Using a number of critical approaches, Michael Skau examines Gregory Corso's complex imagination, his humor, and his poetic techniques in dealing with America, the Beat generation, and death.
Skau covers the complete works of Corso, one of the four major Beat Generation writers (with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs) who attempted to provide an alternative to what they saw as the academic forms of literature dominating American writing through the 1940s and 1950s. The Beat option focused on ordinary people, spurning the cultural pretensions of the intelligentsia and using common language as well as the rhythms of actual speech. Corso, abandoned as a child by his mother, subjected to a variety of foster homes, and imprisoned as an adolescent, became an authentic voice of America's neglected streetwise youth. He embodies much of the tension, confusion, and rebellion that emerged in America after World War II and eventually crested in the 1960s.
Corso emphasizes social issues, yet risks undermining this significance by using wit, wordplay, and humor. While conceding mortality, he is adamant in refusing to acknowledge death's power. Even as he rebels against conventional literature, he still is enchanted by classicism and romanticism, often borrowing their techniques and idioms. Skau examines these complexities and seeming contradictions throughout Corso's career, showing that Corso finds value in inconsistency and vacillation. For him, as illustrated in the poems "Hair" and "Marriage," contradiction and ambivalence suggest the foundations of freedom of imagination.
In spite of Corso's significance as an American poet, Skau's is the first extensive study of his work, including his fiction. Skau also provides the first complete bibliography of Corso's published work in more than thirty years.
How did a self-centered "me generation" engage in a student movement that developed into the largest urban protest in modern Chinese history? Searching for Life's Meaning explores the profound changes in the beliefs and values of Chinese youth that occurred during the 1980s and that ultimately led to the confrontation in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Drawing on his own experience as a teacher at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China during the 1980s, as well as exhaustive research, Luo Xu investigates the social and political climate of 1980s China in order to help better define the culture that ultimately drove the events at Tiananmen. Supporting his arguments with solid primary source documents, Xu contends that the contemplation of the meaning of life, along with other philosophical questions, were integral components of the general social crisis leading up to the movement of 1989.
Elegantly written and accessible to a general readership, this study will also be useful to specialists. Searching for Life's Meaning is a concise but detailed introduction to the mentalities of the Chinese generation presently assuming leadership in China. It should be valuable reading in courses on Chinese history and politics, and will be of interest to scholars in the related fields of Asian studies, anthropology, cultural studies, and youth studies. The book will also appeal to business- people and other professionals concerned with managing relations with the world's fastest growing polity.
Luo Xu is Assistant Professor of History, State University of New York College at Cortland.
Could the promise of upward mobility have a dark side? In Tensions in the American Dream, Melanie and Roderick Bush ask, how does a "nation of immigrants" pledge inclusion, yet marginalize so many citizens based on race, class, and gender? The authors consider the origins and development of the U.S. nation and empire; the founding principles of belonging, nationalism, and exceptionalism; and their lived reality.
Tensions in the American Dream also addresses the relevancy of nation to empire in the context of the historical world capitalist system. The authors ask, is the American Dream a reality only questioned by those unwilling or unable to achieve it? What is the "good life" and how is it particularly "American"?
Beginning with the closing decade of European colonial rule in Southeast Asia and covering the wartime Japanese empire and its postwar disintegration, Tensions of Empire focuses on the Japanese in Southeast Asia, Indonesians in Japan, and the legacy of the war in Southeast Asia. It also examines Japanese perceptions of Southeast Asia and the lingering ambivalence toward Japanese involvement in Asia and toward the war in particular.
Drawing on extensive multilingual archival research and interviews, Ken‘ichi Goto has produced a factually rich and balanced view of this region’s historical events of the last century.
Tensions of Empire features detailed discussions of Portuguese Timor in the 1930s and 1940s, the decolonization of Malaya, and twentieth-century Indonesia. This extended inquiry yields a unique view of the complicated network within and beyond the colonial and imperial relationships between a one-time nonwestern colonial power and an entire region.
Of great interest to students of Japan-Southeast Asia relations and to specialists in the modern history of both Southeast Asia and Japan, Professor Goto’s Tensions of Empire is a fascinating account of Japan’s recent past from the inside.