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    Modern american literature vol 3 5th ed Modern american literature vol 3 5th ed Document Transcript

    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Volume III • P–Z Fifth Edition ST. JAMES PRESS A N I M P R I N T O F G A L E DETROIT • LONDON
    • Joann Cerrito and Laurie DiMauro, Editors Laura Standley Berger, Dave Collins, Nicolet V. Elert, Miranda Ferrara, Kristin Hart, Margaret Mazurkiewicz, Michael J. Tyrkus St. James Press Staff Peter M. Gareffa, Managing Editor, St. James Press Mary Beth Trimper, Production Director Deborah Milliken, Production Assistant Cynthia Baldwin, Product Design Manager Eric Johnson, Art Director Victoria B. Cariappa, Research Manager Michele P. LaMeau, Research Specialist While every effort has been made to ensure the reliability of the information presented in this publication, St. James Press does not guarantee the accuracy of the data contained herein. St. James Press accepts no payment for listing; and inclusion of any organization, agency, institution, publication, service, or individual does not imply endorsement of the editors or publisher. Errors brought to the attention of the publisher and verified to the satisfaction of the publisher will be corrected in future editions. This publication is a creative work fully protected by all applicable copyright laws, as well as by misappropriation, trade secret, unfair competition, and other applicable laws. The authors and editors of this work have added value to the underlying factual material herein through one or more of the following: unique and original selection, coordination, expression, arrangement, and classification of the information. All rights to this publication will be vigorously defended. Copyright © 1999 St. James Press 27500 Drake Road Farmington Hills, MI 48331 All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Modern American Literature.—5th ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Contents: v. 1. A-G — v. 2. H-O — v. 3. P-Z ISBN 1-55862-379-5 (set). — ISBN 1-55862-380-9 (v. 1). — ISBN 1-55862-381-7 (v. 2). — ISBN 1-55862-382-5 (v. 3). 1. American literature—20th century—History and criticism. PS221.M53 1998 810.9′005—dc21 98-38952 CIP Printed in the United States of America St. James Press is an imprint of Gale 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
    • FOREWORD TO THE FIFTH EDITION This new edition of Modern American Literature represents a significant advancement in the series. These volumes collate all entries from the original three volumes of the fourth edition, published in 1960, with entries from the three supplements published in 1976, 1985, and 1997, so that all excerpts on a given author now appear in one place. Seventy new entries have been added, bringing the total number of authors discussed to 489, and bibliographies for all authors have been updated. In addition, the format has been simplified. Citations for journal articles now include the full source title, eliminating the need for the abbreviation key used in previous editions, and bibliographies now immediately follow author entries, rather than appearing in a separate section at the back of the book. The compilers of this edition have built upon the notable efforts of previous editors, each of whom made significant contributions and additions. As in the past, entrants in the series, as well as the sources chosen for excerpting, have been carefully selected to provide broad and instructive overviews of the most significant authors of the modern period in American literature. New authors for this edition have been selected not only on the basis of their prominence but also on their presence in the contemporary curriculum. The richly diverse nature of American letters is reflected in the wide variety of genres represented, from the humorous contemporary tales of Andrei Codrescu to the contemplative nature essays of Annie Dillard to the literary and philosophical speculations of George Steiner. In addition, a concerted effort was made to broaden the cultural scope of the series by presenting discussion of the works of black, Hispanic, and Native American authors, including a number from earlier in this century whose works have until recently been undervalued or ignored, figures such as William Stanley Braithwaite, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Alain Locke. As in previous editions, every effort has been made to cull from brief reviews as well as lengthy critical evaluations, and from a wide variety of critical perspectives, showing wherever possible the evolution of an author’s reputation and stature. The function of this work continues to be the illumination of the works of American authors through the presentation of significant analyses. With its greater focus on multicultural authors and its streamlined format, this new edition will be even more useful to students and other researchers seeking critical perspectives on the most significant American writers of the twentieth century. The editors would like to thank the many individuals and publishers who have generously granted permission to reprint their materials here. v
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The editors wish to thank the copyright holders of the excerpted criticism included in this edition and the permissions managers of many book and magazine publishing companies for assisting us in securing reproduction rights. We are also grateful to the staffs of the Detroit Public Library, the Library of Congress, the University of Detroit Mercy Library, Wayne State University Purdy/Kresge Library Complex, and the University of Michigan Libraries for making their resources available to us. Following is a list of the copyright holders who have granted us permission to reproduce material in Modern American Literature. Every effort has been made to trace copyright, but if omissions have been made, please let us know. A & W Publishers, Inc. From The World of Raymond Chandler, Miriam Gross, ed. Reprinted by permission of A & W Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 1977 by Weidenfeld and Nicholson. ‘‘The Illusion of the Real,’’ copyright © 1971 by Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor. Abyss Publications. From Hugh Fox, Charles Bukowski: A Critical and Bibliographical Study. Hazard Adams. From article on Stafford in Poetry. Phoebe Lou Adams. From article on Kinnell’s Black Light in The Atlantic Monthly. John W. Aldridge. From After the Lost Generation, published 1951 by McGraw-Hill Book Co. (Vidal). Used by permission of the author. Charles Altieri. From article on F. O’Hara in The Iowa Review. Amerasia Journal. Excerpt from ‘‘In the Shadows of a Diva: Committing Homosexuality in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly,’’ by David L. Eng from Amerasia Journal 20:1, © 1994. Excerpt from ‘‘Approaches to Teaching Kingston’s The Woman Warrior,’’ by Hardy C. Wilcoxon from Amerasia Journal © 1994. America. From article by Elizabeth M. Woods on Wilder. Copyright©1973 by America Press. Reprinted with permission of America. All rights reserved; James Finn Cotter on Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of America Press, Inc. © 1976. All rights reserved; James Finn Cotter on Merwin. Reprinted with permission of America Press, Inc. © 1983. All rights reserved; ‘‘William Kennedy’’ by James E. Rocks. Reprinted with permission of America Press, Inc., 106 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019. © 1994. All Rights Reserved. ‘‘T. Coraghessan Boyle’’ by David Johnson. Reprinted with permission of America Press, Inc., 106 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019. © 1994. All Rights Reserved. ‘‘Richard Bausch’’ by John Desmond. Reprinted with permission of America Press, Inc., 106 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019. © 1994. All Rights Reserved. ‘‘Louise Erdrich’’ by John Desmond. Reprinted with permission of America Press, Inc., 106 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019. © 1994. All Rights Reserved. ‘‘John Updike’’ by Lewis A. Turlish. Reprinted with permission of America Press, Inc., 106 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019. © 1994. All Rights Reserved; v. 150, June 23-30, 1984. © 1984. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of America Press, Inc., 106 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019. The American Book Collector. From ‘‘The Search of an American Catholic Novel’’ by Bruce Cook, American Libraries, October 1973, page 549; copyrighted 1973 by the American Library Association. Reprinted by permission of the American Library Association (Sheed). American Book Review. From article by Michael Benedikt on Ignatow; Candelaria, C. J. S. Baca. Illinois: American Book Review, 1990. Reprinted with permission. Weinreich, R. William Burroughs. Illinois: American Book Review, 1988. Reprinted with permission. White, Curtis. Stephen Dixon. Illinois: American Book Review, 1989. Reprinted with permission. Klinkowitz, J. Stephen Dixon. Illinois: American Book Review, 1989. Reprinted with permission. Spencer, Norman. Henry Louis Gates. Illinois: American Book Review, 1990. Reprinted with permission. Lenhart, Gary. Alfred Chester. Illinois: American Book Review, 1994. Reprinted with permission. Bingham, Sallie. Alice Walker. Illinois: vii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE American Book Review, 1990. Reprinted with permission. Siegle, Robert. Walter Abish. Illinois: American Book Review, 1994. Reprinted with permission. Natt, Rochelle. May Swenson. Illinois: American Book Review, 1995. Reprinted with permission. V. 3, November-December, 1980; v. 14, December, 1992-January, 1993. © 1980, 1992-93 by The American Book Review. Both reproduced by permission. American Examiner: A Forum of Ideas. From article by Bruce Curtis on Kopit. American Humour. From article by T. Jeff Evans on De Vries. American Library Association. From Richard K. Barksdale, Langston Hughes: The Poet and His Critics, reprinted by permission of the American Library Association, copyright © 1977 by the American Library Association. American Literature. Alexander Marshall, ‘‘William Faulkner: The Symbolist Connection.’’ American Literature, 59:3 (October 1987), pp. 389–401. Copyright Duke University Press, 1987. Reprinted with permission. Jackson J. Benson, ‘‘Ernest Hemingway: The Life as Fiction and the Fiction as Life,’’ American Literature, 61:3 (October 1989), pp. 345–58. Copyright Duke University Press, 1989. Reprinted with permission. Mark Van Wienen, ‘‘Taming the Socialist: Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems and Its Critics,’’ American Literature, 63:1 (March 1991), pp. 89–103. Copyright Duke University Press, 1991. Reprinted with permission. Catherine Rainwater, ‘‘Reading Between Worlds: Narrativity in the Fiction of Louise Erdrich.’’ American Literature, 62:3 (September 1990), pp. 405–22. Copyright Duke University Press, 1990. Reprinted with permission. Terri Witek, ‘‘Robert Lowell’s Tokens of the Self.’’ American Literature, 63:4 (December 1991), pp. 712–28. Copyright Duke University Press, 1991. Reprinted with permission. Laura E. Tanner, ‘‘Reading Rape: Sanctuary and The Women of Brewster Place.’’ American Literature, 62:4 (December 1990), pp. 559–83. Copyright Duke University Press, 1990. Reprinted with permission. Forrest G. Robinson. ‘‘A Combat with the Past: Robert Penn Warren on Race and Slavery,’’ American Literature, 67:3 (September 1995), pp. 511–30. Copyright Duke University Press, 1995. Reprinted with permission. Barbara Foley, ‘‘Jean Toomer’s Sparta,’’ American Literature, 67:4 (December 1995), pp. 747–76. Copyright Duke University Press, 1995. Reprinted with permission; v. 51, March, 1979. Copyright © 1979 Duke University Press, Durham, NC. Reproduced with permission. American Notes and Queries. Excerpts from article on Robert Lowell by Jeffrey Meyers which appeared in American Notes and Queries. Copyright © 1990 by Erasmus Press. The American Poetry Review. From articles by Robert Coles on Rukeyser, Frederick Garber on Stafford, Alicia Ostriker on Swenson, Alvin H. Rosenfeld on Ammons, Paul Zweig on Ignatow, Kevin Stein on James Wright, which appeared in American Poetry Review. Reprinted with permission of The American Poetry Review and the authors. From v. 5, May-June, 1976 for "Marvin Bell: Time’s Determinant/Once, I Knew You” by Arthur Oberg; v. 8, November-December, 1979 for a review of “Ashes and 7 Years from Somewhere” by Dave Smith. Copyright © 1976, 1979 by World Poetry, Inc. Both reproduced by permission of the respective authors. The American Scholar. From Shaun O’Connell, ‘‘So It Goes’’ Reprinted from The American Scholar, Volume 38, No. 4, Autumn, 1969. Copyright© 1969 by the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa (Vonnegut); Mark Schorer, ‘‘Novels and Nothingness’’ Reprinted from The American Scholar, Volume 40, No. 1, Winter, 1970–71. Copyright© 1971 by the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa (Didion); Susan J. Turner, ‘‘The Anderson Papers.’’ Reprinted from The American Scholar, Volume 39, No. 1, Winter 1969–70. Copyright © 1970 by the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa (Anderson); Philip Kopper, ‘‘On the Campus.’’ Reprinted from The American Scholar, 36, 4 (Autumn 1967). Copyright © 1967 by the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. By permission of the publishers (Theroux); ‘‘Modeling My Father,’’ by Alexander Nemerov. Reprinted from The American Scholar, Volume 62, No. 4, Autumn 1993. Copyright © 1993 by the author. American Studies. From article by David M. Fine on Cain. By permission of American Studies and the author. American Theatre Association. From articles by Michael C. O’Neill on Kopit, Craig Werner on Rabe, from Educational Theatre Journal and Theatre Journal. viii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Américas. From Lee Holland, ‘‘Homer and the Dragon.’’ Reprinted from Américas monthly magazine published by the General Secretariat of the Organization of Americans States in English, Spanish, and Portuguese (Bukowski). The Americas Review, v. XVI, Summer, 1988. Copyright © 1988 The Americas Review. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. A. R. Ammons. From article on Strand in Poetry. Anaya, Rudolfo A. From an introduction to The Last of the Menu Girls. By Denise Chavez. Arte Publico Press, 1986. Copyright © 1986 by Arte Publico Press. Reproduced by permission. The Antioch Review. From article by David Bosworth on Vonnegut, Copyright © 1979 by The Antioch Review, Inc. First appeared in The Antioch Review, 37, 1 (Winter 1979). Reprinted by permission of the editors; for Saari, Jon. William Styron. Copyright © 1994 by the Antioch Review, Inc. First Appeared in the Antioch Review, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Winter 1994); v. XL, Spring, 1982. Copyright © 1982 by the Antioch Review Inc. Reproduced by permission of the Editors. Archon Books. From G. H. Douglas, H.L. Mencken: Critic of American Life. Ardis Publications. From W. W. Rowe, Nabokov’s Spectral Dimension, © 1981 by Ardis Publications. Arizona Quarterly. Selinger, Eric, ‘‘John Ashbery.’’ Winter 1991, p. 114. Reprinted with permission of Arizona Quarterly. Elliott, Emory, ‘‘Robert Stone,’’ Autumn 1987, p. 201. Reprinted with permission of Arizona Quarterly. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd. From Brian Way, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Art of Social Fiction, by permission of the publishers. Art and Literature. From article by Bill Berkson on F. O’Hara Arte Publico Press. From Retrospace by Juan Bruce-Novoa is reprinted with permission from the publisher (Houston: Arte Publico Press-University of Houston). 1990. Art In America. From article by Morton Feldman on F. O’Hara. Art News. From article by John Ashbery on F. O’Hara. Robert Asahina. From article on Rabe in Theatre. Associated Faculty Press, Inc. From Gary Q. Arpin, The Poetry of John Berryman (Kennikat Press, 1978, reprinted by permission of Associated Faculty Press, Inc.); article by Karen Sinclair in Ursula K. Le Guin: Voyager to Inner Lands and to Outer Space, Joe De Bolt, ed. (Kennikat Press. 1979, reprinted by permission of Associated Faculty Press, Inc.): Evelyn Gross Avery. Rebels and Victims: The Fiction of Richard Wright and Bernard Malamud (Kennikat Press. 1979, reprinted by permission of Associated Faculty Press, Inc. (Malamud). Associated University Presses. From article by Willard Thorpe on Gordon in Bucknell Review; essay by Emily Mitchell Wallace in William Carlos Williams, Charles Angoff, ed., published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; from Carol Wershoven, The Female Intruder in the Novels of Edith Wharton, published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; Leonard Chabrowe, Ritual and Pathos: The Theatre of O’Neill, published by Bucknell University Press; Harry Williams, ‘‘The Edge Is What I Have,’’ Theodore Roethke and After, published by Bucknell University Press (Roethke); from Charles Altieri, Enlarging the Temple: New Directions in American Poetry during the 1960s, published by Bucknell University Press (Duncan). The Atheneum Publishers, Inc. From Alone with America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States since 1950 by Richard Howard. Copyright © 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 by Richard Howard (Ammons, Goodman, Meredith); from Margaret Brenman-Gibson, Clifford Odets, American Playwright: The Years ix
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE from 1906 to 1940. Copyright © ©1981 by Margaret Brenman-Gibson. Reprinted with the permission of Atheneum Publishers. The Atlantic Monthly. From Phoebe Adams, ‘‘Portpourri.’’ Copyright © 1966, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. (Kinnell); X.J. Kennedy, ‘‘Translations from the American.’’ Copyright © 1973, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. (Merrill); Melvin Maddocks, ‘‘Paleface Takeover.’’ Copyright © 1973, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass, (Gardner); William Barrett, ‘‘Reader’s Choice, ’’ Copyright © 1962 by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. (J. Williams); William Barrett, ‘‘Reader’s Choice,’’ Copyright © 1962 by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. (Price); Peter Davison, ‘‘The New Poetry,’’ Copyright © 1962 by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. (Hollander); Peter Davison. ‘‘New Poets,’’ Copyright © 1963 by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. (Swenson). Reprinted with permission. James C. Austin. From ‘‘Sinclair Lewis and Western Humor’’ in American Dreams, American Nightmares, David Madden, ed. George W. Bahlke. From The Late Auden. Houston A. Baker, Jr. From article on Johnson in The Virginia Quarterly Review. Howard Baker. From essay in Sense and Sensibility in Twentieth-Century Writing, Brom Weber, ed. (Porter); article on Gordon in The Southern Review. Frank Baldanza. From article on Federic in The Southern Review. Bantam Books, Inc. From Introduction by Richard Gilman to Sam Shepard: Seven Plays. Introduction copyright © 1981 by Bantam Books, Inc. By permission of Bantam Books, Inc. All rights reserved. A. S. Barnes. From Bernard Sherman, The Invention of the Jew, published by Thomas Yoseloff (Fuchs). Barnes & Noble. From Stephen D. Adams, James Purdy. Rebecca Charmers Barton. From Witnesses for Freedom (Hurston). Basic Books, Inc. From Introduction by Quentin Anderson et al., eds., to Art, Politics, and Will: Essays in Honor of Lionel Trilling. Copyright © 1977 by Basic Books, Inc. John Gardner, On Moral Fiction. Copyright © 1978 by Basic Books, Inc. (Updike). Beacon Press. From Stealing the Language by Alicia Suskin Ostriker. Copyright © 1986 by Alicia Suskin Ostriker. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston. Calvin Bedient. From articles on West, on Oates in Partisan Review. Belles Lettres: A Review of Books by Women, v. 10, Fall, 1994; v. 10, Spring, 1995. Both reproduced by permission. Alfred Bendixen and Annette Zilversmit for Zilversmit on Wharton. Bernard Bergonzi. From article on Warren in The Southern Review. Best Sellers, v. 35, June, 1975. Copyright 1975, by the University of Scranton. Reproduced by permission. Elizabeth Bishop. From essay in Randall Jarrell 1914–1965, Robert Lowell, Peter Taylor, Robert Penn Warren, eds. Stephen A. Black, for the excerpt from his article on Thurber in University Review, Summer, 1966, which also appears in his book, James Thurber, His Masquerades (Mouton & Co.). x
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Black American Literature Forum. From articles by William H. Hansell on Hayden, Trudier Harris on Walker, Jack Hicks on Gaines; v. 24, Summer, 1990 for "W.E.B. Du Bois’s Autobiography and the Politics of Literature” by William E. Cain. Reproduced by permission of the authors. Black Sparrow Press. From Ekbert Faas, Towards a New American Poetics: Essays and Interviews. Copyright © 1978 by Ekbert Fass. By permission of Black Sparrow Press (Snyder). Excerpts from Looking for Genet: Literary Essays and Reviews by Alfred Chester. Copyright © 1992 by Herman Chester and reprinted with the permission of Black Sparrow Press. Gus Blaisdell. From article on Connell in New Mexico Quarterly. Robert Bly. From article on Ignatow in The Sixties. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. From essays by Jacques Levy, by Michael Smith in Five Plays by Sam Shepard, Copyright © 1967 by Sam Shepard; essay by Elizabeth Hardwick in La Turista by Sam Shepard, Copyright © 1968 by Sam Shepard. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, the Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Boise State University. From Harry Russell Huebel, Jack Kerouac, Boise State University Western Writers Series. Bowling Green State University Popular Press. From Peter Wolfe, Beams Falling: The Art of Dashiell Hammett; article by Susan Wood on Le Guin in Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers, Vol. 2, Thomas D. Clareson, ed. Bone, Robert. From Down Home: A History of Afro-American Short Fiction from Its Beginnings to the End of the Harlem Renaissance. Columbia University Press, 1988. Copyright © 1975 by Columbia University Press. Copyright © 1975 by Robert Bone. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the publisher. From The Negro Novel in America. Revised edition. Yale University Press, 1965. Copyright © 1965 by Yale University. Copyright © renewed by Robert A. Bone in 1985. All rights reserved. Excerpted by permission of the author. Book Week. For generous permission to reprint numerous excerpts from articles. Book World-The Washington Post, August 11, 1974 by Doris Grumbach; August 5, 1984 for "Poets of Innocence and Experience" by Joel Conarroe. © 1974 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group. Reproduced by permission of Russell & Volkeining, Inc. as agents for Doris Grumbach and by Joel Conarroe. Georges Borchardt. Excerpts from Automatic Vaudeville by John Lahr. Copyright © 1984 and reprinted with the permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. Fred W. Bornhauser. From ‘‘Poetry by the Poet,’’ in The Virgina Quarterly Review (Kinnell, Meredith). Boulevard. Excerpts from ‘‘Autobiographies of the Present’’ by Thomas Larson. Copyright © 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Boulevard. Bowling Green State University Press. Excerpts from Two Guns From Harlem by Robert E. Skinner. Copyright © 1989 and reprinted with the permission of Bowling Green State University Press. Bowling Green University Popular Press. From David H. Goldsmith, Kurt Vonnegut. Robert Boyers. For article on Plath in The Centennial Review. Brandt & Brandt Literary Agents, Inc.. From Gilbert A. Harrison, The Enthusiast: A Life of Thornton Wilder, copyright © 1983 by Gilbert A. Harrison. Reprinted by permission of Ticknor and Fields, a Hougton Mifflin company. George Braziller, Inc. From American Drama since 1918 by Joseph Wood Krutch; reprinted with the permission of the publisher. © 1939, 1957 by Joseph Wood Krutch; from Character and Opinion in the United States by George Santayana; reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Copyright © 1955 by xi
