writing entirely at that point, Fiedler would still be remembered as an important cultural critic of the fifties.
With his brash, groundbreaking magnum opus, Love and Death in the American Novel, Fiedler next established himself as a revolutionary interpreter of our native literary tradition. Subsequent critics of American literature have been compelled to adopt or attack his positions because to ignore them has been impossible.
Finally, Fiedler was one of the first critics to proclaim the death of modernism and to suggest some of the directions that literature might take in its aftermath. The Oxford English Dictionary credits him with being the first individual to apply the term postmodernism to literature. This alone caused much enmity among those who had built their careers on the assumption that modernism would last forever.
To many academics, Fiedler’s lack of solemnity and his wild flights of imagination have made him appear amateurish. How could anyone who enjoys himself that much possibly be taken seriously? One of the favorite critics of young people and non-English majors, Fiedler has seemed to enjoy remaining disreputable—even as some of his once-controversial views have been made a part of standard or traditional scholarship. Like Huck Finn, returned to the raft from the fog, he often seems “too good to be true.”
Mark Royden Winchell has made his subject come alive in a highly intelligent and critical way. A combination of biography, critical analysis, and cultural history, “Too Good to Be True” will be of great interest to scholars and students of American literature, twentieth-century literary criticism, and popular culture.
Donald Davidson (1893-1968) may well be the most unjustifiably neglected figure in twentieth-century southern literature. One of the most important poets of the Fugitive movement, he also produced a substantial body of literary criticism, the libretto for an American folk opera, a widely used composition textbook, and the recently discovered novel The Big Ballad Jamboree. As a social and political activist, Davidson had significant impact on conservative thought in this century, imfluencing important scholars from Cleanth Brooks to M. E. Bradford.
Despite these accomplishments, Donald Davidson has received little critical attention from either the literary or the southern scholarly community. Where No Flag Flies is Mark Royden Winchell's redress of this critical disservice. A comprehensive intellectual biography of Davidson, this seminal work offers a complete narrative of Davidson's life with all of its triumphs and losses, frustrations and fulfillments.
Winchell provides the reader with more than a simple study of a man and his achievements; he paints a complete portrait of the times in which Davidson published, from the 1930s to the early 1960s. Davidson was more directly involved in political and social activities than most writers of his generation, and Winchell provides the context, both literary and historical, in which Davidson's opinions and works developed. At the same time, Winchell offers detailed evaluations of Davidson's poetry, fiction, historical writings, and essays.
Drawing upon a wealth of previously unpublished archival material, including Davidson's letters and diary, Where No Flag Flies provides unique access to one of the most original minds of the twentieth-century South. Donald Davidson may not have achieved the recognition he deserved, but this remarkable biography finally makes it possible for a considerable literary audience to discover his true achievement.
The cinematic trope of the white savior film-think of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, or Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai--features messianic characters in unfamiliar or hostile settings discovering something about themselves and their culture in the process of saving members of other races from terrible fates.
In The White Savior Film, Matthew Hughey provides a cogent, multipronged analysis of this subgenre of films to investigate the underpinnings of the Hollywood-constructed images of idealized (and often idealistic) white Americans.
Hughey considers the production, distribution, and consumption of white savior films to show how the dominant messages of sacrifice, suffering, and redemption are perceived by both critics and audiences. Examining the content of fifty films, nearly 3,000 reviews, and interviews with viewer focus groups, he accounts for the popularity of this subgenre and its portrayal of "racial progress."
The White Savior Film shows how we as a society create and understand these films and how they reflect the political and cultural contexts of their time.