The autobiography of the influential American poet
This intimate and provocative autobiography, first published in 1936, reveals the innermost thoughts of a great American poet. Edgar Lee Masters was a transitional figure in American literature with one foot planted in the nineteenth century and the other firmly placed on the path of what we now think of as the modern period.
Masters expounds on his own development as a poet and as a human being; he shares his views on American culture, politics, and the literary criticism of the times. Masters's friends and acquaintances discussed here include some of the most prominent writers and politicians of his age. And he reflects on his life events that shaped, haunted, and inspired his writings of the classic Spoon River Anthology.
Ireland is suffering from a crisis of authority. Catholic Church scandals, political corruption, and economic collapse have shaken the Irish people’s faith in their institutions and thrown the nation’s struggle for independence into question. While Declan Kiberd explores how political failures and economic globalization have eroded Irish sovereignty, he also sees a way out of this crisis. After Ireland surveys thirty works by modern writers that speak to worrisome trends in Irish life and yet also imagine a renewed, more plural and open nation.After Dublin burned in 1916, Samuel Beckett feared “the birth of a nation might also seal its doom.” In Waiting for Godot and a range of powerful works by other writers, Kiberd traces the development of an early warning system in Irish literature that portended social, cultural, and political decline. Edna O’Brien, Frank O’Connor, Seamus Heaney, and Michael Hartnett lamented the loss of the Irish language, Gaelic tradition, and rural life. Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Eavan Boland grappled with institutional corruption and the end of traditional Catholicism. These themes, though bleak, led to audacious experimentation, exemplified in the plays of Brian Friel and Tom Murphy and the novels of John Banville. Their achievements embody the defiance and resourcefulness of Ireland’s founding spirit—and a strange kind of hope.After Ireland places these writers and others at the center of Ireland’s ongoing fight for independence. In their diagnoses of Ireland’s troubles, Irish artists preserve and extend a humane culture, planting the seeds of a sound moral economy.
Alejo Carpentier was one of the greatest Latin American novelists of the twentieth century, as well as a musicologist, journalist, cultural promoter, and diplomat. His fictional world issues from an encyclopedic knowledge of the history, art, music, and literature of Latin America and Europe. Carpentier’s novels and stories are the enabling discourse of today’s Latin American narrative, and his interpretation of Latin American history has been among the most influential. Carpentier was the first to provide a comprehensive view of Caribbean history that centered on the contribution of Africans, above and beyond the differences created by European cultures and languages. Alejo Carpentier: The Pilgrim at Home, first published in 1977 and updated for this edition, covers the life and works of the great Cuban novelist, offering a new perspective on the relationship between the two.
González Echevarría offers detailed readings of the works La música en Cuba, The Kingdom of This World, The Lost Steps, and Explosion in a Cathedral. In a new concluding chapter, he takes up Carpentier’s last years, his relationship with the Cuban revolutionary regime, and his last two novels, El arpa y la sombra and La consagración de la primavera, in which Carpentier reviewed his life and career.
Alfonso Reyes, the great humanist and man of letters of contemporary Spanish America, began his literary career just before the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. He spearheaded the radical shift in Mexico's cultural and philosophical orientation as a leading member of the famous "Athenaeum Generation."
The crucial years of his literary formation, however, were those he spent in Spain (1914-1924). He arrived in Madrid unknown and unsure of his future. When he left, he had achieved both professional maturity and wide acclaim as a writer. This book has, as its basis, the remarkable correspondence between Reyes and some of the leading spirits of the Spanish intellectual world, covering not only his years in Spain but also later exchanges of letters.
Although Reyes always made it clear that he was a Mexican and a Spanish American, he became a full-fledged member of the closed aristocracy of Spanish literature. It was the most brilliant period in Spain's cultural history since the Golden Age, and it is richly represented here by Reyes' association with five of its most important figures: Miguel de Unamuno and Ramón del Valle-Inclán were of the great "Generation of 98"; among the younger writers were José Ortega y Gasset, essayist and philosopher; the Nobel poet Juan Ramón Jiménez; and Ramón Gómez de la Serna, a precursor of surrealism.