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE George Braziller, Inc.; from R. Buckminster Fuller by John McHale; reprinted with permission of the publisher. Copyright © 1962 by George Braziller, Inc. Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Jr. From article on O’Connor in The Southern Review. John Malcolm Brinnin. From article on Plath in Partisan Review. John Brockman Associates. From Janice S. Robinson, H. D.: The Life and Work of an American Poet. David Bromwitch. From article on Sexton in Poetry. Cleanth Brooks. From article on Percy in The Southern Review. Peter Brooks. From essay in Romanticism: Vistas, Instances, Continuities, David Thorburn and Geoffrey H. Hartman, eds., originally in Paristan Review (H. James). Curtis Brown, Ltd. From foreword by Maxine Kumin to The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton. Merle E. Brown. From Wallace Stevens: The Poem as Act. Robert Brustein. From articles on Kopit, Guare, Mamet, L. Wilson in The New Republic. Jerry H. Bryant. From articles on Gaines in Iowa Review, on Baldwin in Phylon. Callaloo. From article by Todd Duncan on Gaines. Cambridge University Press. From Jean Chothia, Forging a Language: A Study of the Plays of Eugene O’Neill; A. D. Moody, Thomas Stearns Eliot, Poet; article by A. Robert Lee on Himes in Journal of American Studies; article by John S. Whitley on Hammett from Journal of American Studies. Excerpts from Hart Crane: The Context of ‘‘The Bridge’’ by Paul Giles. Copyright © 1986 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from Modernism, Mass Culture and Professionalism by Thomas Strychacz. Copyright © 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from New Essays on the Sun Also Rises by Linda Wagner-Martin (ed.). Copyright © 1987 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from The Cliffs of Solitude: A Reading of Robinson Jeffers by Robert Zeller. Copyright © 1983 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from The Poetry of Marianne Moore by Margaret Holley. Copyright © 1987 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from New Essays on ‘‘The Grapes of Wrath’’ by David Wyatt (ed.). Copyright © 1990 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from The Long Poems of Wallace Stevens by Rajeev S. Patke. Copyright © 1985 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from Modernist Quartet by Frank Lentricchia. Copyright © 1994 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from Elizabeth Bishop’s Poetics of Intimacy by Victoria Harrison. Copyright © 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from Elizabeth Bishop: The Biography of a Poet by Lorrie Goldensohn. Copyright © 1992 by Cambridge University Press and reprinted with the permission of the author. Excerpts from T. S. Eliot and Ideology by Kenneth Asher, Copyright © 1995 and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry by A. K. Weatherhead. Copyright © 1986 by Axelrod, Steven and Deese, Helen (eds.) and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from New Essays on the Crying of Lot 49 by Bernard Duyfhuizen. Copyright © 1991 by Patrick O’Donnell (ed.) and reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from The Revolution in the Visual Arts and the Poetry of William Carlos Williams by Peter Halter. Copyright © 1994. Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpts from Elizabeth Bishop’s Poetics of Intimacy by Victoria Harrison. Copyright © 1993. Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Jonathan Cape Ltd. Tony Tanner, City of Words (Barth, Burroughs). The Carleton Miscellany. From article by David Galler on Nemerov. John R. Carpenter. From article on Snyder, Wakoski, in Poetry. xii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Paul Carroll. From The Poem in Its Skin (Ashbery, F. O’Hara). Hayden Carruth. From articles on Berryman in Nation; on Bogan, on Merwin, on Schwartz, on Van Doren in Poetry. Turner Cassity. From article on Howard in Poetry. Catholic World. From article by Riley Hughes on Connell. The Centennial Review. From article by Robert Boyers on Plath; Nicolaus Mills on Kesey; Cynthia Davis on Barth, Bernard Duffey on Sandburg. Chicago Review. From ‘‘The Small, Sad World of James Purdy’’ by Paul Herr, published in Chicago Review, volume 14, Number 3, p. 19. Copyright © 1960 by Chicago Review; from articles by Bernard F. Rodgers, Jr., on Doctorow, H. C. Ricks on P. Bowles, Carl E. Rollyson, Jr., on Mailer, Linda Shell Bergmann on Reed, Richard Burgin on Singer, Robert von Hallberg on Snodgrass. Used by permission of the editors. For ‘‘Cynthia Ozick at the End of the Modern’’ by Andrew Lakritz. Copyright © 1994 Reprinted by permission of Chicago Review. Chicago Tribune. For generous permission to reprint numerous excerpts from articles in Book World, Chicago Sunday Tribune Book Review; and September 13, 1987 for "Childhood Relived” by Catherine Petroski. © copyrighted 1987, Chicago Tribune Company. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author. The Christian Century Foundation, for the excerpt from the review (of Thomas Merton’s Disputed Questions) by C. Eugene Conover, copyright © 1961 Christian Century Foundation. Reprinted by permission from the January 18, 1961 issue of The Christian Century. For ‘‘Kesey and Vonnegut: Preachers of Redemption’’ by James Tunnell. Copyright © 1972 Christian Century Foundation. Reprinted by permission from the November 22, 1972 issue of The Christian Century (Kesey); for review of Henry Louis Gates’s Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars by John Ottenhoff. Copyright © 1994 Christian Century Foundation. Reprinted by permission from the January 19, 1994 issue of The Christian Century. The Christian Science Monitor. From articles by Victor Howes on Fuller, on Gardner, on Howard, on Snyder, on Stafford. Copyright © 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 The Christian Science Publishing Society; Robert Kiely on Sheed. Copyright © 1965 The Christian Science Publishing Society; Melvin Maddocks on Didion. Copyright © 1968 The Christian Science Publishing Society; Frederick Nordell on Bly. Copyright © 1963 The Christian Science Publishing Society. Excerpted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; November 10, 1955. Copyright 1955, renewed 1983 by The Christian Science Publishing Society. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission from The Christian Science Monitor./ September 4, 1992 for "As Others See The Vietnamese" by Kathleen Kilgore. © 1992 Kathleen Kilgore. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author. CLA Journal. From articles by W. Edward Farrison on Hansberry, on Toomer; by Lance Jeffers on Bullins; v. XV, June, 1972; v. 16, September, 1972, copyright, 1972 by The College Language Association. Reproduced by permission of The College Language Association. Leonard Clark. From article on Zukofsky in Poetry Review. Gerald Clarke. From article on Vidal in The Atlantic. John Clayton. From article on Brautigan in New American Review. Samuel Coale. From article in John Gardner: Critical Perspectives, Robert A. Morace and Kathryn Van Spankeren, eds. College and University Press. From Charles B. Harris, Contemporary American Novelists of the Absurd (Barth, Barthelme, Heller, Vonnegut). Columbia University Forum, for the excerpt from Charles Alva Hoyt’s article on Truman Capote, reprinted from The Columbia University Forum, Winter 1966, Vol. VIII, No. 1. Copyright © 1966 by xiii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Columbia University in the City of New York. Columbia University Press. From Herbert Leibowitz, Hart Crane; George W. Nitchie, Marianne Moore; Onwuchekwa Jemis, Langston Hughes: An Introduction to the Poetry; June Schlueter, Metafictional Characters in Modern Drama (Albee); David Shapiro, John Ashbery: An Introduction to the Poetry; Susan B. Weston, Wallace Stevens: An Introduction to the Poetry © 1975, 1979, and 1977 by Columbia University Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. Robert Combs. From Vision of the Voyage: Hart Crane and the Psychology of Romanticism. Commentary. For excerpts from articles and reviews cited in the text, quoted from Commentary, by permission; Copyright © 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, by the American Jewish Committee; from articles by Joseph Epstein on Dos Passos (January 1976), Pearl Bell on Piercy (July 1980), Ruth Wisse on Roth (September 1981). Reprinted from Commentary, by permission; all rights reserved. January, 1975 for "How Good is Alison Lurie?” by John W. Aldridge. Copyright © 1975 by the American Jewish Committee. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher and the author. Commonweal. For generous permission to reprint numerous excerpts from articles, including articles by Michael True on Shapiro, George Hunt on Cheever, Robert Phillips on Howard, Richard M. Elman on Olsen, and Richard Kuczkowski on Sontag; v. CVI, October 12, 1979. Copyright © 1979 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc. Reproduced by permission of Commonweal Foundation. James M. Con. From article on Lardner in The Virgina Quarterly Review. Concerning Poetry. From articles by Peter Cooley on J. Wright; Paul Cummins on Wilbur; Thomas Parkinson on Ginsberg; Richard K. Cross on Eberhart. Reprinted by permission of the editor; all rights reserved. Confrontation. Excerpts from essay on Mary McCarthy by Martin Tucker which appeared in Confrontation: A Literary Journal, (Fall 1992), p. 360. Copyright © 1992 by Long Island University and reprinted with the permission of author. Excerpts from essay on Paul Bowles by Martin Tucker which appeared in Confrontation: A Literary Journal, (Fall 1991), pp. 337–38. Copyright © 1991 by Long Island University and reprinted with the permission of author. Excerpts from essay on Richard Ford by Martin Tucker which appeared in Confrontation: A Literary Journal, (Fall 1990), pp. 217–18. Copyright © 1990 by Long Island University and reprinted with the permission of author. Excerpts from essay on Alice Hoffman by Lee Mhatre which appeared in Confrontation: A Literary Journal, (Fall 1994), pp. 342–43. Copyright © 1994 by Long Island University and reprinted with the permission of author. Excerpts from essay on John Irving by Lee Mhatre which appeared in Confrontation: A Literary Journal, (Summer 1995), pp. 361–63. Copyright © 1995 by Long Island University and reprinted with the permission of author. Excerpts from essay on Lanford Wilson by Martin Tucker which appeared in Confrontation: A Literary Journal, (Spring 1992), pp. 246, 247, 255. Copyright © 1992 by Long Island University and reprinted with the permission of author. Excerpts from essay on Donald Barthelme by Martin Tucker which appeared in Confrontation: A Literary Journal, (Fall 1990), p. 216. Copyright © 1990 by Long Island University and reprinted with the permission of author. Contemporary Poetry. From article by Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth on Howard. By permission of the editor. Contemporary Review. From article by Rosalind Wade on Condon. Cornell University Press, for the excerpt from Jamesian Ambiguity and The Sacred Fount by Jean Frantz Blackall, © 1965 by Cornell University. Used by permission of Cornell University; for the excerpt from Hart Crane’s Sanskrit Charge by L. S. Dembo, © 1960 by Cornell University. Used by permission of Cornell University; for the excerpt from The Theory of American Literature by Howard Mumford Jones, © 1965 by Cornell University; for Austin Briggs, Jr., The Novels of Harold Frederic. Copyright © 1969 by Cornell University; for Charles Berger, ‘‘Vision in the Form of a Task: The Double Dream of Spring,’’ in Beyond Amazement: New Essays on John Ashbery, David Lehman, ed., pp. 163–208. Copyright © 1980 by Cornell University. Used by Permission of the publisher, Cornell University Press. John William Corrington. From Introduction to Charles Bukowski, It Catches My Heart in Its Hands. xiv
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Jonathan Cott. From essay on Purdy in On Contemporary Literature, Richard Kostelanetz, ed. Malcolm Cowley. From article on cummings in The Yale Review. The Crisis. From article by W.E.B. Du Bois on Toomer. Critical Essays on Kurt Vonnegut. Excerpts from Culture and Anarchy: Vonnegut’s Later Career, by D. Cowart. Reprinted with the permission of G. K. Hall & Co. The Critical Quarterly. From articles by Damian Grant on Plath; Grevel Lindop on Simpson; D.P.M. Salter on Bellow; Tony Tanner on Vonnegut; Richard Bradbury on John Barth; Luke Spencer on John Berryman. Reprinted with the permission of Critical Quarterly. Critique. For generous permission to reprint numerious excerpts from articles. Crown Publishers, Inc. From Rediscoveries, edited with an introduction by David Madden. Copyright © 1971 by Crown Publishers, Inc. Used by permission of Crown Publishers, Inc. (Gaddis). Cue. From article by Marilyn Stasio on Rabe. The Dalhousie Review. From articles, by James Ballowe on Santayana: Alice Hamilton on McCullers. Elizabeth Dalton. From article on Nobokov in Partisan Review. Donald Davie. From essay on Olson in The Survival of Poetry. Martin Dodsworth, ed. Arthur P. Davis. From From the Dark Tower: Afro-American Writers 1900-1960. Howard University Press, 1974. Copyright © 1974 by the College Language Association. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. Cynthia Davis. From article on Barth in Centennial Review. Delacorte Press. From essays by Joe David Bellamy, by John Somer, by Dan Wakefield in The Vonnegut Statement, Jerome Klinkowitz and John Somer, eds. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. From Louis Sheaffer, O’Neill: Son and Playwright. Denver Quarterly. From article by Joanne Greenberg on Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Mother Night. Andre Deutsch Ltd. From Roy Fuller, Owls and Artificers (Moore, Stevens); from John Updike, PickedUp Pieces (Jong) and John Updike, Hugging the Shore (Bellow). Diacritics. From article by Josephine Jacobsen on Ammons. Roger Dickinson-Brown. From article on Momaday in The Southern Review. Morris Dickstein. From article on Fuchs and Schwartz in Partisan Review. Annie Dillard. From article on Connell in Harper’s. Millicent Dillon. From A Little Original Sin: The Life and Works of Jane Bowles. Dissent. From articles by Ann Douglas on Farrell, Mark Caldwell on Susan Sontag. Reprinted with the permission of Dissent. Melvin Dixon. From "Singing a Deep Song: Language as Evidence in the Novels of Gayl Jones" in Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation. Edited by Mari Evans. Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984. Copyright © 1983 by Mari Evans. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. xv
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Dodd, Mead & Company. From essay by Larry E. Thompson on Toomer in The Harlem Renaissance Remembered, Arna Bontemps, ed. Doubleday & Company, Inc., from E. B. White’s Introduction to the lives and times of archy and mehitable by Don Marquis. Introduction copyright 1950 by Doubleday & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the publisher: excerpt from O Rare Don Marquis by Edward Anthony. Copyright© 1962 by Edward Anthony. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday & Company, Inc.: excerpts by Robert Gorham Davis, Alan R. Jones, and David L. Stevenson, from The Creative Present, edited by Nona Balakian and Charles Simmons. Copyright© 1963 by Nona Balakian and Charles Simmons. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday & Company, Inc.; excerpt from The Theatre of the Absurd by Martin Esslin. Copyright © 1961 by Martin Esslin. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday & Company, Inc.; excerpt from Thomas Wolfe: A Biography by Elizabeth Nowell. Copyright © 1960 by Doubleday & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the publisher; for essay by Michael Benedikt on Drexler in Theater Experiment. Copyright © 1967 by Michael Benedikt; by William Van O’Connor on Gordon in South, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., and Robert D. Jacobs, eds. Copyright © 1961 by Doubleday & Company, Inc.; for William Barrett, The Truants: Adventures Among the Intellectuals. Copyright © 1982 by William Barrett. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday & Co. Inc. (Schwartz). Ann Douglas. From article on Farrell in Dissent. Dover Publications, Inc., for the excerpt from George Barkin’s Preface to Ambrose Bierce: Sardonic Humor of Ambrose Bierce, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1963. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. Robert Drake. From article on Price in The Southern Review. Tom F. Driver, for the excerpt from his article on Edward Albee in The Reporter (Jan. 2, 1964), reprinted by permission of the author and his agent, James Brown Associates, Inc. Copyright © 1964 by The Reporter Magazine Company. Martin Duberman. From articles on Bullins and Hansberry, on A. Miller in Partisan Review. Bernard Duffey. From article on Sandburg in Centennial Review. Duke University Press. From articles by Frank Baldanza on Purdy; L. S. Dembo on Zukofsky; Robert E. Fleming on Johnson; James W. Gargano on Wharton in American Literature; Louis Hasley on De Vries in South Atlantic Quarterly; Franklin Walker’s essay on London in Essays on American Literature in Honor of Jay Hubbell, Clarence Gohdes, ed.; Frederick I. Carpenter on Jeffers; Dick Wagenaar on Lewis; Jane S. Bakerman on Morrison; Deborah G. Lambert on Cather in American Literature. copyright © 1977, 1978, 1981, and 1982; Frank Lentricchia, Robert Frost: Modern Poetics and the Landscape of Self, copyright © 1975: Mary Kathryn Grant. The Tragic Vision of Joyce Carol Oates, copyright © 1978, all of the above by Duke University Press, Durham. N. C. Patrick O’Donnell, ‘‘The Thicket of Writing: On Stanley Elkin’s Fiction,’’ Facing Texts: Encounters between Contemporary Writers and Critics, ed. Heide Ziegler. Copyright 1988, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C. Reprinted with permission. Mimi Reisel Gladstein, ‘‘Straining for Profundity: Steinbeck’s Burning Bright and Sweet Thursday,’’ The Short Novels of John Steinbeck, ed. Jackson J. Benson. Copyright 1990, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C. Reprinted with permission. Jerome Klinkowitz, Donald Barthelme: An Exhibition. Copyright 1991, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C. Reprinted with permission. Jeffrey L. Duncan. From articles on West in Iowa Review. Todd Duncan. From article on Gaines in Callaloo. E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., for excerpts from ‘‘Lewis Mumford: American Prophet’’ (Harper’s June, 1952) by Van Wyck Brooks and Introduction to The History of a Literary Radical and Other Papers (by Randolph Bourne, published by Russell & Russell) by Van Wyck Brooks, permission is granted by E.P.Dutton & Co., Inc. on behalf of Mrs. Gladys Brooks; from Fictions and Events by Warner Berthoff; Copyright © 1971 by Warner Berthoff (Mailer, Nabokov). Excerpt on Mailer originally published in New Literary History; from Frank MacShane, The Life of Raymond Chandler, copyright© 1976 by Frank xvi
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MacShane; Townsend Ludington, John Dos Passos: A Twentieth Century Odyssey, copyright © 1980 by Townsend Ludington. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, E. P. Dutton, Inc. Richard Eberhart. From article on Scott in Poetry. Educational Theatre Journal. From article by Gil Lazier on Rabe. Thomas R. Edwards. From article on Fiedler in Partisan Review. Irvin Ehrenpreis. From "Ashbery and Justice" in Poetries of America: Essays on the Relations of Character to Style. Edited by Daniel Albright. The University Press of Virginia, 1989. Copyright © 1989 by the Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia Press. Reproduced by permission. Encounter. From articles by Ronald Hayman on Bishop, on Olson, on Roethke, on Snyder; Theodore Weiss on W.C. Williams. English. Excerpts from book review by Joan A. Burke of Transformations by Anne Sexton, in ‘‘Transformations: Classics and Their Cousins.’’ English Journal, March 1994. Copyright © 1994 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission. English Journal. From article by Janet R. Sutherland on Kesey; v. 61, December, 1972 for "Ray Bradbury and Fantasy” by Anita T. Sullivan. Copyright © 1972 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reproduced by permission of the publisher and the respective authors. English Language Notes. Excerpts from article on Nathanael West by Robert Wexelblatt, which appeared in English Language Notes. Copyright © 1988 and reprinted with the permission of English Language Notes. English Literary History. Excerpts on Edith Wharton by Amy Kaplan. Copyright © Summer 1986, pp. 433–34, 453–54, by English Literary History and reprinted with the permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. English Studies. Excerpts from article on E. L. Doctorow by J. M. Bloom & F. R. Leavis which appeared in English Studies. Copyright © 1990 and reprinted with the permission of the Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers. Excerpts from article on Lanford Wilson by Logan Speirs which appeared in English Studies. Copyright © 1990 and reprinted with the permission of the Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers. Epoch. From article by David Ray on Bly. Esquire. From article by Malcolm Muggeridge on Brautigan. Reprinted by permission of Esquire Magazine © 1965 by Esquire, Inc.; from article by James Wolcott on Gardner. Reprinted with permission from Esquire (June 1982). Copyright © 1982 by Esquire Associates. Essays in Literature. Excerpts from article on Mary Gordon by John M. Neary which appeared in Essays in Literature. Copyright © 1990 and reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Excerpts from article on Denise Levertov by Diane C. LeBlanc which appeared in Essays in Literature. Copyright © 1991 and reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Sybill P. Estess. From article on Biship in The Southern Review. Everett/Edwards, Inc., for excerpts from six essays in Essays in Modern American Literature, edited by Richard E. Langford, published by Stetson University Press in 1963; from essays by Dan Jaffee on Brooks; Jordan Y. Miller on Hansberry in The Black American Writer, C.W.E. Bigsby, ed.; Warren French on Purdy in Essays in Modern American Literature, Richard E. Langford, ed.; Warren French on Salinger and Donald Pease on Purdy in The Fifties, Warren French, ed.; Gerald Rabkin on Wilder in The Forties, Warren French, ed.; Michael J. Mendelsohn, Clifford Odets: Humane Dramatist. By permission of the publisher. Extrapolation. Excerpts from Isaac Asimov by Clyde Wilcox. Copyright © 1990 by and reprinted with the permission of Extrapolation. xvii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd., for permission for the British Commonwealth for excerpts from The Theatre of the Absurd by Martin Esslin. Faber and Faber, Ltd., for permission for world rights excluding the U.S.A. and Canada for excerpts from The Dyer’s Hand by W. H. Auden; Saul Bellow’s Foreword to Recovery by John Berryman; Denis Donoghue, The Ordinary Universe (Burke, Eliot, Fitzgerald, H. James, Jarrell, Moore, O’Neill, Pound, W.C. Williams); Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era (Pound); Julian Symons, Bloody Murder (Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald); Michael Alexander, The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound, by permission of the publishers. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., for excerpts reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, as follows: from Babel to Byzantium by James Dickey. Copyright © 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 by James Dickey; from The King of the Cats by F. W. Dupee; Copyright © 1963 by F.W. Dupee; from The Collected Works of Jane Bowles. Introduction copyright © 1966 by Truman Capote; from A Reader’s Guide to William Faulkner by Edmond L. Volpe. Copyright © 1964 by Edmond L. Volpe; from The Magic of Shirley Jackson, edited by Stanley Edgar Hyman. Copyright © 1965, 1966 by Stanley Edgar Hyman; from Doings and Undoings by Norman Podhoretz. Copyright © 1958, 1964 by Norman Podhoretz; from The Myth and the Powerhouse by Philip Rahv. Copyright © 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1965 by Philip Rahv; from the foreword by Saul Bellow from Recovery by John Berryman, Foreward copyright © 1973 by Saul Bellow; Babel to Byzantium by James Dickey. Copyright © 1956, 19578, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 by James Dickey (Ashbery, Kinnell, Meredith, Olson, Stafford); Nathanael West: The Art of His Life by Jay Martin. Copyright © 1970 by Jay Martin; Doings and Undoings by Norman Podhoretz. Copyright © 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964 by Norman Podhoretz (Goodman); Wilfrid Sheed’s text and John Leonard’s Foreword from The Morning After by Wilfred Sheed. Copyright © 1963, 1965, 19656, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971 by Wilfrid Sheed and Foreword copyright © 1971 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc. (Coover); from Langston Hughes, The Big Sea, copyright 1940 by Langston Hughes, copyright renewed © 1968 by Arna Bontemps and George Houston Bass, reprinted by permission of Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Staraus & Giroux, Inc.; James Atlas, Delmore Schwartz: The Life of an American Poet, copyright © 1977 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Feminist Studies. From article by Deborah Rosenfelt on Olsen, reprinted from Feminist Studies, 7, 3 (Fall 1981), by permission of the publisher, Feminist Studies, Inc., c/o Women’s Studies Program, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Suzanne C. Ferguson. From article on Barnes in The Southern Review. Fontana Paperbacks. From Richard Poirer, Mailer. Estate of Ford Madox Ford. From article on Gordon in The Bookman. Gabrielle Foreman for her excerpt on Dove. Fortress Press. From Wesley A. Kort, Shriven Selves (De Vries, Malamud, Styron, Updike). Richard Foster. From essay on Fitzgerald in Sense and Sensibility in Twentieth Century Writing, Brom Weber, ed. G. S. Fraser. From articles on Howard, on Zukofsky in Partisan Review. Freedomways, v. 3, Summer, 1963; v. 20, 1980. Copyright © 1963, 1980 by Freedomways Associates, Inc. Both reproduced by permission. Samuel French, Inc., for the excerpt from New Theatres for Old copyright, 1940, 1962, by Mordecai Gorelik, reprinted by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.; for the excerpt from the Introduction to Peace on Earth: copyright, 1933, by George Sklar and Albert Maltz, reprinted by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. Jonathan Galassi. From article on Nemerov in Poetry. xviii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Arthur Ganz. From article in Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays. Stephen S. Stanton, ed. Carol B. Gartner. From Rachel Carson. Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983. Copyright © 1983 by Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., Inc. Reproduced by permission. Addison Gayle, Jr. From essay on Faulkner, Styron in Amistad 1. Genre. Excerpts from article on Truman Capote by Phyllis Frus McCord which appeared in GENRE. Copyright © 1986 and reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Excerpts from ‘‘A Splintery Box: Race and Gender in the Sonnets of Gwendolyn Brooks’’ by Stacy Carson Hubbard which appeared in GENRE. Copyright © 1992 and reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Georgia Review. From articles by Daniel Hoffman on Sandburg, Benjamin Taylor on Sontag, reprinted with permission of the publisher; article on Saul Bellow by Greg Johnson which appeared in The Georgia Review. Copyright © 1991 by The Georgia Review and reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Excerpts from article on T. C. Boyle by Greg Johnson which appeared in The Georgia Review. Copyright © 1990 by The Georgia Review and reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Excerpts from article on Joyce Carol Oates by Sanford Pinsker which appeared in The Georgia Review. Copyright © 1991 by The Georgia Review and reprinted with the permission of the publisher. Vol. XLVII, Spring, 1993. Copyright, 1993, by the University of Georgia. Reproduced by permission. Gettysburg Review. ‘‘Robert Frost: The Symbols a Poem Makes,’’ by D. Hoffman, first appeared in The Gettysburg Review, volume 7, number 1, and sections are here by the permission of the editors. Henry Gifford. From essay in Marianne Moore, Charles Tomlinson, ed. Richard Gilman. From Introduction to Rosalyn Drexler. The Line of Least Resistance. Giovanni, Nikki. From "Afterword" in A Singer in the Dawn: Reinterpretations of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Edited by Jay Martin. Dodd, Mead & Company, 1975. Reproduced by permission of the author. Hugh M. Gloster. From Negro Voices in American Fiction. University of North Carolina Press, 1948. Copyright 1948 by The University of North Carolina Press. Renewed 1975 by Hugh M. Gloster. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. Going, William T. From Essays on Alabama Literature. The University of Alabama Press, 1975. Copyright © 1975 by The University of Alabama Press. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author. Vivian Gornick. From article on Hellman in Ms. Magazine. Kenneth Graham. From article on Berger in The Listener. Graham House Review. Excerpts from article on Adrienne Rich by Terrence Des Pres which appeared in Graham House Review. Copyright © 1988 and reprinted with the permission of Graham House Review. Granada Publishing Ltd. From C.W.E. Bigsby, Confrontation and Commitment (Hansberry). Richard Gray. From The Literature of Memory: Modern Writers of the American South (McCullers, Styron). Greenwood Press. From Margaret Perry, A Bio-Bibliography of Countee P. Cullen; from Barbara Christian, Black Women Novelists, reprinted by permission of the publishers (Morrison). The Sleuth and the Scholar, Rader and Zettler (ed.). Copyright © 1988 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. Silence and Narrative, Janice L. Doane. Copyright © 1986 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. A Gertrude Stein Companion, Bruce Kellner (ed.). Copyright © 1988 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. Political Mythology and Popular Fiction, Yanarella and Sigelman. Copyright © 1988 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. Confronting Tennessee Williams’ ‘‘A xix
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Streetcar,’’ Philip C. Kolin (ed.). Copyright © 1993 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. American Playwrights since 1945, Scott T. Cummings/ Philip C. Kolin (ed.). Copyright © 1989 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group. Inc., Westport, CT. In the Mainstream, Louis Harap. Copyright © 1987 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. A Search for a Post-Modern Theatre, John L. DiGaetani. Copyright © 1991 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport. CT. With Ears Opening Like Morning Glories, Carol Manning. Copyright © 1985 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. Literary Exile in the 20th Century, Martin Tucker. Copyright © 1991 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. The Critical Responses to Dashiell Hammett, Christopher Metress (ed.). Copyright © 1994 by Greenwood Press. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. Bryan F. Griffin. From article on Irving in The Atlantic. The Griffin, for the excerpt from ‘‘Habit and Promise’’ by R. P. Blackmur, p. 7 of The Griffin, March 1961, Volume 10, No. 3, The Readers’ Subscription, Inc., Publishers, New York, 1961. Grove Press, Inc. From Ruby Cohn, New American Dramatists: 1960–1980); reprinted by permission of Grove Press, Inc. (Guare, L. Wilson). Mel Gussow. From article on L. Wilson from Horizon. Jay L. Halio. From articles on Hawkes, on Roth, on Taylor in The Southern Review. G. K. Hall & Co. From Ray L. White, Gore Vidal, copyright © 1968; David Madden, James M. Cain, copyright © 1970; Edgar M. Branch, James T. Farrell, copyright © 1971; Martha Heasley Cox and Wayne Chatterton, Nelson Algren, copyright © 1975; Henry Chupack, James Purdy, copyright © 1975; James B. Scott, Djuna Barnes, copyright © 1976; Bob Steuding, Gary Snyder, copyright © 1976; Michael J. Hoffman, Gertrude Stein, copyright © 1976; Margaret B. McDowell, Edith Wharton, copyright © 1976; Charles D. Peavy, Larry McMurtry, copyright © 1977; Arthur Ford, Robert Creeley, copyright © 1978; Paul L. Gaston, W. D. Snodgrass, copyright © 1978; Robert Phillips, William Goyen, copyright © 1979; Alan Feldman, Frank O’Hara, copyright © 1979; Lillie P. Howard, Zora Neale Hurston, copyright © 1980; Ross Labrie, Howard Nemerov, copyright © 1980; Marie Henault, Stanley Kunitz, copyright © 1980; Robert Felgar, Richard Wright, copyright © 1980; Lois Gordon, Donald Barthelme, copyright © 1981; Gerald Pannick, R. P. Blackmur, copyright © 1981; Richard Anderson, Robert Coover, copyright © 1981; Bernetta Quinn, Randall Jarrell, copyright © 1981; Chari Davis, W.S. Mervin, copyright © 1981; Joseph Reino, Karl Shapiro, copyright © 1981; all of the above copyright by and reprinted with permission of Twayne Publishers, a division of G. K. Hall & Co. From introduction by Stanley Trachtenberg in Critical Essays on Saul Bellow, Stanley Trachtenberg, ed., copyright © 1979; article by Daniel Walden in Critical Essays on Arthur Miller, James J. Martine, ed., copyright © 1979; article by G. F. Waller in Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates, Linda W. Wagner, ed., copyright © 1979; introduction by Scott MacDonald and article by Sylvia J. Cook in Critical Essays on Erskine Caldwell, Scott MacDonald, ed., copyright © 1981; article by Donald J. Greiner in Critical Essays on Robert Frost, Philip L. Gerber, ed., copyright © 1982; article by Howard Eiland in Critical Essays on Philip Roth, Sanford Pinsker, ed., copyright © 1982; article by John Gardner in Critical Essays on William Styron, Arthyr Casciato and James L.W. West III, eds., copyright © 1982; Article by Kathleen Verduin in Critical Essays on John Updike, William R. Macnaughton, ed., Copyright © 1982; article by Helen Hagenbüchle in Critical Essays on Randall Jarrell, Suzanne Ferguson, ed., copyright © 1983; all of the above copyright by and reprinted with permission of G. K. Hall & Co. Barbara Hardy. From essay on Plath in The Survival of Poetry, Martin Dodsworth, ed. Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., for excerpts from American Poetry Since 1945 by Stephen Stepanchev. Copyright © 1965, by Stephen Stepanchev. Reprinted by permission of Harper and Row, Publishers; Robert Lowell’s Foreword to Ariel by Sylvia Plath. Copyright © 1966 by Ted Hughes; Mortal Consequences by Julian Symons. Copyright © 1972 by Julian Symons (Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald); City of Words: American Fiction 1950–1970 by Tony Tanner. Copyright © 1971 by Tony Tanner (Barth, Burroughs); Rebecca Charmers Barton, Witnesses for Freedom (Hurston); Suzanne Juhasz, Naked and xx
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Fiery Forms: Modern American Poetry by Women, a New Tradition, copyright © 1976 by Suzanne Juhasz, reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. (Levertov, Plath, Sexton); introduction by Michel Fabre, Richard Wright Reader, Michel Fabre, ed.; Judith Kroll, Chapters in a Mythology; The Poetry of Sylvia Plath, copyright © 1976 by Judith Kroll, reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. HarperCollins. Excerpts from Hemingway: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers. Copyright © 1985. Reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins. Excerpts from The Dream at the End of the World by Michelle Green. Copyright © 1993. Reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins. Harper’s Magazine, Inc., for the excerpt from ‘‘The Riddle of John Dos Passos’’ by Daniel Aaron, copyright © 1962 by Harper’s Magazine, Inc. Reprinted from the March, 1962 issue of Harper’s Magazine by permission of the author; for the excerpt from ‘‘Lewis Mumford: American Prophet’’ by Van Wyck Brooks, copyright © 1952 by Harper’s Magazine, Inc. Reprinted from the June, 1952 issue of Harper’s Magazine by permission of Mrs. Gladys Brooks; for the excerpt from the review of Nova Express (by William Burroughs) by Robert Hatch, copyright © 1964 by Harper’s Magazine, Inc. Reprinted from the January, 1965 issue of Harper’s Magazine by permission of the author; for the excerpt from the review of The House of Five Talents (by Louis Auchincloss) by Paul Pickerel, copyright © 1960 by Harper’s Magazine, Inc. Reprinted from the October, 1960 issue of Harper’s Magazine by permission of the author; for the excerpt from the review of In Cold Blood (by Truman Capote) by Rebecca West, copyright © 1966 by Harper’s Magazine, Inc. Reprinted from the February, 1966 issue of Harper’s Magazine by permission of the author; for the excerpt from the article by John W. Aldridge on Heller, copyright © 1979 by Harper’s Magazine; all rights reserved; reprinted from the March 1979 issue by special permission; for the excerpt from the article by Paul Berman on Singer, copyright © 1978 by Harper’s Magazine; all rights reserved; reprinted from the September 1978 issue by special permission; for the excerpt from the article by James Wolcott on Oates, copyright © 1982 by Harper’s Magazine; all rights reserved; reprinted from the September 1982 issue by special permission. Norman Harris. From article on Reed in Obsidian. Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd., for permission for the British Commonwealth for the excerpt from William James by Gay Wilson Allen. Harvard University. Department of English and American Literature and Language. From essays by Roger Rosenblatt on Hughes in Veins of Humor, Harry Levin, ed.; Gordon O. Taylor on Adams; Phillip M. Weinstein on H. James in The Interpretation of Narrative, Morton W. Bloomfield, ed. Harvard University Press, reprinted by permission of the publishers as follows: from J. Hillis Miller, Jr., Poets of Reality: Six Twentieth-Century Writers, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1965, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College; from Walter Bates Rideout, The Radical Novel in the United States, 1900–1954, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press Copyright © 1956, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College; from Moses Rischin, The Promised City: New York’s Jews, 1870–1914, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1962, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College; from Ernest Samuels, Henry Adams: The Major Phase, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1964, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College; from Theodora Ward, The Capsule of the Mind: Chapters in the Life of Emily Dickinson, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1961, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College; from Thomas H. Jackson, The Early Poetry of Ezra Pound; Helen Vendler, On Extended Wings: Wallace Stevens’ Longer Poems; from Robert von Hallberg, Charles Olson: The Scholar’s Art, reprinted by permission; Bonnie Costello, Marianne Moore: Imaginary Possessions, reprinted by permission; Robert G. O’Meally, The Craft of Ralph Ellison, copyright © 1980 by Harvard University Press, reprinted by permission; Ellen Fifer, Nabokov and the Novel, copyright © 1980 by Harvard University Press. Reprinted by permission. Hawthorn Books, Inc. From essays by Robert Alter on Mailer; Donald B. Gibson on Baldwin, on Ellison; W. Gordon Milne on Dos Passos; Lewis A. Lawson on Faulkner in The Politics of Twentieth-Century Novelists, George A. Panichas, ed. Alan Helms. From article on Ashbery in Partisan Review. xxi
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Calvin C. Hernton. From essay on Baldwin, L. Jones, Reed in Amistad 1. David Higham Associates, Ltd. From article by Edith Sitwell on Purdy in The New York Herald Tribune Book Section. William Heyen. From article on Levertov in The Southern Review. Marianne Hirsch for her except on Morrison. Baruch Hochman. From article on Singer in Midstream. Daniel Hoffman. From article on Malcolm Cowley’s Bule Juniata in Poetry, from article on Sandburg in Georgia Review. Nancy Yanes Hoffman. From article on Sarton in Southwest Review. The Hollins Critic. From articles by Eugene Chesnick on Percy; Peter Cooley on Plath; R. H. W. Dillard on Coover; Gale Flynn on Rich; Grace Farrell Lee on Singer; Judith Moffett on Merrill; Henry Taylor on Sarton; Gerald Weales on Kosinski; Robert Scholes on Hawkes; John Ditsky on Elkin; Miriam Fuchs on Barnes; Richard Kostelanetz on Stein; Henry Taylor on Meredith; Joel Connaroe on Berryman; and Daniel L. Zins on Doctorow; Michael Graves on James Wright; v. XIX, October, 1982; v. XXI, December, 1984. Copyright © 1982,1984 by Hollins College. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc. From Patrick More, ‘‘Symbol, Mask and Meter in the Poetry of Louise Bogan,’’ and Kathleen Woodward, ‘‘May Sarton and the Fictions of Old Age,’’ in Gender and Literary Voice, Janet Todd. ed., by permission of Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., copyright © 1980 by Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., New York. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. From Millicent Dillon, A Little Original Sin: The Life and Works of Jane Bowles, copyright © 1981 by Millicent Dillon; reprinted by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers. Horizon Magazine. From article by Mel Gussow on L. Wilson, reprinted from Horizon Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 5 (May 1980), copyright © 1980 by Horizon Publishers, Inc. Horizon Press. Reprinted from Standards: A Chronicle of Books for Our Time by Stanley Edgar Hyman. Copyright © 1966, by permission of the publisher Horizon Press, New York (Purdy, Singer). Houghton Mifflin Company. From Hyatt H. Waggoner, American Poets from the Puritans to the Present (Crane, Cummings, Frost, Roethke, Shapiro); foreword by Maxine Kumin to The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton, foreword copyright © 1981 by Maxine Kumin, reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company and Curtis Brown Ltd.; Janice S. Robinson, H.D.: The Life and Work of an American Poet, copyright © 1982 by Janice S. Robinson, reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company and John Brockman Associates; Gilbert A. Harrison, The Enthusiast: A Life of Thornton Wilder, copyright © 1983 by Gilbert A. Harrison, reprinted by permission of Ticknor & Fields, a Houghton Mifflin © company, and Brandt & Brandt Literary Agents, Inc. Maureen Howard. From article on Bowles in Partisan Review. Richard Howard. From articles on Auden in Poetry; on Rich in Partisan Review. Howard University Press. From Authur P. Davis, From the Dark Tower: AfroAmerican Writers 1900–1960 (Brooks, Johnson); from article by Darwin T. Turner in James Baldwin: A Critical Evaluation, Therman B. O’Daniel, Ed., © copyright 1977 by the College Language Association, with the permission of Howard University Press, Washington, D.C. Irving Howe. From articles on Kosinski, on Plath in Harper’s; essay on Singer in On Contemporary Literature. xxii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The Hudson Review, for the quotations from The Hudson Review, which are copyrighted © 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 by the Hudson Review, Inc.; from articles by Marius Bewley on Ammons in Vol. XXI No. 4 (Winter, 1968–69). Copyright © 1969 by the Hudson Review, Inc.; Hayden Carruth on Trilogy by H. D. (Doolittle) in Vol. XXVII No. 2 (Summer, 1974). Copyright © 1974 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Hayden Carruth on Duncan, on Wakoski in Vol. XXI No. 2 (Summer, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Patrick Cruttwell on Winters in Vol. XXI No. 2 (Summer, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Ronald De Feo on Gravity’s Rainbow by Pynchon in Vol. XXVI No. 4 (Winter, 1973–74). Copyright © 1974 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; William Dickey on Bogan, on Wilbur in Vol. XXII No. 2 (Summer, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Robert Garis on Lost in the Funhouse by Barth in Vol. XXII No. 1 (Spring, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Anthony Hecht on Poems 3 by Dugan, on The Blue Swallows by Nemerov in Vol. XXI No. 1 (Spring, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Richmond Lattimore on Adventure of the Letter 1 by Simpson in Vol. XXV No. 3 (Autumn, 1972). Copyright © 1972 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Herbert Leibowitz on New and Selected Poems by Garrigue in Vol. XXI No. 3 (Autumn, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Herbert Leibowitz on Planet News by Ginsberg in Vol. XXII No. 3 (Autumn. 1969). Copyright © 1969 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Herbert Leibowitz on After Experience by Snodgrass in Vol. XXI No. 3 (Autumn, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; J. Mitchel Morse on Zukofsky in Vol. XXII No. 2 (Summer, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Neal J. Osborn, ‘‘Toward the Quintessential Burke’’ in Vol. XXI No. 2 (Summer, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; William H. Pritchard on Jarrell, on The Writing on the Wall by Mary McCarthy in Vol. XXIII No. 2 (Summer, 1970). Copyright © 1970 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; William H. Pritchard on The Fall of America by Ginsberg in Vol. XXVI No. 3 (Autumn, 1973). Copyright © 1973 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; William H. Pritchard on Updike in Vol. XXI No. 2 (Summer, 1968). Copyright © 1968 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Roger Sale on The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor in Vol. XXII No. 4 (Winter 1969–70). Copyright © 1970 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; John Simon on A Moon for the Misbegotten by O’Neill in Vol. XXVII No. 2 (Summer, 1974). Copyright © 1974 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Louis Simpson on Stafford in Vol. XIV No. 3 (Autumn, 1961). Copyright © 1961 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Patricia Meyer Spacks on Welty in Vol. XXV No. 3 (Autumn 1972). Copyright © 1972 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Gerald Weales on Fire Sermon by Morris in Vol. XXIV No. 4 (Winter. 1971–72). Copyright © 1972 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; William H. Pritchard on Hollander, in Vol. XXVI. No.3 (Autumn 1973), copyright © 1973 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; Richard Pevear on Zukofsky in Vol.XXIX. No.2 (Summer 1976), copyright © 1976 by The Hudson Review, Inc.: Peter Glassman on Beattie, in Vol. XXX, No.4 (Autumn 1977), copyright © 1977 by The Hudson Review, Inc.: Maureen Howard on Morrison, in Vol. XXXI. No. 1 (Spring 1978), copyright © 1978 by the Hudson Review, Inc.: William H. Pritchard on Theroux, in Vol. XXXI. No. 3 (Autumn 1978), copyright © 1978 by The Hudson Review Inc., Richmond Lattimore on Hollander, In Vol. XXXII. No. 3 (Autumn 1979), copyright © 1979 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; ‘‘An American Woman of Letters’’ by Sonya Rudikoff in Vol. XLII, No. 1 (Spring 1989). Copyright © 1989 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; ‘‘Why the Novel (Still) Matters’’ by Alice Bloom in Vol. XLIII, No. 1 (Spring 1990). Copyright © 1990 by The Hudson Review. Inc. All selections reprinted by permission from The Hudson Review. Humanist. Excerpts from article ‘‘The Legacy of Isaac Asimov,’’ by Pat Duffy Hutcheon, The Humanist, Mar./Apr. 1993. Copyright © 1993. Indiana University Press. From essays by Anne Sexton, Ted Hughes in The Art of Sylvia Plath, Charles Newman, ed.; Ruby Cohn, Dialogue in American Drama (Albee, A. Miller, T. Williams); Rachel Blau DuPlessis in Shakespeare’s Sisters: Feminist Essays on Women Poets, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, eds. (Rich); Richard Allen Blessing, Theodore Roethke’s Dynamic Vision. International Creative Mangement. From John Leonard’s Foreword to Wilfrid Sheed, The Morning After, (Coover); articles by Earl Shorris on Algren, on Barthelme, on Gass in Harper’s Magazine. Reprinted by permission of International Creative Management and Earl Shorris. First printed in Harper’s Magazine. Copyright © 1972–73 by Harper’s Magazine. Iowa Review. From article by David Boxer and Cassandra Phillips on Carver. Lee A. Jacobus. From eassy on L. Jones in Modern Black Poets, Donald B. Gibson, ed. Fredric Jamison. From article on Chandler in The Southern Review. xxiii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Mrs. Randall Jarrell, for the excerpt from the review of The Diamond Cutters (by Adrienne Rich) by Randall Jarrell in The Yale Review (Autumn, 1956). Johns Hopkins University Press, for excerpts from ELH, cited in the text; from article by Vivienne Koch on Gordon in Southern Renascence, Lewis D. Rubin, Jr., and Robert D. Jacobs, eds.; Mark Van Doren’s Foreword to The Selected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, Ann N. Ridgeway, ed.; Calvin Bedient, Richard Allen Blessing in Sylvia Plath: New Views on the Poetry, Gary Lane, ed.; article by Hana Wirth-Nesher on Roth in Prooftexts. By permission of the publishers, Johns Hopkins University Press. Excerpts from article on D. Hwang by Linda Sarver which appeared in Theatre Journal. Copyright © 1995. Reprinted with the permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. James Weldon Johnson. From a preface to The Book of American Negro Poetry. Edited by James Weldon Johnson. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1922. Copyright 1922, 1931 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.; renewed 1950 by Grace Johnson. Renewed 1950, 1959 by Mrs. Grace Nail Johnson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. D. A. N. Jones. From article on Bullins in The Listener. Journal of American Studies. Excerpts from article on Susan Sontag by Liam Kennedy which appeared in Journal of American Studies (April 1990), Vol. 24. Copyright © 1990. Journal of Modern Literature. From articles by A. Poulin, Jr., on Howard; Fred Moramarco on F. O’Hara, copyright © 1976 by Temple University; Rushworth Kidder on Cummings, copyright © 1979 by Temple University; Ann Edwards Boutelle on Hemingway, copyright © 1981 by Temple University; Stephen Jan Parker, ‘‘Nabokov in the Margins: The Montreux Books.’’ JML, volume 14, issue 1 (Summer 1987). Appears on pages 5–16. Permission is for page 5 only. Journal of Narrative Technique. From article by Krystyna Prendowska on Kosinski, by permission; excerpts from essay by Elaine Orr. Copyright © Spring 1993 by and reprinted with the permission of The Journal of Narrative Technique. David Kalstone. From article on Bishop in Partisan Review. Kansas Quarterly. From article by George E. Kent on Angelou, Jonathan Holden on Chandler, by permission. Frederick R. Karl. From essay in The Achievement of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Marcia Allentuck, ed. Howard Kaye. From article on Winters in The Southern Review. Alfred Kazin. From article on Oates in Harper’s. X. J. Kennedy. From article on Merrill in The Atlantic Monthly. Hugh Kenner, for the excerpt from The Invisible Poet: T.S. Eliot. Kent State University Press. From articles by Donald Palumbo on Burroughs, Dena C. Bain on Le Guin in Extrapolation. Copyright © 1979 and 1980 by Kent State University Press; reprinted by permission. Kenyon Review. V. XI, Spring, 1989 for ‘‘Ray-Rhymers, Shit-Burners, Transformation, and Grandpa Dave’’ by Anthony Libby. Copyright 1989 by Kenyon College; reproduced by permission of the author. Excerpts from ‘‘Portrait of a Lady: Isabella Gardner’’ by Marian Janssen. First published in The Kenyon Review-New Series, Summer 1991. Excerpts from ‘‘A World That Will Not Hold All The People: On Muriel Rukeyser’’ by Suzanne Gadinier. First published in The Kenyon Review-New Series, Summer 1992. V. XIV, Winter, 1992 for ‘‘Contemporary Poetics and History: Pinsky, Klepfisz, and Rothenberg’’ by James McCorkle. Copyright 1992 by Kenyon College; reproduced by permission of the author. Excerpts from ‘‘A Mysterious and Lavish Power’’ by Sue Russell. First published in The Kenyon ReviewNew Series, Summer 1994. All rights reserved. Baine Kerr. From article on Momaday in Southwest Review. xxiv