Alfonso Reyes maintained lifelong friendships with these men, and their exchanges of letters are of a dual significance. They reveal how the years in Spain allowed Reyes to pursue his vocation independently, thereby prompting him to seek universal values. Coincidentally, they provide a unique glimpse into the inner world of those friends—and their dreams of a new Spain.
Jad Smith traces the career of the unlikeliest of SF icons. Winner of the first Hugo Award for The Demolished Man, Bester also worked in comics, radio, and TV, and his intermittent SF writing led some critics to brand him a dabbler. In the 1960s, however, New Wave writers championed his work, and his reputation grew. Smith follows Bester's journey from consummate outsider to an artist venerated for foundational works that influenced the New Wave and cyberpunk revolutions. He also explores the little-known roots of a wayward journey fueled by curiosity, disappointment with the SF mainstream, and an artist's determination to go his own way.
Alfred Jarry’s (1873–1907) creation of the monster-tyrant Ubu in his play Ubu Roi was a watershed in theater history and brought him instant notoriety following its Paris premiere in 1896. In this concise, critical biography, Jill Fell explores this and the many achievements that this multi-talented and influential writer and playwright crammed into his short life.
Drawing on numerous anecdotes and the early publications of the Collège de ’Pataphysique, Fell traces Jarry’s growth and influence, as he rapidly established his literary reputation as a prose writer, journalist, art critic, and playwright. Along the way, Fell explores his interaction with a wide cast of avant-garde characters, including Gauguin, Rachilde, Wilde, Beardsley, and Apollinaire. The quarrels that punctuated Jarry’s life—and the extravagance and the drinking that drained his meager wealth—form the background to this portrait of an obsessive writer, committed to his craft and undeterred by his worsening domestic circumstances.
Inthis entertaining biography, Jarry’s spirit and his inventions clearly emerge as an inspiration to the great figures of experimental twentieth-century theatre, art, and literature. Alfred Jarry will inform and delight readers who wish to learn more about this fascinating, unconventional figure.
Allen Tate - American Writers 39 was first published in 1964. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Ambrose Bierce - American Writers 37 was first published in 1964. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
American Humorists - American Writers 42 was first published in 1964. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The American Short Story - American Writers 14 was first published in 1961. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
For a man who liked being called the American, Mark Twain spent a surprising amount of time outside the continental United States. Biographer Roy Morris, Jr., focuses on the dozen years Twain spent overseas and on the popular travel books—The Innocents Abroad, A Tramp Abroad, and Following the Equator—he wrote about his adventures. Unintimidated by Old World sophistication and unafraid to travel to less developed parts of the globe, Twain encouraged American readers to follow him around the world at the dawn of mass tourism, when advances in transportation made leisure travel possible for an emerging middle class. In so doing, he helped lead Americans into the twentieth century and guided them toward more cosmopolitan views.In his first book, The Innocents Abroad (1869), Twain introduced readers to the “American Vandal,” a brash, unapologetic visitor to foreign lands, unimpressed with the local ambiance but eager to appropriate any souvenir that could be carried off. He adopted this persona throughout his career, even after he grew into an international celebrity who dined with the German Kaiser, traded quips with the king of England, gossiped with the Austrian emperor, and negotiated with the president of Transvaal for the release of war prisoners. American Vandal presents an unfamiliar Twain: not the bred-in-the-bone Midwesterner we associate with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer but a global citizen whose exposure to other peoples and places influenced his evolving positions on race, war, and imperialism, as both he and America emerged on the world stage.
The author of more than twenty books and a revered contributor to numerous national publications, Charles Bowden (1945–2014) used his keen storyteller’s eye to reveal both the dark underbelly and the glorious determination of humanity, particularly in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico. In America’s Most Alarming Writer, key figures in his life—including his editors, collaborators, and other writers—deliver a literary wake for the man who inspired them throughout his forty-year career.