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Edward Kessler. From Image of Wallace Stevens. John O. Killens. From ‘‘The Literary Genius of Alice Childress’’ in Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation. Edited by Mari Evans. Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984. Copyright © 1983 by Mari Evans. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Arthur F. Kinney. From essay on Faulkner in The Southern Review. Kirk, Russell. From Enemies of the Permanent Things: Observations of Abnormality in Literature and Politics. Arlington House, 1969. Copyright © 1969 by Arlington House. Reproduced by permission of the Estate of Russell Kirk. Kirkus Reviews, v. LII, July 1, 1984. Copyright © 1984 The Kirkus Service, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. William Kleb. From article on Shepard in Theatre. Marcus Klein. From article on Gass in The Reporter. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Excerpts from James Baldwin by David Leeming. Copyright © 1994 and reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Excerpts from Metaphor and Memory by Cynthia Ozick. Copyright © 1989 and reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Excerpts from Louise Bogan: A Portrait by Elizabeth Frank. Copyright © 1985 by Elizabeth Frank. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Excerpts from The Journals of John Cheever by John Cheever. Copyright © 1990, 1991 by Mary Cheever, Susan Cheever, Benjamin Cheever, and Federico Cheever. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Kenneth Koch. From article on F. O’Hara in Partisan Review. Michael Kreyling. From article on Price in The Southern Review. Stanley Kunitz. From essay in Randall Jarrell 1914–1965, Robert Lowell, Peter Taylor, Robert Penn Warren, eds. Thomas H. Landess. From Larry McMurtry (Steck-Vaughn, 1969). Lewis Leary. From essay on Mark Twain in Sense and Sensibility in Twentieth-Century Writing, Brom Weber, ed. Ruth Lechlitner. From article on Meredith in Poetry. Thomas Le Clair. From article on Barth in Texas Studies in Literature and Language. Richard Lehan. From article on Percy in The Southern Review. George Lensing. From article on Lowell in The Southern Review. John Leonard. From article on Yurick in Life. Julius Lester. From Introduction to Lorraine Hansberry, Les Blancs. J. C. Levenson. From article on Robinson in The Virginia Quarterly Review. Philip Levine. From article on Merwin in Poetry. Gloria Levitas. From article on Calisher in The New York Herald Tribune Book Section. R. W. B. Lewis. From article on Purdy in The New York Herald Tribune Book Section. xxv
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Anthony Libby. From article on Bly in The lowa Review. Library Journal. From articles by john Alfred Avant on Oates; Robert S. Bravard on Reed; Richard M. Buck on Coover, on Horovitz; Bill Katz on Bukowski; Dorothy Nyren on Connell; Robert Regan on Wakoski; Jon M. Warner on Eastlake. Laurence Lieberman. From articles on Dickey, on Duncan, on Garrigue, on Hughes, on Rexroth, on Rukeyser, on Shapiro, on Viereck, on J. Wright in Poetry. To be republished in The Blind Dancers: Ten Years of American Poetry: 1965–75 by The University of Illinois Press. Life Magazine, for the excerpt from ‘‘A Cry of Loss: Dilemma Come Back’’ by Tom Prideaux, Life Magazine © 1966 Time Inc. Ruth Limmer. From article by Louise Bogan on Swenson, originally published in The New Yorker and republished in A Poet’s Alphabet (McGraw-Hill, 1970), reprinted by permission of Ruth Limmer as Trustee of the Estate of Louise Bogan. J. B. Lippincott Company. From Native Sons by Edward Margolies. Copyright © 1968 by Edward Margolies. Reprinted by permission of J.B. Lippincott Company (Baldwin, Cullen. Ellison, Himes, Hughes, R. Wright). The Literary Review: An International Quarterly. From articles by Robert Miklitsch on Strand, reprinted from The Literary Review, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Spring 1978), pp. 357–59, published by Fairleigh Dickinson University; William F. Van Wert on Hawkes, reprinted from The Literary Review, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Fall 1980), pp. 37–39, published by Fairleigh Dickinson University; Marianne Boruch on A. Miller, reprinted from The Literary Review, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Summer 1981), pp. 548–49, 555, 560, published by Fairleigh Dickinson University; Paul R. Lilly, Jr., on Kosinski, reprinted from The Literary Review, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Spring 1982), pp. 390–91, published by Fairleigh Dickinson University. Little, Brown and Co., for excerpts from books published by them, cited in text as Little; for the excerpt from The Third Rose by John Malcolm Brinnin, published by Atlantic-Little, Brown and Company; for the excerpt from The Thought and Character of William James by Ralph Barton Perry, published by AtlanticLittle, Brown and Company; for the excerpt from Alfred Kazin, Contemporaties. Copyright © 1958 by Alfred Kazin, by permission of Little, Brown and Co. in association with The Atlantic Monthly Press (Singer); Alfred Kazin, The Bright Book of Life: American Novelists and Storytellers from Hemingway to Mailer. Copyright © 1971, 1973 by Alfred Kazin, by permission of Little, Brown and Co. in association with The Atlantic Monthly Press (Burroughs, Capote, J. Jones, McCullers. Percy, Roth, Salinger, West); Louis Sheaffer, O’Neill: Son and Playwright; Martin Gottfried, A Theatre Divided: The Postwar American Stage (L. Wilson); Robert Coles, Walker Percy: An American Search, by permission of Little, Brown and Co. From Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe by David Herbert Donald. Copyright © 1987 by Magnus, Ltd. By permission of Little, Brown & Company. Liveright Publishing Corporation. From Waldo Frank’s Foreword to Jean Toomer, Cane; Leon Katz’s Introduction to Gertrude Stein, Fernhurst, Q.E.D. and Other Early Writings. William Logan. From article on Hayden in Poetry, copyright © 1977 by William Logan, used by permission of the author. First published in Poetry. Logbridge-Rhodes. From article by Dave Smith in Homage to Robert Penn Warren, Frank Graziano, ed. London Magazine. From articles by Malcolm Bradbury on Purdy, Simon Raven on Selby, Alan Ross on Plath. London Review of Books. Jeremy Harding’s piece ‘‘Junk Mail,’’ first published in London Review of Books, volume 15, number 18, 23rd September 1996. Los Angeles Times Book Review, February 5, 1989; March 29, 1992; April 12, 1992; April 17, 1994. Copyright, 1989, 1992, 1994, Los Angeles Times. All reproduced by permission. xxvi
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Louisiana State University Press. From essays by Haskell Block on Stevens, on Tate; Leonard Casper on O’Connor; Olga W. Vickery on L. Jones in The Shaken Realist, Melvin J. Friedman and John B. Vickery, eds.; Herbert Schneidau, Ezra Pound: The Image and the Real; Lewis P. Simpson, The Man of Letters in New England and the South (Howells); Grosvenor Powell, Language as Being in the Poetry of Yvor Winters; James Justus, The Achievement of Robert Penn Warren; Robert S. Dupree, Allen Tate and the Augustinian Imagination; articles by Lewis P. Simpson on Faulkner, William Harmon on Ammons in The American South: Portrait of a Culture, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., ed.; Sherman Paul, Repossessing and Renewing (W. C. Williams); George S. Lensing and Ronald Moran, Four Poets and the Emotive Imagination (Bly, Stafford, J. Wright); Michael Kreyling, Eudora Welty’s Achievement of Order; Louise Kertesz, The Poetic Vision of Muriel Rukeyser; Louis D. Rubin, Jr., The Wary Fugitives: Four Poets and the South (Ransom); Carol Shloss, Flannery O’Connor’s Dark Comedies: The Limits of Inference; article by Ted R. Spivey in The Art of Walker Percy: Stratagems for Being, Panthea Reid Broughton, ed.; C. Hugh Holman, The Loneliness at the Core: Studies in Thomas Wolfe. Jack Ludwig. From article on Singer in Midstream. Thomas J. Lyon. From article on Snyder in Kansas Quarterly. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. From Jerry H. Bryant, The Open Decision Copyright © 1970 by The Free Press, a Division of The Macmillan Company (Vonnegut); Denis Donoghue, The Ordinary Universe. Copyright © 1968 by Denis Donoghue (Burke, Eliot, Fitzgerald, H. James, Jarrell, Moore, O’Neill, Pound, W. C. Williams); Theodore L. Gross. The Heroic Ideal in American Literature. Copyright © 1971 by Theodore L. Gross (Ellison, Hemingway, Mailer, Salinger, R. Wright); John McCormick, The Middle Distance. Copyright © 1971 by The Free Press, a Division of The Macmillan Company (Anderson, Lewis); Gerald Weales, The Jumping-Off Place. Copyright © 1969 by Gerald Weales (Albee. L. Jones, Lowell, A. Miller, Shepard); Charles Doyle, William Carlos Williams and the American Poem. Melvin Maddocks. From article on Gardner in The Atlantic Monthly. Karl Malkoff. From article on Rexroth in The Southern Review. Paul Mariani for his excerpt on Lowell. The Markham Review. From article by Jean Frantz Blackall on Frederic; James Rambeau on Hurston. The Massachusetts Review, for the quotations from The Massachusetts Review, which are copyrighted © 1965, 1966, by The Massachusetts Review, Inc.; for articles by Richard E. Baldwin on R. Wright. Copyright © 1973 by The Massachusetts Review, Inc.; E. M. Beekman on Chandler, on Hammett, on Himes. Copyright © 1973 by The Massachusetts Review, Inc.; William C. Fischer on L. Jones. Copyright © 1973 by The Massachusetts Review, Inc.; Josephine Jacobsen on Viereck. Copyright © 1968 by The Massachusetts Review, Inc.; Donald Junkins on Creeley. Copyright © 1968 by The Massaschusetts Review, Inc.; Paul Mariani on W. C. Williams. Copyright © 1972 by The Massachusetts Review, Inc.; M. L. Rosenthal on Olson. Copyright © 1971 by The Massachusetts Review, Inc. All reprinted by permission from The Massachusetts Review; Wilburn Williams, Jr., on Hayden. Reprinted from The Massachusetts Review, © 1979 by The Massachusetts Review, Inc. Harold Matson Company, Inc. From Steven Marcus’s Introduction to The Continental Op (Hammett). John R. May. From article on Chopin in The Southern Review. Michael McClure. From essay in Sam Shepard, Mad Dog Blues, and Other Plays. Jerome McGann. From article on Creeley in Poetry. McIntosh and Otis, Inc., for permission for the British Commonwealth for the excerpt from Ambrose Bierce by Richard O’Connor, and for the excerpt from Jack London by Richard O’Connor. David McKay Company. From essays by Robert Boyers on Jeffers; Jan B. Gordon on Frost; William Heyen on Snodgrass; John Logan on Cummings; H. R. Wolf on Robinson, in Modern American Poetry, Jerome Mazzaro, ed. Copyright © 1970 by the David McKay Company, Inc. Reprinted with permission of xxvii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE the publisher; Benjamin Nelson, Arthur Miller: Portrait of a Playwright. Copyright © 1970 by Benjamin Nelson. Reprinted with the permission of the publishers. McNelly, Willis E. From ‘‘Ray Bradbury: Past, Present, and Future’’ in Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers, Vol. 1. Edited by Thomas D. Clareson. Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1976. Copyright © 1976 Bowling Green University Popular Press. Reproduced by permission. Mediterranean Review. From articles by Robert DeMaria on Wakoski; Ellen Hope Meyer on Oates. MELUS. From article by Vilma Raskin Potter on Hayden. Reprinted from MELUS, the journal of the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, by permission. Copyright © Spring 1994, Melus, The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, excerpts from the article on Toni Morrison by Cheryl Hall. Copyright © Winter 1988, Melus, The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, excerpts from the article on Nathanael West by Stacey Olster. V. 7, Winter, 1980; v. 11, Fall, 1984. Copyright, MELUS, The Society for the Study of MultiEthnic Literature of the United States, 1980, 1984. Both reproduced by permission. Ronald E. Merrill. From The Ideas of Ayn Rand. Open Court, 1991.Copyright 1991 by Ronald E. Merrill. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of Open Court Publishing Company, a division of Carus Publishing Company, Peru, IL. The Michigan Quarterly Review. From articles by Cleanth Brooks on Tate; Robert Stilwell on Ammons; John W. Aldridge on Cowley, Gerald Barrett on Kosinski; Richard L. Rubenstein on Styron; excerpts on Norman Mailer by Stacy Olster. Copyright © Spring 1987 and reprinted with the permission of Michigan Quarterly Review. Excerpts on Don DeLillo by John Kucich. Copyright © Spring 1987 and reprinted with the permission of Michigan Quarterly Review. Excerpts on Joseph Heller by John W. Aldridge. Copyright © Spring 1987 and reprinted with the permission of Michigan Quarterly Review. Midstream. From articles by Baruch Hochman on Singer; Jack Ludwig on Singer; Cynthia Ozick on Calisher; excerpts from article on F. Scott Fitzgerald by J. Meyers which appeared in Midstream. Copyright © 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Midstream. Excerpts from article on Bernard Malamud by Douglas Century which appeared in Midstream. Copyright © 1990 and reprinted with the permission of Midstream. Excerpts from article on E. Pound by Robert Michael which appeared in Midstream. Copyright © 1991 and reprinted with the permission of Midstream. The Midwest Quarterly. From article by David Madden on Morris; for excerpts on Truman Capote by Chris Anderson. Copyright © Spring 1987 and reprinted with the permission of The Midwest Quarterly. Nicolaus Mills. From article on Kesey in The Centennial Review. Ralph J. Mills, Jr. From article on Kinnell in The Iowa Review. The Mississippi Quarterly. From article by James E. Rocks on Gordon; from ‘‘Chief Joseph, General Howard, Colonel Miles: Notes on the Historical Context of Characterization in Robert Penn Warren’s Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce’’ by Allen G. Shepherd III. Published in Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1, Winter 1985–86, pp. 21–23, copyright 1986, Mississippi State University, Mississippi. Modern Drama. From Leland Starnes, ‘‘The Grotesque Children of The Rose Tattoo’’ (T. Williams); Jack V. Barbera on Mamet; v. XXVII, December, 1984. © 1984 University of Toronto, Graduate Centre for Study of Drama. Reproduced by permission. Modern Fiction Studies. Excerpts from the Martin Light article on Sinclair Lewis which appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Fall 1985, pp. 480–82. Copyright © 1985. Reprinted by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. Excerpts from the Eric J. Schroeder article on Robert Stone which appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Spring 1984, pp. 154–5. Copyright © 1984. Reprinted by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. Excerpts from the Stacey Olster article on John Updike which appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Spring 1991, pp. 57–8. Copyright © 1991. Reprinted by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. Excerpts from the John Vickery article on John Barth which appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Summer 1992, p. 429. Copyright © 1992. Reprinted by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. xxviii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Modern Language Association of America, for excerpts from the following articles, reprinted by permissions of the Modern Language Association: from Julia Cluck’s ‘‘Elinor Wylie’s Shelley Obsession,’’ PMLA, LVI (Sept., 1941); from Stanley Greenfield’s ‘‘The Unmistakable Stephen Crane,’’ PMLA, LXXIII (December, 1958); from James G. Hepburn’s ‘‘E. A. Robinson’s System of Opposites,’’ PMLA, LXXX (June, 1965); from Benjamin T. Spencer’s ‘‘Pound: The American Strain,’’ PMLA, LXXXI (December, 1966); from Frank Doggett, ‘‘The Transition from Harmonium: Factors in the Development of Steven’s Later Poetry,’’ PMLA 88. Copyright © 1973 by Modern Language Association of America; Philip L. Gerber, ‘‘The Financier Himself: Dreiser and C.T. Yerkes,’’ PMLA 88. Copyright © 1973 by Modern Language Association of America; Paul N. Siegel, ‘‘The Conclusion of Richard Wright’s Native Son,’’ PMLA 89. Copyright © 1974 by Modern Language Association of America. Reprinted by permission. Modern Language Quarterly. Kathleen Verduin. ‘‘Sex, Nature, and Dualism in The Witches of Eastwick,’’ Modern Language Quarterly, 46:3 (September 1985), pp. 293–315. Copyright University of Washington, 1985. Reprinted with permission. Modern Poetry Studies. From articles by Thomas A. Duddy on Zukofsky; Neil Schmitz on Reed; Ruth Quebe on Bishop; William Aiken on Ginsberg; Jean D. Rosenbaum on Piercy. Ellen Moers, for the excerpt from her article on Theodore Dreiser in the American Scholar (Winter, 1963–64), to be published in her book, Two Dreisers (Viking). Charles Molesworth. From article on Kinnell in The Western Humanities Review John Rees Moore. From article on Warren in The Southern Review. Edwin Morgan. From article on Thomas McGuane in The Listener. William Morris Agency, Inc., for the excerpt from Principles and Persuasions by Anthony West, copyright © 1952 by Anthony West; for Robert Nemiroff’s Foreword and James Baldwin’s Preface in To Be Young, Gifted and Black by Lorraine Hansberry, adapted by Robert Nemiroff. Reprinted by permission of William Morris Agency. Inc. Copyright © 1969 by Robert Nemiroff and Robert Nemiroff as Executor of the Estate of Lorraine Hansberry and Copyright © 1969 by James Baldwin. William Morrow & Company, Inc., for the excerpt from Stephen Crane by John Berryman, copyright © 1950 by William Sloane Associates, Inc.; for the excerpt from Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta by Finis Farr, copyright © 1965 by Finis Farr and Stephens Mitchell; Michel Fabre, The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright. Copyright © 1973 by William Morrow and Company, Inc.; Hugh Kenner, Bucky. Copyright © 1973 by Hugh Kenner (Fuller); Alex de Jonge in Vladimir Nabokov—A Tribute, Peter Quennell, ed., published by William Morrow & Co., Inc., Publishers. Mosaic. From article by Stanley Corngold on Kosinski in Mosaic: A Journal of the Comparative Study of Literature and Ideas published by the University of Manitoba Press, Volume VI, No. 4; article by Stephanie A. Demetrakopoulos on Nin in Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 12, 2 (Winter 1978), 121–22; ‘‘Quantum Physics and the Ouija-Board: James Merrill’s Holistic World View,’’ by C.A. Buckley. This article originally appeared in Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, volume 26, number 2 (Spring 1993). ‘‘Between the wave and particle’: Figuring Science in Howard Nemerov’s Poems,’’ by Miriam Marty Clark. This article originally appeared in Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, volume 24, number 4 (Fall 1990), published by the University of Manitoba, to whom acknowledgment is herewith made. Mother Jones. From article by Katha Pollitt on Roth. Ms. Magazine. From articles by Barbara Smith on Walker, Ms. Magazine, February 1974; Vivian Gornick on Hellman, Ms. Magazine, August 1976; Brigitte Weeks on Godwin, Ms. Magazine, January 1982; Gloria Steinem on Walker, Ms. Magazine, June 1982. Lisel Mueller. From article on Snyder in Poetry. xxix
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Multicultural Review. Excerpts from the Joseph Milicia article on Kay Boyle which appeared in Multicultural Review, April 1992, p. 73. Copyright © 1992. Reprinted by permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. Philip Murray. From article on Wilbur in poetry. The Nation. Excerpts from the Ray Gonzalez article on Rudolfo Anaya which appeared in The Nation magazine, July 18, 1994, pp. 98, 100. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine, © 1994 The Nation Company L.P. Excerpts from the Randall Kenan article on James Baldwin which appeared in The Nation, May 2, 1994, p. 596. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine, © 1994 The Nation Company L.P. Excerpts from the T. Solotaroff article on E.L. Doctorow which appeared in The Nation, June 6, 1994, p. 790. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine, © 1994 The Nation Company L.P. Excerpts from the Steven Moore article on W. Gaddis which appeared in The Nation, April 25, 1994. p. 505. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine.© 1994 The Nation Company L.P. Excerpts from the Jill Nelson article on H.L. Gates which appeared in The Nation, June 6, 1994. p. 795. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine, © 1994 The Nation Company L.P. Excerpts from the J. Montefiore article on Adrienne Rich which appeared in The Nation, Feb. 7, 1994, pp. 169–70. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine © 1994 The Nation Company L.P. Excerpts from the Barbara Kingsolver article on T.C. Boyle which appeared in The Nation, Sept. 25, 1955. pp. 326–27. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine, © 1955 The Nation Company L.P. The Nation, New York, v. 208, February 24, 1969; February 2, 1970; v. 224, June 18, 1977; v. 225, September 17, 1977; v. 234, April 3, 1982; v. 235, November 27, 1982; v. 240, April 27, 1985; v. 243, November 1, 1986; v. 244, January 24, 1987; v. 244, May 16, 1987; v. 249, October 16, 1989; v. 250, January 1, 1990; v. 255, December 14, 1992; May 6, 1996. © 1969, 1970, 1977, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1996 The Nation magazine/ The Nation Company, Inc. All reproduced by permission. The National Council of Teachers of English, for permission to use excerpts from articles in College English, cited in text; for permission to use excerpts from articles in English Journal, cited in text; for the excerpt from the article by Susan Friedman on Doolittle in College English. National Poetry Foundation. From article by Carroll F. Terrell in Louis Zukofsky: Man and Poet, Carroll F. Terrell, ed.; articles by Mary Bryan, Gayle Gaskill in May Sarton: Woman and Poet, Constance Hunting, ed. National Review, for excerpts from articles by John Dos Passos and Hugh Kenner, Guy Davenport on Didion, on Gardner, on Zukofsky: Theodore Sturgeon on Vonnegut: Geoffrey Wagner on Wilder, cited in text, permission granted by National Review, 150 East 35th Street, New York, N.Y. 10016. Howard Nemerov. From Reflexions on Poetry & Poetics (Aiken, Burke). Stella A. Nesanovich. From article on Tyler in The Southern Review. The New Criterion. Excerpts from the James W. Tuttleton article on Edith Wharton which appeared in The Nation, March 1989, pp. 13–14. Reprinted with permission from New Criterion © 1989. New Directions Publishing Corporation, for the excerpt from the Introduction by Leslie Fiedler to The Lime Twig by John Hawkes, copyright © 1949 by New Directions; for the excerpt from the Introduction by Albert Guerard to The Cannibal by John Hawkes, Copyright © 1961 by New Directions; for the excerpts from Assays by Kenneth Rexroth, copyright © 1961 by Kenneth Rexroth; and for the excerpt from the Introduction by Mark Van Doren to Selected Poems by Thomas Merton, copyright © 1959 by New Directions Publishing Corporation and Mark Van Doren; for Robert Creely’s Introduction to Charles Olson: Selected Writings Copyright © 1966 by Charles Olson. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation: American Free Verse by Walter Sutton. Copyright © 1973 by Walter Sutton. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation (Snyder); for the excerpt from article by Mark Johnson and Robert DeMott in Robert Duncan: Scales of the Marvelous; Robert J. Berthoff and Ian W. Reid, eds., copyright © 1979 by New Directions Publishing Corporation, reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation; article by Enid Veron in A John Hawkes Symposium: Design and Debris, Anthony C. Santore and Michael Pocalyko, eds., copyright © 1977 by New Directions Publishing Corporation, reprinted by permission of New Directions; excerpts from Robert Creeley and the xxx
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Genius of the American Common Place by Tom Clark. Copyright © 1993 by Tom Clark. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. New England Review. From article by Ejner J. Jensen on Wilbur, New England Review 2, 4 (1980), 594–95; excerpts from the Allen Shepherd article on C. McCarthy which appeared in New England Review, Winter 1994, pp. 176–77, 178–79. Copyright © 1994. New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly, v. 6, Winter, 1983 for "Marvin Bell: Essays, Interviews, Poems” by David Baker. Copyright © 1983 by Kenyon Hill Publications, Inc. Reproduced by permission of the author. The New Leader, for the excerpts reprinted with permission from The New Leader of Feb. 15, 1965, April 16, 1962, April 30, 1962, Aug. 5, 1963, Feb. 15, 1965, Oct. 28, 1963, and April 11, 1966; from articles by Akbert Bermel on Bullins; Stephen Stepanchev on Wakoski; Shimon Wincelberg on Singer; Paula Meinetz Shapiro on Walker, Jan. 25. 1971, reprinted with permission from The New Leader; article by Pearl K. Bell on Irving, Nov. 25, 1974, reprinted with permission from The New Leader; article by Daphne Merkin on Updike, Dec. 4, 1978, reprinted with permission from The New Leader; G. Searles article on Ken Kesey which appeared in The New Leader, Jan. 14, 1991. pp. 20–21. Reprinted with permission of The New Leader, 1996. Copyright © the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. Excerpts from the John Simon article on Randall Jarrell which appeared in The New Leader, May 14–28, 1990. p. 13. Reprinted with permission of The New Leader, 1996. Copyright © the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. Excerpts from the Phoebe Pettingell article on Howard Nemerov which appeared in The New Leader, Dec. 30. 1994, pp. 27–28. Reprinted with permission of The New Leader, 1996. Copyright © the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. Excerpts from the George J. Searles article on John Updike which appeared in The New Leader, Oct. 1–15, 1990, p. 21. Reprinted with permission of The New Leader, 1996. Copyright © the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. Excerpts from the Stefan Kanfer article on August Wilson which appeared in The New Leader, May 4, 1992. p. 21. Reprinted with permission of The New Leader, 1996. Copyright © the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. Excerpts from the John Simon article on Mary McCarthy which appeared in The New Leader, June 1, 1992, pp. 23–4. Reprinted with permission of The New Leader, 1996. Copyright © the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. Vol. LV, October 16, 1972; v. LXXVI, April 5, 1993. © 1972, 1993 by The American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. Reproduced by permission. New Orleans Review. Excerpts from article on John Ashbery by Paul Munn which appeared in New Orleans Review, Copyright © 1992 and reprinted with the permission of New Orleans Review. Excerpts from article on Robert Bly by Jeffrey Alan Triggs which appeared in New Orleans Review. Copyright © 1992 and reprinted with the permission of New Orleans Review. The New Republic. For articles by Calvin Bedient on Hawkes; Robert Brustein on Shepard; Lincoln Caplan on Buechner; William F. Clarie on Van Doren; Robert Coles on Salinger; Malcolm Cowley on Wilson; Louis Coxe on Garrigue; J. Michael Crichton on Vonnegut; James Finn on Kosinski; Lloyd Frankenberg on Goodman; Richard Gilman on Gass; Doris Grumbach on Sarton; Josephine Jacobsen on Levertov; Stanley Kauffmann on Doctorow, on J. O’Hara, on Rabe, on Saroyan; William Kennedy on Gardner; Hilton Kramer on Howard; W. T. Lhamon, Jr., on Pynchon; Robert Littel on Toomer; Townsend Ludington on Dos Passos; Irving Malin on Calisher; Saul Maloff on Algren, on Plath; Willie Morris on Capote; Herbert J. Muller on Mencken; Marjorie G. Perloff on Lowell; Jack Richardson on Kesey; Charles Thomas Samuels on Connell, on Vonnegut; Webster Schoot on Connell; John Seelye on Mailer; Charles Shapiro on Oates; Barbara Smith on Reed; John Wain on Cheever; James Walt on Hellman; Reed Whittemore on Auden, on Condon, on Cummings; Jonathan Yardley on Auchincloss, on Brautigan, on Faulkner, on London, on Sheed; anon on Malamud; Irving Howe on Olsen; Robert Brustein on Guare, Kopit, Mamet, L. Wilson; Richard Gilman on Malamud; Sontag; John Seelye on Piercy: Clancy Sigal on Elkin; Robert Scholes on Le Guin; Rosellen Brown on Ozick; Thomas LeClair on Gass; Josephine Hendin on Gardner; Joyce Carol Oates on Olsen; Nicholas Delbanco on Tyler; Noah Perrin on Cozzens; Daphne Merkin on J. Bowles; Edith Milton on Godwin; Harold Bloom on Hollander; Jack Beatty on Irving, Theroux; Bruce Allen on Morris; Ira Kapp on Berger; Ann Hulburt on Rossner; Leo Braudy on Sontag; Stefan Kanfer on Vidal; Helen Vendler on Sexton; Robert Alter on Malamud. Reprinted by permission of The New Republic, copyright © 1923, 1942, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 The New Republic, Inc. For v. 169, October 6, 1973; August 10 & 17, 1974; v. 178, February 11, 1978; v. 178, June 17, 1978; v. 191, October 8, 1984; xxxi