Part revelation, part critical assessment, the fifty essays in this collection span the decades from Bowden’s rise as an investigative journalist through his years as a singular voice of unflinching honesty about natural history, climate change, globalization, drugs, and violence. As the Chicago Tribune noted, “Bowden wrote with the intensity of Joan Didion, the voracious hunger of Henry Miller, the feral intelligence and irony of Hunter Thompson, and the wit and outrage of Edward Abbey.” An evocative complement to The Charles Bowden Reader, the essays and photographs in this homage brilliantly capture the spirit of a great writer with a quintessentially American vision. Bowden is the best writer you’ve (n)ever read.
After a century of critical neglect, poet and writer Amy Levy is gaining recognition as a literary figure of stature.
This definitive biography accompanied by her letters, along with the recent publication of her selected writings, provides a critical appreciation of Levy’s importance in her own time and in ours.
As an educated Jewish woman with homoerotic desires, Levy felt the strain of combating the structures of British society in the 1880s, the decade in which she built her career and moved in London’s literary and bohemian circles. Unwilling to cut herself off from her Jewish background, she had the additional burden of attempting to bridge the gap between communities.
In Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters Linda Hunt Beckman examines Levy’s writings and other cultural documents for insight into her emotional and intellectual life. This groundbreaking study introduces us to a woman well deserving of a place in literary and cultural history.
The only collection of all known letters of Christopher Smart provides the best psychological explanation to date of that complex and elusive eighteenth-century poet.
The significant characteristics that distinguish Smart’s prose letters from his poetry, Betty Rizzo and Robert Mahony note, are that his letters were requests for assistance while his verses were bequests, gifts in which he set great store. Indeed, it was Smart’s lifelong conviction that he was a poet of major importance.
As Smart biographer Karina Williamson notes, "The splendidly informative and vivaciously written accounts of the circumstances surrounding each letter, or group of letters, add up to what is in effect a miniature biography."
Biographers of American playwright Eugene O'Neill have been quick to label his marriage to actress Carlotta Monterey as the defining relationship of his illustrious career. But in doing so, they overlook the woman whom Monterey replaced---Agnes Boulton, O'Neill's wife of over a decade and mother to two of his children. O'Neill and Boulton were wed in 1918---a time when she was a successful pulp novelist and he was still a little-known writer of one-act plays. During the decade of their marriage, he gained fame as a Broadway dramatist who rejected commercial compromise, while she mapped that contentious territory known as the literary marriage. His writing reflected her, and hers reflected him, as they tried to realize progressive ideas about what a marriage should be. But after O'Neill left the marriage, he and new love Carlotta Monterey worked diligently to put Boulton out of sight and mind---and most O'Neill biographers have been quick to follow suit.
William Davies King has brought Agnes Boulton to light again, providing new perspectives on America's foremost dramatist, the dynamics of a literary marriage, and the story of a woman struggling to define herself in the early twentieth century. King shows how the configuration of O'Neill and Boulton's marriage helps unlock many of O'Neill's plays. Drawing on more than sixty of Boulton's published and unpublished writings, including her 1958 memoir, Part of a Long Story, and an extensive correspondence, King rescues Boulton from literary oblivion while offering the most radical revisionary reading of the work of Eugene O'Neill in a generation.
William Davies King is Professor of Theater at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of several books, most recently Collections of Nothing, chosen by Amazon.com as one of the Best Books of 2008.
Illustration: Eugene O'Neill, Shane O'Neill, and Agnes Boulton ca. 1923. Eugene O'Neill Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
This anthology comprises reminiscences by a number of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s contemporaries, including the artist Konstantin Korovin, the writer Maxim Gorky, and Chekhov’s wife, Olga Knipper-Chekhova, and numerous letters written by Chekhov to his fellow writers and artists, family, publishers, and others.
Now available for the first time in English in America, these sixty-eight letters and ten essay-length reminiscences trace the development of Chekhov’s personality and talent, opening a window into the life and times of one of the world’s greatest short-story writers and playwrights. These perspectives on his family life and marriage, his early works, the stage productions of his plays, his literary successes, and the philosophies behind his writing create a rich biography of Chekhov that will reward writers, scholars, and all lovers of literature.
The extraordinary actor–director–writer who developed his talent for self-torture into art to become one of the most vital creative forces of the century.