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE v. 198, May 16, 1988; v. 203, September 24, 1990; v. 203, December 31, 1990; v. 208, May 24, 1993. © 1973, 1974, 1978, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1993 The New Republic, Inc. All reproduced by permission of The New Republic. New Statesman. From articles by Walter Allen on Sheed; A, Alvarez on Hansberry; Neal Ascherson on Connel; Brigid Brophy on Calisher; Alan Brownjohn on Kinnell; Miles Burrows on Coover; Janice Elliott on Zukofsky; Clive Jordan on Yurick; Susan Knight on Gardner; v. 74, October 20, 1967; v. 82, October 22, 1971; v. 96, December 1, 1978. © 1967, 1971, 1978 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd. All reproduced by permission. New Statesman & Society, v. 3, January 19, 1990; v. 6, December 3, 1993. © 1990, 1993 The Statesman and Nation Publishing Co. Ltd. Both reproduced by permission of the publisher. Newsweek, for excerpts from book reviews, copyright © Newsweek, Inc., Jan.-April, 1967; from articles by Walter Clemons on Berger, on Lowell, on Pynchon; Arthur Cooper on Calisher; Rebert A. Gross on Reed; Jack Kroll on Drexler, on Gass, on Rabe, on T. Williams; Peter S. Prescott on Auden, on Brautigan, on Coover, on Doctorow, on Macdonald, on Ozick; Geoffery Wolff on Gass; Robert A. Gross on Angelou; Jack Kroll on L. Wilson; Peter S. Prescott on Barth, Le Guin, Roth, and Walker; Raymond Sokolov on Morrison. Copyright © 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 by Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission. Vol. CIV, September 24, 1984. © 1984 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission. The New Yorker. From articles by Penelope Gilliatt on De Vries; Edith Oliver on Bullins, on Horovitz, on Vonnegut, on Kopit, on Mamet; L. E. Sissman on McGuane, on Pynchon; Kenneth Tynan on Hansberry; v. 44, February 15, 1969 from "The First Hurrah" by Edith Oliver. © 1969 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. Excerpted by permission. New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, July 10, 1960. Copyright © 1960 by The New York Times Company. Reproduced by permission. New York Magazine. From articles by John Simon, ‘‘Rabe,’’ copyright © 1973 by the NYM Corp, on Kopit, L. Wilson, copyright © 1978, 1979 by News Group Publications, Inc. Excerpted with the permission of New York Magazine. The New York Review of Books, for excerpts from reviews dated 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967; from articles by Robert M. Adams on Bathelme, on Fitzgerald; John Ashbery on Ammons; Eve Auchincloss on Calisher; F.W. Bateson on Gardner; Joseph Brodsky on Kunitz; D. S. Carne-Ross on Gardner; Denis Donoghue on Ashbbery, on Snodgrass, on Winters; Thomas R. Edwards on Baldwin, on Bukowski, on Mailer, on Reed; Irvin Ehrenpreis on Wharton, on Updike; R. W. Flint on Kinnell; William Gass on Faulkner; Elizabeth Hardwick on Plath, on Rahv; Geoffrey Hartman on Macarthy; V. S. Pritchett on Singer; Jack Richardson on Kerouac, on Nabokov; Christopher Ricks on Coover, on Oates; Philip Roth on Malamud; Roger Sale on Doctorow, on Elliott, on Fuller, on Mumford; Susan Sontag on Goodman; Stephen Spender on Ammons, on Merrill, on Merwin; Jean Stafford on Chopin; Donald Sutherland on Stein; John Thompson on Heller; Virgil Thomson on Bowles, on Stein; Rosemary Tonks on Garrigue; Gore Vidal on Auchincloss; John Wain on Dahlberg; Michael Wood on Barth, on Connell, on Gass, on Drexler, on McGuane, on Mailer, on Welty; for excerpts from essay on Sinclair Lewis by Gore Vidal which appeared in The New York Review of Books, Oct. 8, 1992, pp. 14, 20. Excerpts from essay on Gore Vidal by Diane Johnson which appeared in The New York Review of Books, Apr. 8, 1993, p. 25. Excerpts from essay on T. C. Boyle by Paul Auster which appeared in The New York Review of Books, Jan. 17, 1991, p. 32. Excerpts from essay on Charles Johnson by Gary Wills which appeared in The New York Review of Books, Jan. 17, 1991, p. 3. Excerpts from essay on Robert Stone by Robert M. Adams which appeared in The New York Review of Books, Mar. 26, 1992, pp. 29–32. Excerpts from essay on Richard Ford by E. Hardwick which appeared in The New York Review of Books, Aug. 10, 1995, pp. 11–14. Reprinted with permission from The New York Review of Books. Copyright © Nyrev, Inc. 1963–1975; copyright © 1991–95 NYREV, Inc. Vol. IX, October 12, 1967; v. XXII, March 6, 1975; v. XXVI, April 19, 1979; v. XXXVI, February 16, 1989. Copyright © 1967, 1975, 1979, 1989 Nyrev, Inc. All reproduced with permission from The New York Review of Books. The New York Times, for excerpts from reviews and articles in The New York Times Book Review, Magazine, Arts & Leisure section, and daily New York Times cited in text, copyright © 1919, 1921, 1925, xxxii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 1926, 1929, 1933, 1934, 1939, 1940, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 by The New York Times Company. Also October 13, 1966; November 13, 1968; February 24, 1974; June 5, 1974; November 1, 1981; November 27, 1981; June 27, 1982; August 22, 1983; September 2, 1983; September 13, 1984; August 24, 1987; August 5, 1988; June 10, 1989. Copyright © 1966, 1968, 1974, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989 by The New York Times Company. All reproduced by permission. The New York Times Book Review, July 1, 1951; October 30, 1955; October 28, 1956; September 13, 1970; July 13, 1972; September 17, 1972; September 24, 1972; March 24, 1974; July 10, 1977; October 2, 1977; February 19, 1978; August 17, 1980; November 2, 1980; December 7, 1980; January 11, 1981; November 22, 1981; March 21, 1982; April 11, 1982; May 15, 1983; September 4, 1983; March 18, 1984; April 29, 1984; September 2, 1984; November 25, 1984; January 19, 1986; July 6, 1986; September 28, 1986; October 12, 1986; March 22, 1987; January 10, 1988; October 21, 1990; June 30, 1991; June 7, 1992; September 6, 1992; February 14, 1993; April 4, 1993; March 27, 1994; July 30, 1995. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1956, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 by The New York Times Company. All reproduced by permission. New York University Press. From Irving Buchen, Isacc Bashevis Singer and the Eternal Past; essay by Michael Fixler in Critical Views of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Irving Malin, ed.; Joyce B. Markle, Fighters and Lovers: Theme in the Novels of John Updike; Larzer Ziff and John Wain, in Edmund Wilson: The Man and the Work, John Wain, ed.; Louis F. Kannenstine, The Art of Djuna Barnes: Duality and Damnation; John Haffenden, John Berryman: A Critical Commentary. Excerpts from Gay Men’s Literature in the 20th Century by Mark Lilly. Copyright © 1993. Reprinted with the permission of New York University Press. Excerpts from Eliot Possessed by Vinnie-Marie D’Ambrosio. Copyright © 1988. Reprinted with the permission of New York University Press. George W. Nitchie. From article on Lowell in The Southern Review. The North American Review, v. 275, December, 1990. Copyright © 1990 by the University of Iowa. Reproduced by permission from The North American Review. Northeastern University Press. From Samuel J. Bernstein, The Strands Entwined: A New Direction in American Drama (Rabe). Excerpts from Reading and Writing Nature: The Poetry of Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, and Elizabeth Bishop by Guy L. Rotella. Copyright © 1991 by Guy Rotella. Reprinted with the permission of Northeastern University Press, Boston. Northern Light. From article by William Heyen on Bly in The Far Point. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. From Carolyn G. Heilbrun’s Introduction to May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Excerpts from Kenneth Rexroth and James Laughlin: Selected Letters by Lee Bartlett, editor. Copyright © 1991 by The Kenneth Trust and James Laughlin. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Excerpts from A Life of Kenneth Rexroth by Linda Hamalian. Copyright © 1991 by Linda Hamalian. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Excerpts from Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell by Paul Mariani. Copyright © 1994 by Paul Mariani. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Notes on Contemporary Literature. Excerpts from article on William Kennedy by Edward C. Reilly which appeared in Notes on Contemporary Literature (May 1989). Copyright © 1989 and reprinted with the permission of Notes on Contemporary Literature. Notes on Mississippi Writers, v. VIII, Spring, 1975. Reproduced by permission. Novel. From articles by Joseph S. Salemi on Gaddis, Jackson J. Benson on Steinbeck. Joyce Carol Oates. From articles on Roth in American Poetry Review; on Plath, on Taylor in The Southern Review. Obsidian. From article by Norman Harris on Reed. xxxiii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE The Ohio Review. From article by Richard Howard on Strand, originally published in The Ohio Review; excerpts on D. Levertov by Donald Revell. Copyright © Spring 1990. Reprinted with the permission of The Ohio Review. Ohio State University Press. From Todd M. Lieber’s Endless Experiments: Essays on the Heroic Experience in American Romanticism (Stevens. W.C. Williams); from Kathleen Woodward, ‘‘At Last, The Real Distinguished Thing’’: The Late Poems of Eliot, Pound, Stevens, and Williams, copyright © 1980 by the Ohio State University Press, all rights reserved; used by permission of the author and publisher (Eliot, Pound, Stevens, W. C. Williams). Ohio University Press. From Max F. Schulz, Black Humor Fiction of the Sixties (Barth, Friedman, Pynchon); Sharon Spencer, Collage of Dreams: The Writings of Anaïs Nin; Benjamin Franklin V and Duane Schneider, Anaïs Nin: An Introduction; John O. Stark, Pynchon’s Fictions: Thomas Pynchon and the Literature of Information; Laura Adams, Existential Battles: The Growth of Norman Mailer; Elizabeth Isaacs, An Introduction to the Poetry of Yvor Winters. Excerpts from The Uncollected Edmund Wilson, edited by Janet Groth and David Castronovo. Copyright © 1995. Reprinted with the permission of Ohio University Press. The Open Court Publishing Company. From Roy Fuller. Owls and Artificers (Moore. Stevens). Opportunity. From Article by Gorham B. Munsion on Toomer. Reprinted with Permission of the National Urban League. Oregon State University. From article by Jackson J. Benson in The Fiction of Bernard Malamud, Jackson J. Benson, ed. Alicia Ostriker. From article on Dugan in Partisan Review. Peter Owen, Ltd., for permission for the British Commonwealth for excerpts from The Landscape of Nightmare by Jonathan Baumbach, F. Scott Fitzgerald by James E. Miller. Oxford University Press (England), for the excerpt from Image of the City and Other Essays by Charles Williams; for permission for the British Commonwealth for the excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s Dramatic Theory and Practice by C. H. Smith. Oxford University Press, Inc., for excerpts, as follows: The Colloquial Style in America by Richard Bridgman. Copyright © 1966 by Richard Bridgman; from The Poetry of Robert Frost by Reuben Brower. Copyright © 1963 by Reuben A. Brower; from Ezra Pound by Donald Davie. Copyright © 1964 by Donald Davie; from The Thought of Reinhold Niebuhr by Gordon Harland. Copyright © 1960 by Oxford University Press, Inc.; from Form and Fable in American Fiction by Daniel G. Hoffman. Copyright © 1961 by Daniel G. Hoffman; from The Partial Critics by Lee T. Lemon. Copyright © 1965 by Lee T. Lemon; from American Renaissance by F. O. Mathiessen. Copyright © 1941 by Oxford University Press, Inc.; from The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills. Copyright © 1956 by Oxford University Press, Inc.; from The New Poets by M. L. Rosenthal. Copyright © 1967 by M. L. Rosenthal; from The Modern Poets by M. L. Rosenthal. Copyright © 1960 by M. L. Rosenthal; from F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoon by Robert Sklar. Copyright © 1967 by Robert Sklar; from The Poetry of W. H. Auden by Monroe K. Speares, Copyright © 1963 by Monroe K. Spears; from The American Historian by Harvey Wish. Copyright © 1960 by Oxford University Press, Inc.; from Harlem Renaissance by Nathan Irvin Huggins. Copyright © 1971 by Oxford University Press. Inc. (Cullen, Hughes, O’Neill); Richard Eberhart: The Progress of an American Poet by Joel Roaches. Copyright © 1971 by Joel Roaches; The Fabulators by Robert Scholes. Copyright © 1967 by Robert Scholes (Vonnegut); Dionysus and the City: Modernism in TwentiethCentury Poetry by Monroe K. Spears. Copyright © 1970 by Monroe K. Spears (Berryman, Dickey, Ransom, Roethke, Tate); Science and Sentiment in America: Philosophical Thought from Jonathan Edwards to John Dewey by Morton White. Copyright © 1972 by Morton White (W. James, Santayana); David Kalstone, Five Temperaments: Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, James Merrill, Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, copyright © 1977 by David Kalstone (Merrill, Rich); Richard Poirier, Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing, copyright © 1977 by Oxford University Press, Inc.; Cynthia Griffin Wolff, A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton, copyright © 1977 by Oxford University Press, Inc.; Richard H. King, A Southern Renaissance: The Cultural Awakening of the American South, 1930–1955, copyright © 1980 by Oxford University Press, Inc. (Wolfe). Excerpts from ‘‘Whatever You Do Don’t Go to the Joking, xxxiv
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Rhetoric and Homosexuality in the Orators,’’ in Auden Studies 2 by Richard Bozorth, ed. K. Bucknell and N. Jenkins. Copyright © 1994. All of the above reprinted by permission. Cynthia Ozick. From an article on Calisher in Midstream. Paideuma. From article by M. L. Rosenthal on Pound. Pan American University. From article by James M. Haule in James Dickey: Splintered Sunlight, Patricia de la Fuente, ed.; article by Andrew Macdonald and Gina Macdonald in Larry McMurtry: Unredeemed Dreams, Dorey Schmidt, ed. Papers on Language and Literature. Excerpts from the essay on William Styron by Daniel Ross which originally appeared in Papers on Language and Literature. Copyright © 1994. Parnassus. From articles by Rosellen Brown on Sarton, Donald Davie on Lowell, R.W. Flint on Stickney, on Wheelwright, Diane Middlebrook on Ginsberg, Ralph J. Mills. Jr. on Eberhart, Levertov, and MacLeish; Eric Mottram on Levertov; M. L. Rosenthal on Creeley; Muriel Rukeyser on Sexton; Richard Saez on Merrill; Robert Stock on Nemerov; Helen Vendler on Rich; Larry Vonalt on Berryman; Robert Weisberg on Lattimore; Thomas R. Whitaker on Aiken; Bonnie Costello on Levertov; Margaret Atwood on Jong; Robert B. Shaw on Wilbur; Rosemary Johnson on Swenson; Guy Davenport on Olson; Alan Helms on Meredith; Paul Ramsey on Nemerov; excerpts from Evelyn Reilly’s review on John Ashbery’s Flow Chart which appeared in Volume 17, No. 2/Vol. 18, No. 1. Reprinted by permission of Parnassus. Partisan Review, for excerpts from reviews and articles, cited in text, © 1941, 1947, 1951, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 by Partisan Review. Also from Calvin Bedient, ‘‘Blind Mouths’’ Copyright © 1972 by Partisan Review (Oates); Calvin Bedient, ‘‘In Dreams Begin.’’ Copyright © 1971 by Partisan Review (West); John Malcolm Brinnin, ‘‘Plath, Jarrell, Kinnell, Smith.’’ Copyright © 1967 by Partisan Review (Plath); Peter Brooks, ‘‘The Melodramatic Imagination.’’ Copyright © 1972 by Partisan Review (H. James); Elizabeth Dalton, ‘‘Ada or Nana.’’ Copyright ©1970 by Partisan Review (Nabokov); Martin Duberman, ‘‘Theater 69.’’ Copyright ©1969 by Partisan Review (Bullins, Hansberry); Thomas R. Edwards, ‘‘The Indian Wants the Bronx.’’Copyright © 1968 by Partisan Review (Fiedler): G. S. Fraser. ‘‘The Magicians.’’ Copyright © 1971 by Partisan Review (Howard): G. S. Fraser, ‘‘A Pride of Poets.’’ Copyright ©1968 by Partisan Review (Zukofsky); Alan Helms, ‘‘Growing Up Together.’’ Copyright © 1972 by Partisan Review (Ashbery); Maureen Howard, ‘‘Other Voices.’’ Copyright © 1968 by Partisan Review (Bowles); Richard Howard, ‘‘Changes.’’ Copyright © 1971 by Partisan Review (Rich); David Kalstone, ‘‘All Eye.’’ Copyright © 1970 by Partisan Review (Bishop); Kenneth Koch, ‘‘Poetry Chronicles.’’ Copyright © 1961 by Partisan Review (F. O’Hara): Norman Martien, ‘‘I Hear America Singing.’’ Copyright © 1971 by Partisan Review (Warren); Alicia Ostriker, ‘‘Of Being Numerous.’’ copyright © 1972 by Partisan Review (Dugan); Jane Richmond. ‘‘To the End of the Night.’’ Copyright © 1972 by Partisan Review (McGuane); Philip Stevick, ‘‘Voice and Vision.’’ Copyright © 1974 by Partisan Review, Inc, (Burroughs, Kosinski, Vonnegut); Tony Tanner, ‘‘Bridsong.’’ Copyright © 1972 by Partisan Review (Purdy); Alicia Ostriker, ‘‘Shapes of Poetry.’’ Partisan Review, 44, 4 (1977) (Hollander); Peter Brooks, ‘‘Death of/as Metaphor,’’ Partisan Review, 46, 3 (1979) (Sontag). Reprinted by permission of the authors and Partisan Review. Passegiatta Press. See Three Continents. Penguin. ‘‘Gloria Naylor’s Geography: Community, Class,’’ by Barbara Christian, from Reading Black, Reading Feminist by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Copyright © 1990 by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Used by permission of Dutton Signet, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. ‘‘Cynthia Ozick’’ by Tom Teicholz, from Writers at Work, Eighth Series by George Plimpton, editor, introduced by Joyce Carol Oates. Copyright © 1988 by The Paris Review, Inc. Used by permission of Viking Penguin Books USA Inc. Pennsylvania State University Press. From James E. Miller. Jr., T. S. Eliot’s Personal Waste Land (1977). By permission of The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pa. Performing Arts Publications. From articles by Richard Coe, Michael X. Early, in American Dreams: The Imagination of Sam Shepard, Bonnie Marranca, ed. David Perkins. From article on Auden in The Southern Review. xxxv
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Marjorie Perloff. From Marjorie Perloff, Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters, copyright © 1977 by Marjorie Perloff, copyright © 1979 by the University of Texas Press; originally published by George Braziller, used by permission of the author. Phaidon Press, Ltd. From articles by Larzer Ziff and John Wain in An Edmund Wilson Celebration, John Wain, ed., published by Phaidon Press Ltd., Oxford, England, 1976. (American edition published by New York University Press and titled Edmund Wilson: The Man and the Work.) Robert Phelps. From article on Goodman in The New York Herald Tribune Book Section. Philosophy and Literature. For excerpts from article by Alan Collett on Truman Capote, © 10/89, pp. 289. Reprinted by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. Phylon. From articles by Eugenia W. Collier on Johnson; Barbara Joye on Reed; S. P. Fullinwider on Toomer; and for v. XVIII, Second Quarter, 1957. Copyright, 1957, by Atlanta University. Reproduced by permission of PHYLON. Robert Pinsky. From article on Strand in Poetry. Playbill. Reprinted from Playbill, July 31, 1994. Playbill is a registered trademark of Playbill Incorporated, NYC. Used by permission. Players Magazine (Editor Byron Schaffer, Jr.). From James R. Giles, ‘‘Tenderness in Brutality: The Plays of Ed Bullins; James Hashim, ‘‘Violence in the Drama of Tennessee Williams.’’ PMLA, v. 105, January, 1990. Copyright 1990 by PMLA. Reproduced by permission of Modern Language Association of America. Poetics Today. Wayne Pounds, ‘‘The Postmodern Anus: Parody and Utopia in Two Recent Novels by William Burroughs,’’ Poetics Today, 8:3–4 (1987), pp. 611–29. Copyright Porter Institute for Poetics & Semiotics, Tel Aviv University, 1987. Reprinted with permission. Poet Lore. Excerpts from ‘‘West of the Mississippi,’’ by Edward Butscher which appeared in Poet Lore, Winter 1992. Poetry. From Articles by Hazard Adams on Stafford; John R. Carpenter on Snyder, on Wakoski; Hayden Carruth on Bogan, on Merwin, on Schwartz, on Van Doren; Turner Cassity on Howard; Richard Eberhart on Scott; Daniel Hoffman on Cowley; Richard Howard on Auden; Ruth Lechlitner on Meredith; Philip Levine on Merwin; Laurence Lieberman on Dickey, on Duncan, on Garrigue, on Hughes, on Rexroth, on Rukeyser, on Shapiro, on Viereck, on J. Wright; Jerome McGann on Creeley; Lisel Mueller on Snyder; Phillp Murray on Wilbur; William Pritchard on Lowell; Ernest Sandeen on Blackmur; Robert B. Shaw on Meredith, on Tate; Barry Spacks on Dugan; Kathleen Spivack on Levertov; William Stafford on Brooks, on Olson; Dabney Stuart on Bukowski; Mona Van Duyn on Ashbery, on Rich, on Sexton; Alan Williamson on Lowell, on J. Wright. Copyright © 1944, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 by The Modern Poetry Association. Reprinted by permission of the editor of Poetry. Excerpts from the article on David Ignatow by David Wojahn first appeared in Poetry, copyright © 1995 by The Modern Poetry Association, and are reprinted by permission of the editor of Poetry. For v. CXXV, December, 1974 for ‘‘The Big Machine’’ by John R. Carpenter; v. CXLV, October, 1994 for a review of ‘The Dead and the Living’ by Linda Gregerson. © 1974, 1994 by the Modern Poetry Association. Both reproduced by permission of the Editor of Poetry and the respective authors. Poetry Society of America Newsletter. Excerpts from article on Amy Clampitt by Jean Hanff Korelitz which appeared in Poetry Society of America Newsletter. Copyright © 1995. Excerpts from article on Amy Clampitt by Phoebe Pettingell which appeared in Poetry Society of America Newsletter. Copyright © 1995. Laurence Pollinger, Ltd., for permission for the British Commonwealth for the excerpt from The Third Rose by John Malcolm Brinnin, published by George Weidenfeld & Nicholson, Ltd. Cyrena N. Pondrom. From essay in The Achievement of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Marcia Allentuck, ed. xxxvi