While the later work of the great Modernist poet Marianne Moore was hugely popular during her final two decades, since her death critics have condemned it as trivial. This book challenges that assessment: with fresh readings of many of the late poems and of the iconic, cross-dressing public persona Moore developed to deliver them, Apparition of Splendor demonstrates that Moore used her late-life celebrity in daring and innovative ways to activate egalitarian principles that had long animated her poetry. Dressed as George Washington in cape and tricorn and writing about accessible topics like sports, TV shows, holidays, love, activism, mortality and celebrity itself, she reached a wide cross-section of Americans, encouraging them to consider what democracy means in their daily lives, particularly around issues of gender, sexuality, racial integration, class, age, and immigration. Moore actively sought out publication in popular venues (like Vogue, The New Yorker, and the Saturday Evening Post, etc.) and wrote on material chosen to directly appeal to the audiences there, influencing younger contemporaries, including poets like Ashbery, O’Hara, and Bishop, and artists like Warhol, Yoko Ono, and Ray Johnson.
Archibald MacLeish - American Writers 99 was first published in 1971. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Autobiographical literature especially reveals the processes by which writers convert their own historical experience into fictional form and suggests how literary forms function in life. This volume defines an original theory of autobiographical writing and provides intriguing analyses of major American works of literature.
The Art of Life examines the transformation of history into literature in Walden, "Song of Myself," Henry James's Prefaces, The Education of Henry Adams, Paterson, and the poetry of Frank O'Hara. These works are approached as events in themselves and are analyzed as conversions of form and history, fiction and fact, and even aesthetics and politics. Thus the work of literature is set in the total experience of living, and the writer is seen not only as an artist but also as a person in a historical, political, and cultural environment. As well as a creator of literature, the writer is viewed as a social, psychological, and biological being.
Chapters on the narcissistic economy of Walden, the mythicizing of history and personality in "Song of Myself," the self-conscious relation that makes the Prefaces of Henry James the autobiography of an artist. the comic perspective of The Education of Henry Adams, and the radical innovation of Paterson and O'Hara's poetry provide new readings of major American works. Each chapter contains some distinct critical insight which not only contributes to, but can be relished apart from, the book's overarching theoretical argument.
The Art of Life is a sophisticated theoretical discussion of autobiography with rich psychological, philosophical, and cultural ramifications.
Gary Westfahl closely examines Clarke's remarkable career, ranging from his forgotten juvenilia to the passages he completed for a final novel, The Last Theorem. As Westfahl explains, Clarke’s science fiction offered original perspectives on subjects like new inventions, space travel, humanity’s destiny, alien encounters, the undersea world, and religion. While not inclined to mysticism, Clarke necessarily employed mystical language to describe the fantastic achievements of advanced aliens and future humans. Westfahl also contradicts the common perception that Clarke’s characters were bland and underdeveloped, arguing that these reticent, solitary individuals, who avoid conventional relationships, represent his most significant prediction of the future, as they embody the increasingly common lifestyle of people in the twenty-first century.
Arthur Miller - American Writers 40 was first published in 1964. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
“It is quite incorrect to believe that the dead are gone forever and never return to speak to the living. They return to speak to the living all the time; indeed, it is their main activity.” Thus writes Sylvie Weil in this illuminating memoir, in which contemporary readers can hear the voices of her famed philosopher aunt Simone and mathematician father André.
Born into a freethinking Jewish family in France in 1909, Simone Weil was one of the twentieth century’s most original philosophers, influencing Albert Camus, T. S. Eliot, Simone de Beauvoir, Pope John XXIII, Czesław Miłosz, and Susan Sontag. She fought for workers’ rights and, later, the Spanish Republican cause. Before her death at age thirty-four, Simone Weil turned increasingly to mysticism and religion, especially Roman Catholicism, exploring themes of sacrifice, asceticism, and the virtues of manual labor. She never converted, however, and Sylvie Weil writes from a Jewish perspective, emphasizing Simone’s Jewish heritage.
Using previously unpublished family correspondence and conversations, Sylvie Weil paints the most vivid, private portrait of her aunt in print. The book illuminates Simone’s relationship with others, especially with her brother, André. Loving and unsparing, affectionate and incisive, At Home with André and Simone Weil is an insightful memoir about a family of intellectual luminaries.
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