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The Popular Press. See Bowling Green State University Popular Press. Thomas E. Porter, S.J. From Myth and Modern American Drama (Albee). Potpourri. Excerpts on William Stafford by Linda Rodriguez. Copyright © April 1993. Reprinted with the permission of Potpourri. Prentice-Hall, Inc., for excerpts, as follows: from the Introduction to O’Neill: A Collection of Critical Essays by John Gassner, © 1964; from Harvests of Change by Jay Martin © 1967; from the Introduction to Ezra Pound: A Collection of Critical Essays by Walter Sutton © 1963; introduction by Stephen S. Stanton to Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays, Stephen S. Stanton, ed., copyright © 1977; article by Arthur Ganz in Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays, Stephen S. Stanton. ed., copyright © 1977; Introduction by Edward Mendelson to Pynchon: A Collection of Critical Essays, Edward Mendelson, ed., copyright © 1978; introduction by Robert Penn Warren in Katherine Anne Porter: A Collection of Critical Essays, Robert Penn Warren. ed., copyright © 1979; from essay by Donald E. Gibson on Hughes in Modern Black Poets: A Collection of Critical Essays, Donald E. Gibson, ed. Copyright © 1973 by Prentice-Hall, Inc.; Robert Nemiroff’s Foreword in To Be Young, Gifted, and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words. Copyright © 1969 by Robert Nemiroff and Robert Nemiroff as Executor of the Estate of Lorraine Hansberry. Published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; essay by Charles Tomlinson in Marianne Moore: A Collection of Critical Essays, Charles Tomlinson, ed. Copyright © 1969 by Prentice-Hall, Inc., all of above by permission of Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs. NJ07632. Princeton University Library Chronicle. From article by Sherman Hawkins on Kinnell. Princeton University Press. From Lillian Feder, Ancient Myth in Modern Poetry. Copyright © 1971 by Princeton University Press (Aiken, Eliot, Lowell, Merwin, Ransom); essays by Robert M. Adams, Michael Goldman, A. Walton Litz in Eliot in His Time: Essays on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Waste Land, A. Walton Litz, ed. Copyright © 1973 by Princeton University Press; R. W. B. Lewis, The Poetry of Hart Crane: A Critical Study. Copyright © 1967 by Princeton University Press; Stuart Y. McDougal, Ezra Pound and the Troubadour Tradition. Copyright © 1972 by Princetion University Press; Jenijoy LaBelle, The Echoing Wood of Theodore Roethke (pp. 166–68), copyright © 1976 by Princeton University Press; Steven Gould Axelrod, Robert Lowell: Life and Art (pp. 11–12), copyright © 1978 by Princeton University Press; Lawrence Stapleton, Marianne Moore: The Poet’s Advance (pp. 275–76), copyright © 1978 by Princeton University Press; John C. Kemp. Robert Frost and New England: The Poet as Regionalist (pp. 226–30, 235), copyright © 1979 by Princeton University Press; Michael André Bernstein, The Tale of the Tribe: Ezra Pound and Modern Verse (pp. 279–81), copyright © 1980 by Princeton University Press; Frank Doggett and Robert Buttel, eds. Wallace Stevens: A Celebration (pp. xixii, 275–76), copyright © 1980 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press. William H. Pritchard. From article on Lowell in Poetry. Publishers Weekly. From the Jan. 18, 1985 issue of Publisher’s Weekly, published by Cahners Publishing Company, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright © 1985 by Reed Elsevier. From v. 237, November 2, 1990. Copyright 1990 by Reed Publishing USA. Reproduced from Publishers Weekly, published by the Bowker Magazine Group of Cahners Publishing Co., a division of Reed Publishing USA. From the Feb. 1, 1991 issue of Publisher’s Weekly, published by Cahners Publishing Company, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright © 1991 by Reed Elsevier. Reprinted from the June 22, 1995 issue of Publisher’s Weekly, published by Cahners Publishing Company, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Reed Elsevier. Purdue Research Foundation, for excerpts from Modern Fiction Studies, including Joyce Carol Oates on Updike, copyright © 1975; Keith Opdahl on Bellow, copyright © 1979; Hana Wirth-Nesher on Bellow, copyright © 1979; Bruce Michelson on Fitzgerald, copyright © 1981; Thomas LeClair on Gaddis, copyright © 1982, all by Purdue Research Foundation, West Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A. Raines & Raines. From James Dickey, Babel to Byzantium. Copyright © 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 by James Dickey (Ashbery, Kinnell, Meredith, Olson, Stafford). xxxvii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Random House, Inc., for the excerpt from The Dyer’s Hand by W.H. Auden © Copyright 1962 by W.H. Auden. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc., for the excerpts from A Piece of Lettuce by George P. Elliott. Copyright © 1960 by George P. Elliott. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; for the excerpt from Shadow and Act by Ralph Ellison, Copyright © 1945 by Ralph Ellison. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; for excerpt from the Foreword by Clark Kinnaird to A Treasury of Damon Runyon. Copyright © 1958 by Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; for excerpts from Contemporary American Poetry by Ralph J. Mills. © Copyright 1965 by Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission; for excerpts from Postscript to Yesterday by Lloyd Morris. Copyright © 1947 by Lloyd Morris. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; for excerpt from Father’s Footsteps by Damon Runyon, Jr. Copyright © 1953 by Curtis Publishing Co. Copyright © 1954 by Damon Runyon, Jr. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; for excerpt from the Introduction by Mark Schorer to Selected Writings of Truman Capote, © Copyright 1963 by Random House, Inc. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.; for excerpt from The Autobiography by Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. Copyright © 1933 and renewed 1961 by Alice B. Toklas. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; from A. Alvarez, ‘‘Prologue: Sylvia Plath’’ in The Savage God: A Study in Suicide: The unwritten War by Daniel Aaron. Copyright © 1973 by Daniel Aaron. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (Bierce, Faulkner, Frederic, Howells, Twain); The Confusion of Realms by Richard Gilman. Copyright © 1963, 196, 1967, 1968, 1969 by Richard Gilman. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc; Steven Marcus’s Introduction (Copyright © 1974 by Steven Marcus) to The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett. By permission of Random House, Inc.; Carl Van Vechten’s Introduction (Copyright © 1927 and renewed 1955 by Carl Van Vechen) to James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an ExColoured Man. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; John A. Williams’s essay on Himes in Amistad 1, John A. Williams and Charles F. Garris, eds.; Bernard Dick, The Apostate Angel: A Critical Study of Gore Vidal, copyright © 1974 by Random House, reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; John Updike, Picked-Up Pieces, copyright © 1975 by John Updike. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., originally published in The New Yorker (Jong); Charles A. Fecher, Mencken: A Study of His Thought, copyright © 1978 by Charles A. Fecher, reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; article by Alistair Cooke in On Mencken, John Dorsey, ed., copyright © 1980 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; John Updike, Hugging the Shore, copyright © 1983 by John Updike, reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., originally published in The New Yorker (Bellow). Excerpts from Henry Miller by Leon Lewis. Copyright © 1986 by Schocken Books. Reprinted by permission of Schocken Books, published by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Excerpts from The Devil at Large by Erica Jong. Copyright © 1993 by Erica Jong. Reprinted by permission of Turtle Bay, a division of Random House. Renascence. From article by Meta Lale and John Williams on Kosinski; from an essay on R. Wilbur by Gary Ciuba, © 1992/1993 by Renascence. Reprinted by permission of Renascence; from an essay on W. Percy by K. H. Westarp, © 1992 by Renascence. Reprinted by permission of Renascence. Doug Rennie. Excerpts from article on Paul Auster by Doug Rennie which appeared in Plant’s Review of Books. Copyright © 1994. Reprinted with the permission of Doug Rennie. Excerpts from article on John Cheever by Doug Rennie which appeared in Plant’s Review of Books. Copyright © 1994. Reprinted with the permission of Doug Rennie. The Review of Contemporary Fiction. Excerpts from article on Don DeLillo by Joseph Tabbi. Copyright © Fall 1991 and reprinted with the permission of the Review of Contemporary Fiction. Kenneth Rexroth. From article on Goodman in American Poetry Review. Paul R. Reynolds, Inc., for permission for the British Commonwealth for O Rare Don Marquis by Edward Anthony. R. C. Reynolds. From article on McMurtry in Southwest Review. Adrienne Rich. From article on Goodman in American Poetry Review; essay in Randall Jarrell, 1914–1965, Robert Lowell, Peter Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren, eds. Jess Ritter. From essay on Heller in Critical Essays on Catch-22, James Nagel, ed. Janice S. Robinson. From H. D.: The Life and Work of an American Poet. xxxviii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS James E. Rocks. From ‘‘The Mind and Art of Caroline Gordon’’ in The Mississippi Quarterly. Deborah Rogers Ltd. From articles by Anthony Burgess on Calisher, on Eastlake in The Listener. The Ronald Press Company, for the excerpt from The Course of American Democratic Thought by Ralph Henry Gabriel. Copyright © 1940, renewed 1968. The Ronald Press Company, New York. Roger Rosenblatt. From essay on Hughes in Veins of Humor, Harry Levin, ed. Mitchell D. Ross. From The Literary Politicians (Vidal). Ross-Erickson, Inc., Publishers. From Paul Portugues. The Visionary Poetics of Allen Ginsberg. Abraham Rothberg. From article on Snyder in Southwest Review. Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd., for the excerpt from Poetry and Belief in the Work of T.S. Eliot by Kristian Smidt and for the excerpt from T.S. Eliot and the Idea of Tradition by Sean Lucy; for permission for the British Commonwealth for the excerpt from Ezra Pound: Poet as Sculptor by Donald Davie; for the excerpt from D. E. S. Maxwell, Poets of the Thirities (Auden). Excerpt from Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration, by Wayne Koestenbaum (1989) (pp. 112–13 and 138–39). Louis D. Rubin, Jr. From essays by James M. Cox on Twain, William Harmon on Pynchon, C. Hugh Holman on Lardner, Robert D. Jacobs on Faulker, Jay Martin on Bierce, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., on Mencken in The Comic Imagination in American Literature, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., ed. Milton Rugoff. From article on Gaddis in New York Herald Tribune Book Section. Jane Rule. From Lesbian Images. Doubleday, 1975. Copyright © 1975 by Jane Rule. Reproduced by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. on behalf of the author. Rutgers University Press. From George W. Bahlke, The Later Auden: From ‘‘New Year Letter’’ to ‘‘About the House.’’ Copyright © 1970 by Rutgers University press; Miller Williams, The Poetry of John Crowe Ransom. Copyright © 1972 by Miller Williams. Reprinted by permission of the author and Rutgers University Press. Karla F. C. Holloway, Moorings and Metaphors, copyright © 1992 by Karla F. C. Holloway. Reprinted by permission of Rutgers University Press. The Playwright’s Art, Jackson R. Bryer, ed., copyright © 1995 by Rutgers, The State University. Reprinted by permission of Rutgers University Press. Mariann B. Russell. From ‘‘Evolution of Style in the Poetry of Melvin B. Tolson’’ in Black American Poets Between Worlds, 1940-1960. Edited by R. Baxter Miller. University of Tennessee Press, 1986. Copyright © 1986 by The University of Tennessee Press. Reproduced by permission of The University of Tennessee Press. St. Martin’s Press, Incorporated. From George Garrett’s essays on Connell, on Olson in American Poetry, John Russell Brown, Irvin Ehrenpreis, Bernard Harris, eds. By permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. and Macmillan Co., Ltd; from Charles Doyle, William Carlos Williams and the American Poem; from Brian Way, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Art of Social Fiction. Excerpts from Saul Bellow: A Biography of the Imagination by Ruth Miller. Copyright © 1991. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from The Fiction of Joseph Heller: Against the Grain by David Seed. Copyright © 1989. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from The Postmodernist Allegories of Thomas Pynchon by Deborah L. Modson. Copyright © 1991. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from Modern Novelists: John Updike by Judie Newman. Copyright © 1988. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from Lillian Hellman: Her Legend and Her Legacy by Carl E. Rollyson. Copyright © 1988. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from Radical Fictions and the Novels of Norman Mailer by Nigel Leigh. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from The American Novel by A. Robert Lee (ed.). Copyright © 1989. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from Edith Wharton and the Art of Fiction by Penelope Vita-Finzi. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from Saul Bellow by Peter Hyland. Copyright © 1993. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from Saul Bellow: A Biography of the Imagination by xxxix
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Ruth Miller. Copyright © 1991. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Excerpts from David Mamet by Dennis Carroll. Copyright © 1987. Reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Press. Inc. Copyright © 1992 Ron Callan from William Carlos Williams by Ron Callan. Reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Press, Incorporated. Salmagundi. From articles by Harold Bloom on Ashbery; Robert Boyers on Dugan; Henry Pachter on Goodman; Hyatt H. Waggoner on Ammons; Jerome Mazzaro on Ignatow; Richard Vine on Kunitz; excerpts from article on Robert Frost by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © Fall-Winter 1990–91 by Salmagundi and reprinted with the permission of the editors; excerpts from article on Stanley Kunitz by Terence Diggory. Copyright © Winter 1987 by Salmagundi and reprinted with the permission of the editors. Ernest Sandeen. From article on Blackmur in Poetry. San Francisco Review of Books. Excerpts from article on Terry McMillan by Myra Cole. Copyright © Fall 1992, pp. 20–21. Reprinted with the permission of San Francisco Review of Books. Excerpts from article on J. Mclnerney by S. Beacy. Copyright © Fall 1992, pp. 28–29, 30. Reprinted with the permission of San Francisco Review of Books. Excerpts from article on S. Shepard by E. Gillespie. Copyright © Fall 1993, pp. 12–14. Reprinted with the permission of San Francisco Review of Books. From v. VIII, Winter, 198384, "Good Luck in the New World" by Stephen Kessler. Reproduced by permission of the author. Saturday Review. For generous permission to reprint mumerous excerpts from articles, copyright © 1948, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982; also for v. 32, February 12, 1949; v. XLIII, July 23, 1960; v. 52, February 22, 1969. Copyright 1949, 1960, 1969 Saturday Review Magazine. © 1979, General Media Communications, Inc. Reproduced by permission of The Saturday Review. Scarecrow Press, Inc. From Katherine Fishburn, Richard Wright’s Hero: The Faces of a Rebel-Victim; Anne Z. Mickelson, Reaching Out: Sensitivity and Order in Recent American Fiction by Women (Godwin, Jong). Richard Schechner. From article on Shepard in Performance. Richard Schickel. From article on Doctorow in Harper’s Magzine. Duane Schneider. From article on Nin in The Southern Review. Science Fiction Studies. From article by James W. Bittner on Le Guin; also from v. 15, March, 1988. Copyright © 1988 by SFS Publications. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. Science Teacher. ‘‘Isaac Asimov.’’ The Science Teacher. Vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 71–73. Reprinted with permission from NSTA Publications, Jan. 1993, from The Science Teacher, National Science Teachers Association, 1840 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201–3000. Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., for the excerpt from Queen’s Quorum by Ellery Queen © 1951 by Little, Brown and Co. Reprinted by permission of the author and his agents, Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 580 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10036. Charles Scribner’s Sons. Reprinted by permission of Charles Scribner’s Sons from The Beat Generation by Bruce Cook. Copyright © 1971 Bruce Cook (Brautigan, Kesey, Olson, Snyder). The Seabury Press. From With Eye and Ear by Kenneth Rexroth. Copyright © by Herder and Herder, Inc. (Olson, Singer, Snyder); from American Poetry in the Twentieth Century by Kenneth Rexroth. Copyright © 1971 by Herder and Herder, Inc. (Ginsberg, Levertov, Moore, Wheelwright, W.C. Williams). Used by permission of the publisher, The Seabury Press, Inc. Martin Secker & Warburg, Ltd., for permission for the British Commonwealth and Empire excluding Canada for the excerpts from Shadow and Act by Ralph Ellison, Times Three by Phyllis McGinley, The Liberal Imagination by Lionel Trilling, Bright Book of Life by Alfred Kazin (Burroughs, Capote, Jones, xl
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS McCullers, Percy, Roth, Salinger, West); Contemporaries by Alfred Kazin (Singer); Nathanael West: The Art of His Life by Jay Martin. The Sewanee Review, for the excerpts from articles and reviews cited in text, copyright © 1950, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 by The University of the South; also for excerpts from articles by Dewey Ganzel on Hemingway; Caroline Gordon on O’Connor; F. H. Griffin Taylor on Lowell; William Hoffa on H. James; H. T. Kirby-Smith on Bishop; Thomas H. Landess on Meredith and Welty; Andrew Lytle on Gordon; Harry Morris on Bogan; Allen Tate on Ransom; Ruth M. Vande Kieft on O’Connor, copyright © 1949, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 by the University of the South; Lewis P. Simpson, ‘‘Malcolm Cowley and the American Writer,’’ Sewanee Review, 84, 2 (Spring 1976), copyright © 1976 by the University of the South; Louis D. Rubin, Jr., ‘‘Not to Forget Carl Sandburg. . .,’’ Sewanee Review, 85, 1 (Winter 1977), copyright © 1977 by the University of the South; Calvin Bedient, ‘‘Horace and Modernism,’’ Sewanee Review, 85, 2 (Spring 1977), copyright © 1977 by the University of the South (Merwin); Denis Donoghue, ‘‘Trilling, Mind, and Society,’’ Sewanee Review, 86, 2 (Spring 1978), copyright © 1978 by the University of the South; J.A. Bryant, Jr., ‘‘Allen Tate: The Man of Letters in the Modern World,’’ Sewanee Review, 86, 2 (Spring 1978), copyright © 1978 by the University of the South; Tom Johnson, ‘‘Study Sense and Vital Humanism,’’ Sewanee Review, 86,4 (Fall 1978), copyright ©1978 by the University of the South; (MacLeish); Louis D. Rubin, Jr., ‘‘Allen Tate 1899–1979,’’ Sewanee Review, 87,2 (Spring 1979), copyright © 1979 by the University of the South; ‘‘Randall Jarrell and ‘Poetry and the Age’’’ by Calvin Bedient. First published in the Sewanee Review, vol. 93, no. 1, Winter 1985. Copyright © 1985 by Calvin Bedient. Reprinted with the permission of the editor and the author. Robert B. Shaw. From articles on Meredith, on Tate in Poetry. Frank W. Shelton. From article on Gaines in The Southern Review. Shenandoah. From articles by Lisel Mueller on Bly; M. L. Rosethal on Ammons; Herschel Gower on Taylor and Henry Sloss on Howard, both Copyright © 1977 by Washington and Lee University, reprinted from Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, with the permission of the editor. Vernon Shetley. From article on Kinnell in Poetry. Silver Burdett Press. For permission to reprint the excerpt by Nancy Shuker on Angelou. Simon and Schuster, Inc., for the excerpts from American Playwrights: 1918–1938 by Eleanor Flexner, copyright 1938, © 1966 by Eleanor Flexner; for the excerpt from Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain by Justin Kaplan, © 1966 by Justin Kaplan. Lewis P. Simpson. From an article on Welty in The Southern Review. Louis Simpson. From article on Snyder in Harper’s. Dave Smith. From article on Swenson in Poetry. South Atlantic Review (formerly South Atlantic Bulletin). From article by Myra K. McMurry on Angelou in South Atlantic Bulletin. South Carolina Review. From articles by Linda Wagner on Dickey and Levertov. South Dakota Review. From articles by Charles A. Nicholas on Momaday; excerpts from the article on John Berryman by Jeffrey Alan Triggs. First published in the South Dakota Review, Summer 1988. Copyright © 1988 and reprinted by permission. Southern Humanities Review. From articles by Ashley Brown on Gordon; James O. Hoge on Kesey; Alfred S. Reid on Shapiro; Max F. Schulz on Singer; James J. Thompson, Jr. on Caldwell; Frank W. Shelton, ‘‘Nathanael West and the Theater of the Absurd; A Comparative Study,’’ Southern Humanities Review, 10, 3, (Summer 1976), 225, 231–34, copyright 1976 by Auburn University; Sidonie A. Smith, ‘‘The Song of a Caged Bird,’’ Southern Humanities Review, 7, 4 (Fall 1973), 366-67, 374-75, copyright 1973 by Auburn University (Angelou); Robert Bly by Allen Hoey, copyright Southern Humanities Review xli
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE 27, 2 (Spring 1993): 189–90. Also for v. XXV, Winter, 1991. Copyright 1991 by Auburn University. Reproduced by permission. Southern Illinois University Press. From William J. Handy, Modern Fiction (Malamud); Leonard Lutwack, Heroic Fiction: The Epic Tradition and American Novels of the Twentieth Century. Copyright © 1971 by Southern Illinois University Press (Bellow, Hemingway); David Madden, The Poetic Image in Six Genres. Copyright © 1969 by Southern Illinois University Press (Oates, Shepard); Irving Howe, ‘‘Daniel Fuchs’ Williamsburg Trilogy; A Cigarette and a Window’’ in Protetarian Writers of the Thirties, David Madden, ed. Copyright © 1968 Southern Illinois University Press; Matthew J. Bruccoli, ‘‘Focus on Appointment in Samarra: The Importance of Knowing What You Are Talking About’’ (F. O’Hara); Robert I. Edenbaum, ‘‘The Poetics of the Private Eye: The Novels of Dashiell Hammett’’; Herbert Ruhm, ‘‘Raymond Chandler: From Bloomsbury to the Jungle—and Beyond,’’ in Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties, David Madden, ed. Copyright © 1968 by Southern Illinois University Press; Gerald Weales, ‘‘No Face and No Exit: The Fiction of James Purdy and J. P. Donleavy,’’ in Contemporary American Noveltists, Harry T. Moore, ed. Copyright © 1964 by Southern Illinois University Press; The Confessional Poets by Robert Phillips, Copyright © 1973 by Southern Illinois University Press (Plath); In a Minor Chord by Darwin T. Turner, Copyright © 1971 by Southern Illinois University Press (Cullen, Toomer); Darwin T. Turner, Zora Neale Hurston: The Wandering Minstrel; Introduction by Matthew J. Bruccoli to Just Representations: A James Gould Cozzens Reader, Matthew J. Bruccoli, ed. (published in conjunction with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich); article by John William Ward in James Gould Cozzens; New Acquist of True Experience), Matthew J. Bruccoli, ed.; David Cowart, Thomas Pynchon: The Art of Allusion; article by Samuel Coale in John Gardner: Critical Perspectives, Robert A. Morace and Kathryn Van Spankeren, eds. Reprinted by permission of Southern Illinois University Press. Southern Literary Journal. Excerpts from article on Erskine Caldwell by Dan B. Miller. Copyright © Spring 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Southern Literary Journal. Excerpts from article on Z. N. Hurston by Janice Daniel. Copyright © Spring 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Southern Literary Journal. Excerpts from article on C. McCarthy by Andrew Bartlett. Copyright © Spring 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Southern Literary Journal. Excerpts from article on T. Wolfe by Ann Rowe. Copyright © Spring 1993 and reprinted with the permission of Southern Literary Journal. Southern Quarterly. Excerpts from article on Cormac McCarthy by Alan Cheuse, ed. Arnold & Luce. Copyright © Summer 1992 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, the University of Southern Mississippi. Excerpts from article on Cormac McCarthy by John Grammer, ed. Arnold & Luce. Copyright © Summer 1992 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, The University of Southern Mississippi. Excerpts from article on Walker Percy by E. H. Oleksy. Copyright © Spring 1993 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, The University of Southern Mississippi. Excerpts from article on Walker Percy by Gary M. Ciuba. Copyright © Spring 1994 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, The University of Southern Mississippi. Excerpts from article on Reynolds Price by R. C. Fuller. Copyright © Winter 1994 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, The University of Southern Mississippi. Excerpts from article on Anne Tyler by Barbara Harrell Carson. Copyright © Fall 1992 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, The University of Southern Mississippi. Excerpts from article on Eudora Welty by Natalia Yakimenko. Copyright © Fall 1993 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, The University of Southern Mississippi. Excerpts from article on Anne Tyler by Alice Hall Petry. Copyright © Fall 1992 by The Southern Quarterly and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, The University of Southern Mississippi. The Southern Review. Excerpts from article on Tennessee Williams by W. Kenneth Holditch which first appeared in The Southern Review. Copyright © 1986. Excerpts from article on C. McCarthy by Terri Witek which first appeared in The Southern Review. Copyright © 1994. Excerpts from article on Reynolds Price by Ron Carlson which first appeared in The Southern Review. Copyright © 1994; v. 17, 1981 for ‘‘Three Poets in Mid Career’’ by Dana Gioia. Copyright, 1981, by the author. Reproduced by permission of the author. Southwest Review. From articles by Gerald Burns on Snyder, on Wakoski; R. D. Reynolds on McMurtry; Abraham Rothberg on Snyder; Nancy Yanes Hoffman on Sarton; Baine Kerr on Momaday. Barry Spacks. From article on Dugan’s Poems in Poetry. xlii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Patricia Meyer Spacks. From essay ‘‘Free Women’’ in The Hudson Review (Hellman). The Spectator. From articles by Peter Ackroyd and McGuane; Alan Brien on Vonnegut; John Wain on Plath: Auberon Waugh on Brautigan, on Gardner; also v. 271, September 4, 1993. Copyright © 1993 by The Spectator. Reproduced by permission of The Spectator. Spirit. From articles by Sally Andersen on Oates; Lynda B. Salamon on Plath. Kathleen Spivack. From article on Levertov in Poetry. The Springfield Union and Springfield Republican. From article by Richard McLaughlin on Purdy. William Stafford. From articles on Brooks, Olson, and Swenson in Poetry. Ann Stanford. From article on Swenson in The Southern Review. Donald E. Stanford. From article on Porter in The Southern Review. Stanford University Press. From William M. Chace, Lionel Trilling: Criticism and Politics. Marilyn Stasio. From article on Rabe in Cue. Steck-Vaughn Company. From Thomas H. Landess, Larry McMurtry. Stein and Day. From Leslie A. Fiedler, The Return of the Vanishing American. Copyright © 1968 by Leslie Fiedler (Berger, Kesey); The Collected Essays of Leslie Fiedler. Copyright © 1971 by Leslie Fielder (Ginsberg, West). Reprinted by permission of Stein and Day Publishers. George Steiner. From article on Plath in The Reporter. Philip Stevick. From articles on Burroughs, on Kosinski, on Vonnegut in Partisan Review. Dabney Stuart. From article on Bukowski in Poetry. Studies in American Drama. Excerpts from article on Lanford Wilson by Gary Konas. Copyright © 1990 by Studies in American Drama. Reprinted with the permission of Ohio University Press. Studies in American Fiction. Excerpts from article on Charles Johnson by Jonathan Little. Copyright © Autumn 1991 by Studies in American Fiction and Northeastern University and reprinted with permission. Excerpts from article on Toni Morrison by Elizabeth House. Copyright © Spring 1990 by Studies in American Fiction and Northeastern University and reprinted with permission. Excerpts from article on Joyce Carol Oates by Victor Strandberg. Copyright © Spring 1989 by Studies in American Fiction and Northeastern University and reprinted with permission. Excerpts from article on J. Cheever by M. D. Byrne. Copyright © Spring 1992 by Studies in American Fiction and Northeastern University and reprinted with permission. Excerpts from article on B. Malamud by V. Aarons. Copyright © Spring 1992 by Studies in American Fiction and Northeastern University and reprinted with permission. Studies in American Humor. From Elaine Safer’s ‘‘The Allusive Mode, the Absurd and Black Humor in Bernard Malamud’s God’s Grace.’’ Studies in American Humor, the annual journal of the American Humor Studies Association. Studies in Black Literature. From article by Joan Bischoff on Morrison; Jeffrey Steinbrink on Ellison; Lloyd W. Brown on Hughes; also v. 6, Summer, 1975. Copyright 1975 by the editor. Reproduced by permission. Studies in Short Fiction. For v. 23, Fall, 1986. Copyright 1986 by Newberry College. For Smith, Ernest J. ‘‘John Berryman’s Short Fiction: Elegy and Enlightenment.’’ Studies in Short Fiction 30 (1993): 313–16. Copyright © 1993 by Newberry College. Reprinted by permission. Studies in the Literary Imagination. From article by Pamela Shelden on H. James. xliii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Studies in the Novel. From article by John M. Reilly on Toomer. Walter Sutton. From eassy on Pound in Sense and Sensibility, Brom Weber, ed. The Swallow Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, for the excerpts from In Defense of Reason by Yvor Winters and The Last Analysis by R. K. Meiners. Swets and Zlitlinger. From article by G. A. M. Janssens on Bly in English Studies. See also English Studies. Synergy. From article by Martha Bergmann on Bukowski. Syracuse University Press. From Pamela White Hadas, Marianne Moore: Poet of Affection. Tony Tanner. From article on Purdy in Partisan Review. Taplinger Publishing Co., Inc. From articles by N. B. Hayles and by John P. Brennan and Michael C. Downs in Ursula K. LeGuin, Joseph D. Olander and Martin Harry Greenberg, eds. Benjamin Taylor. From article on Sontag in Georgia Review. Clyde R. Taylor. From essay on L. Jones in Modern Black Poets, Donald E. Gilbson, ed. Gordon O. Taylor. From essay on Adams in The Interpretation of Narrative. Walter Taylor. From article on Faulkner in The Southern Review. Temple University Press. Excerpts from Terry Woods’ Lesbian and Gay Writing edited by Mark Lilly. Copyright © 1990 by The Editorial Board Lumiere Press Ltd. Reprinted with the permission of Temple University Press. Virginia R. Terris. From article on Rukeyser in American Poetry Review. Texas A & M University. Excerpts from Katherine Anne Porter by Machann and Clark, eds. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of Texas A & M University Press. Thames and Hudson Ltd. From Richard Howard, Alone with America (Ammons, Goodman, Meredith); Ellen Moers, The Two Dreisers, for the excerpt from Henry James—A Reader’s Guide by S. Gorley Putt. Theater. From articles by Robert Asahina on Rabe, William Kleb on Shepard; Gordon Rogoff, ‘‘Angels in America, Devils on Wings,’’ Theater magazine, Vol. 24: 2, pp. 21, 24. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Theater Magazine. Three Continents. Excerpts from Valerie Harvey’s ‘‘Navajo Sandpainting’’ in Ceremony, in Critical Perspectives on Native American Fiction, ed. Richard F. Fleck. Copyright © 1993. Reprinted with the permission of Three Continents Press (Passeggiata Press). Tikkun. Excerpts from Jyl Lynn Felman’s ‘‘Lost Jewish Male Souls,’’ May/June 1995. Excerpts from Robert Cohn’s ‘‘Mother Knew Best,’’ July/Aug. 1994. Excerpts from James A. Miller’s ‘‘Letting It All Hang Out,’’ Mar./Apr. 1995. Excerpts from Mark Schechner’s ‘‘Singer Ever After,’’ Sept./Oct. 1994. Reprinted from TIKKUN MAGAZINE, A BI-MONTHLY JEWISH CRITIQUE OF POLITICS, CULTURE, AND SOCIETY. Subscriptions are $31.00 per year from TIKKUN, 251 West 100th Street, 5th floor, New York, NY 10025. Time. From article by Robert Wernick on Gardner. Reprinted by permission from Time, The Weekly Newsmagazine. Copyright © 1970 Time, Inc.; for article by R. Z. Sheppard on Elkin. Reprinted by permission from Time. Copyright © 1971 Time, Inc.; R. Z. Sheppard on Auchincloss. Reprinted by permission from Time. Copyright © 1977 Time, Inc.; T. E. Kalem on T. Williams. Reprinted by permission from Time. Copy © 1983 Time, Inc. xliv
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Times Newspapers Limited. From anonymous articles on Berryman, on Bishop, on Buechner, on Creeley, on Frost, on Fuchs, on Merrill, on Mumford, on Nin, on Sandburg, on Saroyan, on Simpson, on Tate, on Wilbur; Caroline Blackwood on Heller; Russell Davies on Roth; Sylvia Millar on Caldwell; Robert Boyers on Gass, Malcolm Bradbury on J. O’Hara; Patricia Craig on Glasgow; George P. Elliott on Sontag; G. S. Fraser on Nemerov; Anthony Hecht on Wilbur; Eric Korn on De Vries; Zachary Leader on Taylor; Michael Mason on Burroughs; Helen McNeil on Olsen; Jay Parini on Eberhart and Rich; Louis Simpson on Dresier; Anne Stevenson on Piercy; Stuart Sutherland on De Vries; Julian Symons on Rexroth, reprinted from The Times Literary Supplement by permission. Alan Trachtenberg. From article on Twain in The Southern Review; essay on H. Miller in American Dreams, American Nightmares, David Madden, ed. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. Excerpts from Mary Titus’s essay, ‘‘Murdering the Lesbian: Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour,’’ which appeared in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, Volume 10, Number 2 (Fall 1991). © 1991, The University of Tulsa. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. Arlin Turner. From article on Twain in The Southern Review. Twayne Publishers, Inc. From Morgan Gibson, Kenneth Rexroth, Thomas Gray, Elinor Wylie, Fred Moramarco, Edward Dahlberg, Vincent Quinn, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.). Reprinted with the permission of Twayne Publishers, A Division of G.K. Hall & Co., Boston. Twentieth Century Literature. From articles by Daniel J. Cahill on Kosinski; Francis Gillen on Barthelme; Richard Lehan on Fitzgerald; excerpts from Karen Jackson Ford’s ‘‘Do Right to Write Right: Langston Hughes’s Aesthetics of Simplicity.’’ Copyright © 1992 and reprinted with the permission of Twentieth Century Literature. Excerpts from Kim McKay’s ‘‘Double Discourse in John Irving’s The World According to Garp.’’ Copyright© 1992 and reprinted with the permission of Twentieth Century Literature. Excerpts from ‘‘Hearing Is Believing: Southern Racial Communities and Strategies of StoryListing in Gloria Naylor and Lee Smith.’’ by J. Donlon. Copyright© 1995 and reprinted with the permission of Twentieth Century Literature. Excerpts from the essay on Denise Levertov by Ronald R. Janssen. Copyright© Fall 1992 and reprinted with the permission of Twentieth Century Literature. Excerpts from the essay on Robert Lowell by Allan Johnston, Copyright© Spring 1990 and reprinted with the permission of Twentieth Century Literature. Excerpts from the essay on James Merrill by C. A. Buckley, Copyright© Winter 1992 and reprinted with the permission of Twentieth Century Literature. Excerpts from the essay on John Dos Passos by Joseph Fichtelberg. Copyright© Winter 1988 and reprinted with the permission of Twentieth Century Literature. University of Alabama Press. From Richard Sugg, Hart Crane’s The Bridge, published 1976 by the University of Alabama Press, copyright © 1976 by the University of Alabama Press. University of California Press. From L. S. Dembo, Conceptions of Reality in Modern American Poetry. Copyright © 1966 by the Regents of the University of California (Olson); Frank Lentricchia, The Gaiety of Language: An Essay on The Radical Poetics of W. B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1968 by The Regents of the University of California (Stevens); Gerald Nelson, Changes of Heart: A Study of the Poetry of W. H. Auden. Copyright © 1969 by The Regents of the University of California; Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era. Copyright © 1971 by Hugh Kenner (Pound); Hugh Witemeyer, The Poetry of Ezra Pound: Forms and Renewal, 1908–1920. Copyright © 1969 by The Regents of the University of California; George T. Wright, The Poet in the Poem: The Personae of Eliot, Yeats and Pound. Copyright © 1960 by The Regents of the University of California (Eliot); Stephen Yense. Circle to Circle: The Poetry of Robert Lowell, copyright © 1975 by the University of California Press; Michael Alexander, The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound, copyright © 1979 by the University of California Press; Barry Ahearn, Zukofsky’s ‘‘A’’: An Introduction, copyright © 1983 by the University of California Press. From Safe at Last in the Middle Years: The Invention of the Midlife Progress Novel, by Margaret Gullette, © 1988 by the Regents of the University of California Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of California Press. From The Voice in the Margin: Native American Literature and the Canon, by Arnold Krupat. © 1989 by the Regents of the University of California Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of California Press. From Charles Olson. Selected Poems, edited/translated by Robert Creeley, © 1993 by the Regents of the University of California Press, © 1987 Estate of Charles Olson and the University of Connecticut. Reprinted by permission of the University of California Press. From The Voice in the xlv
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Margin: Native American Literature and the Canon, by Arnold Krupat, © 1989 by the Regents of the University of California Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of California Press. University of Central Arkansas Press. Excerpts on Lynette McGrath’s ‘‘Anne Sexton’s Poetic Connections’’ from Frances Bixler’s Original Essays on the Poetry of Anne Sexton. Copyright © 1988 and reprinted with the permission of The University of Central Arkansas. University of Chicago Press, for the excerpt reprinted from American Judaism by Nathan Glazer by permission of The University of Chicago Press, copyright © 1957 by the University of Chicago; for the excerpt by Malcolm Goldstein from American Drama and Its Critics, edited by Alan S. Downer, by permission of The University of Chicago Press, copyright © 1965 by the University of Chicago; for the excerpt from the Introduction by Josephine Herbst to Gullible’s Travels by Ring Lardner by permission of The University of Chicago Press, Introduction copyright © 1965 by the University of Chicago; for the excerpt from Harold Bloom, The Ringers in the Tower: Studies in Romantic Tradition. Copyright © 1971 by Harold Bloom (Ammons); Chester E. Eisinger, Fiction of the Forties. Copyright © 1963 by Chester E. Eisinger (Gordon); Ruth R. Wisse, The Schlemiel as Modern Hero. Copyright © 1971 by The University of Chicago (Bellow, Friedman, Malamud, Roth); George Bornstein, Transformations of Romanticism in Yeats, Eliot, and Stevens, copyright © 1976 by the University of Chicago Press (Eliot, Stevens); Frank D. McConnell, Four Postwar American Novelists, copyright © 1977 by the University of Chicago Press (Barth, Pynchon); Mérie Borroff, Language and the Poet: Verbal Artistry in Frost, Stevens, and Moore, copyright © 1979 by the University of Chicago Press (Frost, Stevens); article by Elizabeth Fifer on Stein in Signs, Copyright © 1979 by the University of Chicago Press; from Afro-American Literary Study in the 1990s by Deborah E. McDowell. Copyright © 1980 by Deborah E. McDowell and reprinted with the permission of The University of Chicago Press. Excerpts from Blues, Ideology and Afro-American Literature by H. A. Baker, Jr. Copyright © 1984 by H. A. Baker, Jr. and reprinted with the permission of The University of Chicago Press. Excerpts from Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance by H. A. Baker, Jr. Copyright © 1987 by H. A. Baker, Jr. and reprinted with the permission of The University of Chicago Press. University of Dallas. From Thomas H. Landess’s Introduction to The Short Fiction of Caroline Gordon, Thomas H. Landess, ed. University of Georgia Press. From essays by Charles T. Davis, William J. Free in Edwin Arlington Robinson: Centenary Essays, Ellsworth Barnard, ed.; William H. Note, Rock and Hawk: Robinson Jeffers and the Romantic Agony, copyright © 1978; Elizabeth Ammons, Edith Wharton’s Argument with America, copyright © 1980; Ladell Payne, Black Novelists and the Southern Literary Tradition, copyright © 1981 (Ellison); article by Jane Flanders in The Achievement of William Styron, rev. ed., Robert K. Morris and Irving Malin, eds., copyright © 1981; Dick Davis, Wisdom and Wilderness: The Achievement of Yvor Winters, copyright © 1983, all the above by the University of Georgia Press, reprinted by permission of the University of Georgia Press. From Toward Robert Frost: The Reader and the Poet by Judith Oster, © 1992 by the University of Georgia Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Georgia Press. From Sacred Groves and Ravaged Gardens: The Fiction of Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O’Connor by Louise H. Westling, © 1985 by the University of Georgia Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Georgia Press. From Final Acts: The Creation of Three Late O’Neill Plays by Judith E. Barlow, © 1985 by the University of Georgia Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Georgia Press. From The Inner Strength of Opposites: O’Neill’s Novelistic Drama and the Melodramatic Imagination by Kurt Eisen, © 1994 by the University of Georgia Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Georgia Press. From Randall Jarrell and the Lost World of Childhood, by Richard Flynn, © 1990 by the University of Georgia Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Georgia Press. From Malcolm Cowley: The Formative Years by Hans Bak, © 1993 by the University of Georgia Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Georgia Press. University of Illinois Press. From Sherman Paul, Hart’s Bridge (Crane); John Vernon, The Garden and the Map (Barth, Burroughs, Pynchon, Roethke); Ruby Cohn in Comic Relief: Humor in Contemporary American Literature, Sarah Balacher Cohen, ed., copyright © 1978 (Albee, Shepard); James M. Mellard, The Exploded Form: The Modernist Novel in America, copyright © 1980 (Heller); Jerome Klinkowitz, Literary Disruptions, 2nd ed., copyright © 1980 (Kosinski); Thomas H. Schaub, Pynchon the Voice of Ambiguity, copyright © 1980; Introduction by Dave Smith to The Pure Clear Word: Essays on the Poetry of James Wright, Dave Smith, ed., copyright © 1982; article on Swenson by Dave Smith in his Local Assays (originally published in Poetry), copyright © 1985, all of the above by the Board of Trustees of the xlvi
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS University of Illinois; article by René Wellek on E. Wilson in Comparative Literature Studies. Excerpts from Willa Cather and France by Robert J. Nelson. Copyright © 1988. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. Excerpts from Splendid Failure by Edward Brunner. Copyright © 1985. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. Excerpts from Reading Stanley Elkin by Peter J. Bailey. Copyright © 1985. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. Excerpts from Marianne Moore: The Poetry of Engagement by Grace Schulman. Copyright © 1986. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. Excerpts from Writing Pynchon by Alec McHoul and David Wills. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. Excerpts from Oedipus Anne: The Poetry of Anne Sexton by D. H. George. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. Excerpts from My Life as a Loaded Gun by Paula Bennett. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. Excerpts from Ride out the Wilderness by Melvin Dixon. Copyright © 1987. Reprinted with the permission of University of Illinois Press. University of Massachusetts Press. From Jay Parini. Theodore Roethke: An American Romantic, copyright © 1979 by the University of Massachusetts Press. University of Miami Press. From Richard H. Rupp. Celebration in Postwar American Fiction (Agee, Baldwin, Cheever, Ellison, O’Connor, Salinger). The University of Michigan Press, for the excerpt from The Poetic Themes of Robert Lowell by Jerome Mazzaro, copyright © 1965 by the University of Michigan; for the excerpt from The Major Themes of Robert Frost by Radcliffe Squires, copyright © 1963 by the University of Michigan; for the excerpt from The Loyalties of Robinson Jeffers by Radcliffe Squires, copyright © 1963 by the University of Michigan; for the excerpts from The New England Conscience by Austin Warren, copyright © 1966 by the University of Michigan. University of Minnesota Press. From Gay Wilson Allen, William James. Copyright © 1970 the University of Minnesota; Louis Auchincloss, Henry Adams. Copyright © 1971 by the University of Minnesota; Warner Berthoff, Edmund Wilson. Copyright © 1968 by the University of Minnesota; Glauco Cambon, Recent American Poetry (Kinnell). Copyright © 1962 by the University of Minnesota: Merke E. Brown, Kenneth Burke. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Minnesota; Stanton Garner, Harold Frederic. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Minnesota; Lawrence Graver, Carson McCullers. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Minnesota; Leon Howard, Wright Morris Copyright © 1968 by the University of Minnesota; James Korges, Erskine Caldwell. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Minnesota; Erling Larsen, James Agee. Copyright © 1971 by the University of Minnesota; Frederick P. W. McDowell, Caroline Gordon. Copyright © 1966 by the University of Minnesota; Julian Moynahan, Vladimir Nabokov. Copyright © 1971 by the University of Minnesota; William J. Martz, John Berryman. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Minnesota; Jay Martin, Robert Lowell. Copyright © 1970 by the University of Minnesota; Earl Rovit, Saul Bellow. Copyright © 1967 by the University of Minnesota; Ben Siegel, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Minnesota; Irvin Stock, Mary McCarthy. copyright © 1968; Irvin Stock, Mary McCarthy. Copyright © 1968 by the University of Minnesota; Charles Child Walcutt, John O’Hara. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Minnesota; Donald Pizer, The Novels of Theodore Dreiser. Warner Berthoff, Hart Crane: A Re-Introduction (University of Minnesota Press. 1989), pp. x–xi. Reprinted with the permission of The University of Minnesota Press. Nancy A. Walker. A Very Serious Thing: Women’s Humor and American Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 1988), pp. 111–13. Reprinted with the permission of The University of Minnesota Press. University of Missouri Press. From C. W. E. Bigsby, Confrontation and Commitment (Hansberry); Bettina Schwarzschild, The Not-Right House: Essays on James Purdy. By permission of the University of Missori Press. Copyright © 1968 by Bettina Schwarzschild; Sanford Pinsker, The Comedy That ‘‘Hoits’’: An Essay on the Fiction of Philip Roth, Copyright © 1975; Stephen F. Milliken, Chester Himes: A Critical Appraisal, copyright © 1976; Robert Boyers, Lionel Trilling: Negative Capability and the Wisdom of Avoidance, copyright © 1977; Charles Molesworth, The Fierce Embrace: A Study of Contemporary American Poetry, copyright © 1979 (Ginsberg, Kinnell); Robert Boyers, R. P. Blackmur; Poet-Critic, copyright © 1980; Robert J. Begiebing, Acts of Regeneration: Allegory and Archetype in the Works of Norman Mailer, copyright © 1980; Mary Lynn Broe, Protean Poetic: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath, copyright © 1980; Neal Browers, Theodore Roethke: The Journey from I to Otherwise, copyright © 1982; David Packman, Vladimir Nabokov: The Structure of Literary Desire, copyright © 1982, all of the above xlvii
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE by the Curators of the University of the Missouri, reprinted by permission of the University of Missouri Press. The University of Nebraska Press. From D. J. Dooley, The Art of Sinclair Lewis. Copyright © 1967 by the University of Nebraska Press. Reprinted by permission of University of Nebraska Press; from articles by Robert Huff on Stafford; Debra Hulbert on Wakoski; Melvin Lyon on Dahlberg; Thomas Parkinson on Synder; Harold Witt on Aiken; Harriet Zinnes on Bly; anon. on Merwin in Prairie Schooner. Copyright © 1961, 1962, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 by University of Nebraska Press. Reprinted by permission from Prairie Schooner; from David Stouck, Willa Cather’s Imagination, copyright © 1975; article by John W. Aldridge in Conversations with Wright Morris: Critical Views and Responses, Robert E. Knoll, ed., copyright © 1977; G. B. Crump. The Novels of Wright Morris: A Critical Interpretation, copyright © 1978; Robert C. Rosen, John Dos Passos: Politics and the Writer, copyright © 1981, all of the above by the University of Nebraska Press, reprinted, by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Excerpts from a review on Don DeLillo by Lee Lemon from the Spring 1992 Prairie Schooner. Copyright © 1992 by the University of Nebraska Press and reprinted with the permission of University of Nebraska Press. Excerpts from Hemingway’s Quarrel with Androgyny by Mark Spilka. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of University of Nebraska Press. Excerpts from Remember the Laughter: A Life of James Thurber by Neil A. Grauer. Copyright © 1994. Reprinted with the permission of University of Nebraska Press. University of Nevada Press. From Many Californias: Literature from the Golden State, edited by Gerald W. Haslam, copyright © 1991 by the University of Nevada Press. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Nevada Press. University of New Mexico Press. From Cynthia D. Edelberg, Robert Creeley’s Poetry: A Critical Introduction; Charles R. Larson, American Indian Fiction (Momaday). University of North Carolina Press. From John M. Bradbury, Renaissance in the South (Gordon); Hugh M. Gloster, Negro Voices in American Fiction (Johnson); John Rosenblatt, Sylvia Plath: The Poetry of Initiation; Robert N. Wilson. The Writer as Social Seer (Baldwin, Hemingway, A. Miller); Forrest G. Read, 76: One Word and the Cantos of Ezra Pound, copyright © 1981 by the University of North Carolina Press, used by permission of the publisher. University of Oklahoma Press. From article by Howard Moss on Bishop in World Literature Today, 51, 1 (Winter 1977), copyright © 1977; Lothar Kahn on Singer in World Literature Today, 53, 2 (Spring 1979), copyright 1979, both reprinted with the permission of University of Oklahoma Press. Excerpts from Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel by Louis Owens. Copyright © 1992. Reprinted with the permission of University of Oklahoma Press. Excerpts from N. Scott Momaday: The Cultural and Literary Background by Matthias Schubnell. Copyright © 1985. Reprinted with the permission of University of Oklahoma Press. Excerpts from Modernism, Medicine, and William Carlos Williams by T. Hugh Crawford. Copyright © 1993. Reprinted with the permission of University of Oklahoma Press. University of Pennsylvania Press. Excerpts from John Barth and the Anxiety of Continuance by Patricia Tobin. Copyright © 1992 and reprinted with the permission of University of Pennsylvania Press. Excerpts from Mechanism and Mysticism by Louis J. Zanine. Copyright © 1993 and reprinted with the permission of University of Pennsylvania Press. Excerpts from Saul Bellow by Ellen Pifer. Copyright © 1990 and reprinted with the permission of University of Pennsylvania Press. Excerpts from Beyond the Red Notebook by Dennis Barone. Copyright © 1995 and reprinted with the permission of University of Pennsylvania Press. University of Pittsburgh Press. From Mind of Winter: Wallace Stevens, Meditation, and Literature, by William W. Bevis. © 1988 by University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Donald Barthelme by Stanley Trachtenberg. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Robert Bly by William V. Davis. Copyright © 1988. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Randall Jarrell by J. A. Bryant, Jr. Copyright © 1986. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding William Kennedy by J. K. Van Dover. Copyright © 1991. Reprinted with the xlviii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Thomas Pynchon by Robert D. Newman. Copyright © 1986. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Chicano Literature by Carl R. Shirley and Paula Shirley. Copyright © 1988. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding James Dickey by Ronald Baugham. Copyright © 1985. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from ‘‘Alnilant: James Dickey’s Novel Explores Father and Son Relationships.’’ in Ronald Buughman, ed., The Voiced Connections by William W. Starr. Copyright © 1989. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Contemporary American Drama by William Herman. Copyright © 1987. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Kurt Vonnegut by W. R. Allen. Copyright © 1990. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. Excerpts from Understanding Gary Snyder by Patrick D. Murphy. Copyright © 1992. Reprinted with the permission of University of South Carolina Press. The University of Tennessee Press, for the excerpt from the article, ‘‘Myth-making in America: ‘The Great Stone Face’ and Raintree County,’’ by Boyd Litzinger in Tennessee Studies In Literature, Vol. VIII, edited by R. B. Davis and K. L. Knickerbocker, copyright © 1963 by the University of Tennessee Press. Excerpts from Creating Faulkner’s Reputation by Lawrence H. Schwartz. Copyright © 1988 and reprinted with the permission of University of Tennessee Press. Excerpts from Frost and the Book of Nature by George F. Bagby. Copyright © 1993 and reprinted with the permission of University of Tennessee Press. University of Texas Press. From article by Thomas Le Clair on Barth in Texas Studies in Literature and Language. copyright © 1973 by University of Texas Press; from Paul Christensen, Charles Olson: Call Him Ishmael. From Faulkner’s Marginal Couple: Invisible, Outlaw, and Unspeakable Communities by John N. Duvall, Copyright © 1990. By permission of the University of Texas Press. From Marianne Moore: Subversive Modernist by Taffy Martin. Copyright © 1986. By permission of the University of Texas Press. From Satire in Narrative: Petronius, Swift, Gibbon, Melville, and Pynchon by Frank Palmeri, Copyright © 1990. By permission of the University of Texas Press. From Grace Paley: Illuminating the Dark Lives by Jacqueline Taylor. Copyright © 1990. By permission of the University of Texas Press. ‘‘Humor, Subjectivity, Resistance: The Case of Laughter in The Color Purple’’ by Carole Anne Taylor in Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol 36:4, pp 462–63; by permission of the author and the University of Texas Press. ‘‘Hysteron Proteron in Gravity’s Rainbow’’ by Steven Weisenburger in Texas Studies in Literature and Language vol 34:1; p 102; by permission of the author and the University of Texas Press. ‘‘‘Mighty Strange Threads in Her Loom’: Laughter and Subversive Heteroglossi in Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain’’ by Christine Levecq in Texas Studies in Literature and Language vol 36:4: pp 438–40; by permission of the author and the University of Texas Press. University of Toronto Press. From Balachandra Rajan, The Overwhelming Question: A Study of the Poetry of T.S. Eliot. University of Washington Press. From A. Kingsley Weatherhead, Edge of the Image. Copyright © 1967 by the University of Washington Press (Olson); Rosemary Sullivan, Theodore Roethke: The Garden Master. The University of Wisconsin Press. From Arthur B. Coffin, Robinson Jeffers; from articles of Bernard Benstock on Gaddis; John P. Farrell on Wilbur; Richard Lehan on Sheed in Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature; by Alan J. Friedmand and Manfred Puetz on Pynchon; Blanche Gelfant on Kerouac, Robert von Hallberg on Olson; Howard M. Harper, Jr., on Kosinski; Norman Holland on Doolittle; Peter William Koenig on Gaddis; Samuel French Morse on Zukofsky, Marjorie G. Perloff on Kinnell, on O’Hara; Donald Sheehan on Howard in Contemporary Literature; The Broken World of Tennessee Williams by Esther M. Jackson; Ellen Glasgow and the Ironic Art of Fiction by Frederick P. W. McDowell, reprinted with permission of the copyright owners, the Regents of the University of Wisconsin; for the excerpts from articles in Contemporary Literature (formerly Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature) cited in text, reprinted with permission of the copyright owners, the Regents of the University of Wisconsin and with permission of the University of Wisconsin Press; articles by Cynthia A. Davis on Morrison; Robert E. Fleming on J. Williams; Richard Jackson on Strand; Thomas Le Clair on Elkin and on Gardner in Contemporary Literature; article by Charles Russell on Burroughs in Substance. Copyright by the University of Wisconsin Press. Baker, Houston A., Jr. Afro-American Poetics: Revisions of Harlem and the Black Aesthetic. © 1988. (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.) Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisonsin Press. Wilson, Rob. American Sublime: The Genealogy of a Poetic Genre. © 1991. (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.) Reprinted by permission of The xlix
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE University of Wisconsin Press. Duffey, Bernard. A Poetry of Presence. Copyright © 1986. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press. University Press of Florida. Excerpts from Transcending Exile by A. Milbauer. Copyright © 1985 and reprinted with the permission of University Press of Florida. University Press of Kansas. From Robert Hipkiss, Jack Kerouac: Prophet of the New Romanticism, copyright © 1976 by Regents Press of Kansas; Jonathan Holden, The Mark to Turn: A Reading of William Stafford’s Poetry, copyright © 1976 by Regents Press of Kansas; from Gary Lane, I Am: A Study of E.E. Cummings’ Poems, copyright © 1976 by Regents Press of Kansas. University Press of Kentucky. From Victor H. Strandberg, The Poetic Vision of Robert Penn Warren, copyright © 1977; article by Neil Nakadate in Robert Penn Warren: Critical Perspectives, Neil Nakadate, ed., copyright © 1981; Floyd C. Watkins, Then and Now: The Personal Past in the Poetry of Robert Penn Warren, copyright © 1982; George H. Douglas, Edmund Wilson’s America, copyright © 1983. Reprinted excerpts from ‘‘John W. Mahon: Mary Gordon: The Struggle with Love’’ in Mickey Perlman’s American Women Writing Fiction: Memory, Identity, Family, Space. Copyright © 1989 by The University Press of Kentucky, by permission of the publishers. Reprinted excerpts from The American Vision of Robert Penn Warren by William B. Clark. Copyright © 1991 by The University Press of Kentucky, by permission of the publishers. Reprinted excerpts from Gwendolyn Brooks by D. H. Melhem. Copyright © 1987 by The University Press of Kentucky, by permission of the publishers. Reprinted excerpts from Heroism in the New Black Poetry by D. H. Melhem. Copyright © 1990 by The University Press of Kentucky, by permission of the publishers. Reprinted excerpts from A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by George E. Kent. Copyright © 1990 by The University Press of Kentucky, by permission of the publishers. Reprinted excerpts from The Irish Voice in America by Charles Fanning. Copyright © 1990 by The University Press of Kentucky, by permission of the publishers. University Press of Mississippi. From articles by Rexford Stamper in Tennessee Williams: A Tribute, Jac Tharpe. ed.; Cecil L. Eubanks in Walker Percy: Art and Ethics, Jac Tharpe, ed.; John Pilkington, The Heart of Yoknapatawpha (Faulkner); Albert J. Devlin, Eudora Welty’s Chronicle: A Story of Mississippi Life, articles by Robert L. Phillips, Jr., and Reynolds Price in Eudora Welty: A Form of Thanks, Louis Dolarhide and Ann J. Abadie, eds. University Press of New England. From Stanley T. Gutman, Mankind in Barbary: The Individual and Society in the Novels of Norman Mailer, by permission of the University Press of New England, copyright © 1975 by the Trustees of the University of Vermont. The University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, for the excerpt from Ellen Glasgow’s American Dream by Joan Foster Santas; introduction by Louis D. Rubin, Jr., in Ellen Glasgow: Centennial Essays, M. Thomas Inge, ed. Excerpts from Dos Passos’ ‘‘U.S.A.’’ by Donald Pizar. Copyright © 1988. Reprinted with the permission of the University Press of Virginia. Excerpts from Faulkner and the Thoroughly Modern Novel by Virginia V. James Hlavsa. Copyright © 1991. Reprinted with the permission of the University Press of Virginia. Excerpts from Protest and Possibility in the Writing of Tillie Olsen by Mara Faulkner. Copyright © 1993. Excerpts from An Alchemy of Genres by Diane P. Freedman. Copyright © 1992. Reprinted with the permission of the University Press of Virginia. Vanderbilt University Press. From Barnett Guttenberg, Web of Being: The Novels of Robert Penn Warren; Floyd C. Watkins, The Flesh and the World: Eliot, Hemingway, Faulkner. Copyright © 1971 by Vanderbilt University Press (Eliot, Faulkner, Hemingway). Mona Van Duyn. From articles on Ashbery, on Rich, on Sexton in Poetry. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. From The Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller by R.W. Marx. Copyright © 1960 by Litton Educational Publishing, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. Viking Penguin, Inc., for the excerpts from The American 1890s: Life and Times of a Lost Generation by Larzer Ziff. Copyright © 1966; from Two Dreisers by Ellen Moers; Norman Mailer by Richard Poirier. Copyright © 1972 by Richard Poirier; David Littlejohn, Black on White: A Critical Survey of Writing by American Negroes, copyright © 1966 by David Littlejohn (Hayden); Donald Davie, Ezra Pound, l
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS copyright © 1975 by Donald Davie: Scott Donaldson. By Force of Will: The Life and Art of Ernest Hemingway, copyright © 1979 by Scott Donaldson. The Village Voice. For generous permission to reprint from numerous articles from The Village Voice and The Voice Literary Supplement: Michael Feingold on Rabe; Jack Friedman on Bullins; John S. Friedman on Selby; Vivian Gornick on Didion; Julius Novick on Rabe, on Albee; Corinne Robbins on Horovitz; Michael Smith on Drexler; Gilbert Sorrentino on Zukofsky; Ross Wetzsteon on Mamet and Vonnegut; Michael Feingold on Guare; Terry Curtis Fox on Guare; Eliot Fremont-Smith on Irving and Roth; Eileen Blumenthal on Mamet; Michael Feingold on Mamet; Seymour Krim on Vonnegut; Vivian Gornick on Didion; Julius Novick on L. Wilson; Debra Rae Cohen on Purdy; Caryn James on Elkin: Khachig Tölölyan on Vonnegut; Laurie Stone on Rossner; Margo Jefferson on Ozick; Geoffrey Stokes on Theroux; Tom Carson on Algren. Reprinted with permission of the authors and The Village Voice, copyright © 1968, 1969; 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983 by The Village Voice, Inc. Virago Press. Excerpts from Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up by Hermione Lee. Copyright © 1989 by and reprinted with the permission of Little Brown & Co. (UK). The Virginia Quarterly Review. From articles by Houston A. Baker, Jr., on Johnson; Fred Bornhauser on Kinnell, on Meredith; James M. Cox on Lardner; J. C. Levenson on Robinson; anon. on Auchincloss, on Dickey, on McCarthy, on Taylor; Louis D. Rubin, Jr., on McCullers; Anne Hobson Freeman on Price, Jane Barnes Casey on Taylor. Warwick Wadlington. From ‘‘Pathos and Dreiser’’ in The Southern Review. Austin Warren. From article on Auden in The Southern Review. Robert Penn Warren. From articles on Dreiser, on Ransom, on Twain in The Southern Review. The Washington Post. For generous permission to excerpt numerous reviews and articles in Book World. Robert Watson, for the excerpt from his review of James Dickey’s The Suspect in Poetry in Poetry, Feb., 1966. Donald Watt. From ‘‘Burning Bright: ‘Farenheit 451’ as Symbolic Dystopia’’ in Ray Bradbury. Edited by Martin Harry Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander. Taplinger Publishing Company, 1980. Copyright © 1980 by Joseph D. Olander and Martin Harry Greenberg. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author. Wayne State University Press, for the excerpts reprinted from Psychoanalysis and American Literary Criticism by Louis Fraiberg by permission of the Wayne State University Press. Copyright © 1960 by the Wayne State University Press; for the excerpt from ‘‘A Skeptical Music: Stevens and Santayana’’ in Criticism, Vol. III, no. 3, Summer 1965 by David P. Young by permission of the Wayne State University Press; for the excerpt from Merle E. Brown, Wallace Stevens: The Poem as Act. Copyright © 1970 by Wayne State University Press. Thomas E. Porter, Myth and Modern American Drama. Copyright © 1969 by Wayne State University Press (Albee); J.S. Wolkenfeld, ‘‘Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Faith of His Devils and Magicians,’’ in Criticism. Copyright © 1963 by Wayne State University. Gerald Weales. From articles on Vonnegut, on Horovitz in The Reporter. Brom Weber, for the excerpt from The Letters of Hart Crane, 1916–1932, ed. Brom Weber, copyright © 1952 Brom Weber (University of California Press, 1965). Brigitte Weeks. From article on Godwin in Ms. Magazine. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. From A. Alvarez, The Savage God (Plath); Richard Gilman, The Confusion of Realms (Barthelme); Jacques Barzun in The World of Raymond Chandler, Miriam Gross, ed. Philip M. Weinstein. From essay on H. James in The Interpretation of Narrative. Morton W. Bloomfield, ed. li
    • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Wesleyan University Press, for the excerpt from The Plays of Thornton Wilder by Donald Haberman, published by the Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 1967 by Wesleyan University; for the excerpt from H.L. Mencken: Literary Critic by William H. Nolte, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 1964, 1966 by William H. Nolte; for the excerpt from essay by Ihab Hassan on Vonnegut in Liberation, Ihab Hassan, ed. Copyright © 1971 by Wesleyan University; Ruth Miller, The Poetry of Emily Dickinson. Copyright © 1968 by Ruth Miller Kriesberg. Western American Literature. For articles by Jay Gurian on Berger; L. Edwin Folsom on Snyder; for v. XVI, February, 1982; v. 21, Winter, 1987; v. XXII, February, 1988; v. XXVIII, Summer, 1993. Copyright 1982, 1987, 1988, 1993 by the Western American Literature Association. Reproduced by permission. Excerpts of article on C. McCarthy by T. Pilkington which appeared in the Western American Literature Journal. Copyright © Winter 1993 and reprinted with the permission of publisher. Excerpts of article on T. McGuane by Nathaniel Lewis which appeared in the Western American Literature Journal. Copyright © November 1993 and reprinted with the permission of publisher. Excerpts of article on N. Scott Momaday by E. T. Smith which appeared in the Western American Literature Journal. Copyright © November 1993 and reprinted with the permission of publisher. Excerpts of article on Larry McMurtry by Ernestine P. Sewell which appeared in the Western American Literature Journal. Copyright © Winter 1993 and reprinted with the permission of publisher. The Western Humanities Review. From ‘‘The Rank Flavor of Bolld’’ by Charles Molesworth (Kinnell). Western Review. From article by Gerry Haslam on Eastlake. Ross Wetzsteon. From ‘‘The Genius of Sam Shepard’’ in New York Magazine. Whitson Publishing Co., Inc. From Henry C. Lacey, To Raise, Destroy, and Create: The Poetry, Drama, and Fiction of Imamu Amiri Baraka (Le Roi Jones). Mary Ellen Williams Walsh. From A Vast Landscape: Time in the Novels of Thornton Wilder. Miller Williams. From The Poetry of John Crowe Ransom. Alan Williamson. From articles on Lowell, on J. Wright in Poetry. Brenda Wineapple. From article on Coover in Iowa Review. Jack Wolkenfeld. From article on Singer in Criticism. Women’s Review of Books. Excerpts from the article on Audre Lorde by Barbara T. Christian first printed in The Women’s Review of Books. Copyright © 1993 and reprinted with the permission of the author. Excerpts from article on Bobbie Ann Mason by Michele Clark which appeared in Woman’s Review of Books. Copyright © March 1994 and reprinted with the permission of the author. Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. From article by Jaqueline Ridgeway on Bogan. Linda W. Wagner, ‘‘Plath’s The Bell Jar as Female Bildungsroman,’’ Women’s Studies, Vol. 12 (1986), pp. 55–68. Permission granted by The Gordon & Breach Publishing Group. Elizabeth Lennox Keyser. ‘‘A Bloodsmoor Romance: Joyce Carol Oates’ Little Women.’’ Women’s Studies, Vol. 14 (1988), pp. 211–23. Permission granted by The Gordon & Breach Publishing Group. World Literature Today. Excerpts from article on John Berryman by Manly Johnson. Copyright © Summer 1990 by World Literature Today and reprinted with the permission of the Editor. Excerpts from article on Oscar Hijuelos by George R. McMurray. Copyright © Winter 1994 by World Literature Today and reprinted with the permission of the Editor. Excerpts from article on Charles Johnson by W. M. Hagen. Copyright © Spring 1991 by World Literature Today and reprinted with the permission of the Editor. Excerpts from article on Cynthia Ozick by Bernard F. Dick. Copyright © Spring 1990 by World Literature Today and reprinted with the permission of the Editor. For excerpts from v. 69, Spring, 1995. Copyright 1995 by the University of Oklahoma Press. Reproduced by permission. The World Publishing Company, for the excerpt from Carl Sanburg by Harry Golden, reprinted by permission of The World Publishing Company, Copyright © 1961 by Harry Golden; for the excerpt from lii
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS F. Scott Fitzerald and His Contemporaries by William Goldhurst, reprinted by permission of the World Publishing Company Copyright © 1963 by William Goldhurst; for the excerpts from After Alienation by Marcus Klein, reprinted by permission of The World Publishing Company, Copyright © 1962, 1964, by The World Publishing Company. Delbert E. Wylder. From article on Eastlake in New Mexico Quarterly. Yale Review. From articles by Abraham Bezanker on Bellow; Marie Borroff on Meredith, on Merrill; Mary Ellmann on Ashbery; David J. Gordon on Gardner; Paul Edward Gray on Dickey; Laurence Lieberman on Howard, on Kinnell, on Kunitz, on Stafford; Louis L. Martz on Ammons, on Creeley, on Pound, on Wakoski, on Warren; Theodore Morrison on Frost; James W. Tuttleton on Wharton; Helen Vendler on Ammons, on Cummings; Robert C. Williams on Nabokov; James Wright on Meredith; Vincent Miller on Pound; Frank Kermode on Auden; Louis L. Martz on Hollander; Maureen Howard on Barthelme; David Thorburn on Beattie; John Hollander on Merrill. Copyright 1958, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 by Yale University. Reprinted by permission of The Yale Review, copyright by Yale University. Yale University Press. From Robert A. Bone, The Negro Novel in America (Johnson, Toomer); John F. Lynen, The Design of the Present (Eliot); Raymond M. Olderman, Beyond the Wasteland (Kesey, Vonnegut); Robert A. Bone, The Negro Novel in America (Hurston); Kimberly W. Benston, Baraka: The Renegade and the Mask; Cleanth Brooks, William Faulkner: Toward Yoknapatawpha and Beyond, by permission of Yale University Press. Excerpts from Gilbert and Gubar, No Man’s Land vol. 2. Copyright © 1989 and reprinted with the permission of Yale University Press. Yale University, School of Drama. From Ren Frutkin, ‘‘Sam Shepard; Paired Existence Meets the Monster,’’ in Yale Theatre. Mary Yost Associates, Inc. From Bruce Cook, The Beat Generation (Brautigan, Kesey, Olson, Snyder). liii
    • LIST OF ENTRANTS Walter Abish Kathy Acker Henry Adams Léonie Adams James Agee Conrad Aiken Edward Albee William Alfred Nelson Algren A.R. Ammons Rudolfo Anaya Maxwell Anderson Robert Anderson Sherwood Anderson Maya Angelou John Ashbery Isaac Asimov William Attaway Louis Auchincloss W.H. Auden Paul Auster George Axelrod Irving Babbitt Jimmy Santiago Baca James Baldwin Toni Cade Bambara Russell Banks Amiri Baraka Djuna Barnes Philip Barry John Barth Donald Barthelme Richard Bausch Charles Baxter Ann Beattie S. N. Behrman David Belasco Marvin Bell Saul Bellow Robert Benchley Stephen Vincent Benét Thomas Berger John Berryman Ambrose Bierce Elizabeth Bishop John Peale Bishop R.P. Blackmur Robert Bly Maxwell Bodenheim Louise Bogan Arna Bontemps Vance Bourjaily Randolph Bourne Jane Bowles Paul Bowles Kay Boyle T. Coraghessan Boyle Ray Bradbury William Stanley Braithwaite Richard Brautigan Cleanth Brooks Gwendolyn Brooks Van Wyck Brooks Rita Mae Brown Sterling Allen Brown Pearl Buck Frederick Buechner Charles Bukowski Ed Bullins Kenneth Burke John Horne Burns William Burroughs Robert Olen Butler James Branch Cabell Abraham Cahan James M. Cain Erskine Caldwell Hortense Calisher Ethan Canin Truman Capote Rachel Carson Raymond Carver Willa Cather Michael Chabon Raymond Chandler Denise Chavez John Cheever Charles W. Chesnutt Alfred Chester Alice Childress Kate Chopin John Ciardi Sandra Cisneros Amy Clampitt Walter Van Tilburg Clark Andrei Codrescu Richard Condon Evan S. Connell, Jr. Marc Connelly Pat Conroy Robert Coover Gregory Corso Malcolm Cowley James Gould Cozzens Hart Crane Stephen Crane Robert Creeley Countee Cullen Edward Estlin Cummings Edward Dahlberg Samuel R. Delany Don DeLillo Floyd Dell Bernard DeVoto Peter De Vries Pete Dexter James Dickey Joan Didion Annie Dillard Stephen Dixon E. L. Doctorow J.P. Donleavy Hilda Doolittle John Dos Passos Rita Dove Theodore Dreiser Rosalyn Drexler W.E.B. Du Bois Alan Dugan Paul Laurence Dunbar Robert Duncan William Eastlake Richard Eberhart Walter Edmonds Lonne Elder T.S. Eliot Stanley Elkin George P. Elliott Ralph Ellison Louise Erdrich Martín Espada James Thomas Farrell Howard Fast William Faulkner Jessie Redmon Fauset Kenneth Fearing Edna Ferber Lawrence Ferlinghetti Leslie Fiedler Harvey Fierstein Dorothy Canfield Fisher Vardis Fisher Clyde Fitch Dudley Fitts F. Scott Fitzgerald Robert Fitzgerald John Gould Fletcher Shelby Foote Carolyn Forché lv
    • LIST OF ENTRANTS Richard Ford María Irene Fornés Wallace Fowlie Waldo Frank Harold Frederic Bruce Jay Friedman Robert Frost Daniel Fuchs Charles Fuller R. Buckminster Fuller William Gaddis Ernest J. Gaines Isabella Gardner John Gardner Hamlin Garland Jean Garrigue William H. Gass Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Jack Gelber William Gibson Allen Ginsberg Nikki Giovanni Ellen Glasgow Louise Gluck Gail Godwin Herbert Gold Paul Goodman Caroline Gordon Mary Gordon William Goyen Shirley Ann Grau Paul Green Horace Gregory John Guare A.B. Guthrie, Jr. Marilyn Hacker Donald Hall Dashiell Hammett Lorraine Hansberry Robert Hass John Hawkes Robert Hayden Alfred Hayes Lafcadio Hearn Joseph Heller Lillian Hellman Mark Helprin Ernest Hemingway O. Henry John Hersey Dubose Heyward Oscar Hijuelos Tony Hillerman Chester Himes Alice Hoffman John Hollander Israel Horovitz Richard Howard lvi MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Sidney Howard Irving Howe William Dean Howells Langston Hughes Richard Hugo Zora Neale Hurston David Henry Hwang David Ignatow William Inge John Irving Shirley Jackson Henry James William James Randall Jarrell Robinson Jeffers Sarah Orne Jewett Charles Johnson James Weldon Johnson Gayl Jones James Jones Erica Jong Donald Justice MacKinlay Kantor George Kelly Adrienne Kennedy William Kennedy Jack Kerouac Ken Kesey Jamaica Kincaid Sidney Kingsley Maxine Hong Kingston Galway Kinnell Carolyn Kizer Kenneth Koch Arthur Kopit Jerzy Kosinski Alfred Kreymborg Stanley Kunitz Tony Kushner Ring Lardner Richmond Lattimore John Howard Lawson David Leavitt Nelle Harper Lee Ursula K. Le Guin Denise Levertov Meyer Levin Philip Levine Sinclair Lewis Ludwig Lewisohn Vachel Lindsay Alain Locke Ross Lockridge Jack London Audre Lorde Amy Lowell Robert Lowell Alison Lurie Dwight Macdonald Ross Macdonald Percy MacKaye Archibald MacLeish Haki R. Madhubuti Norman Mailer Clarence Major Bernard Malamud Albert Maltz David Mamet William March Edwin Markham John P. Marquand Don Marquis Paule Marshall Bobbie Ann Mason Edgar Lee Masters F.O. Matthiessen Peter Matthiessen William Maxwell Cormac McCarthy Mary McCarthy Carson McCullers Phyllis McGinley Thomas McGrath Thomas McGuane Jay McInerney Claude McKay Terry McMillan Larry McMurtry H.L. Mencken William Meredith James Merrill Thomas Merton W.S. Merwin James Michener Josephine Miles Edna St. Vincent Millay Arthur Miller Henry Miller Steven Millhauser Ron Milner Margaret Mitchell N.Scott Momaday William Vaughn Moody Marianne Moore Merrill Moore Paul Elmer More Christopher Morley Wright Morris Toni Morrison Frederic Morton Bharati Mukherjee Lewis Mumford
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Vladimir Nabokov Ogden Nash George Jean Nathan Gloria Naylor Howard Nemerov Reinhold Niebuhr Anais Nin Marsha Norman Frank Norris Joyce Carol Oates Tim O’Brien Edwin O’Connor Flannery O’Connor Clifford Odets Frank o’Hara John O’Hara Sharon Olds Tillie Olsen Charles Olson Eugene O’Neill Simon Ortiz Cynthia Ozick Grace Paley Dorothy Parker V.L. Parrington Kenneth Patchen Walker Percy Marge Piercy Robert Pinsky Sylvia Plath Katherine Anne Porter Ezra Pound J.F. Powers Reynolds Price E. Annie Proulx James Purdy Thomas Pynchon David Rabe Philip Rahv Ayn Rand John Crowe Ransom Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings David Ray John Rechy Ishmael Reed John Reed Kenneth Rexroth Elmer Rice Adrienne Rich Conrad Richter Elizabeth Madox Roberts Kenneth Roberts Edwin Arlington Robinson Theodore Roethke Ole Rölvaag Judith Rossner Henry Roth Philip Roth Constance Rourke Muriel Rukeyser Damon Runyon J.D. Salinger Sonia Sanchez Carl Sandburg George Santayana William Saroyan May Sarton Murray Schisgal Budd Schulberg James Schuyler Delmore Schwartz Winfield Townley Scott Hubert Selby Anne Sexton Ntozake Shange Karl Shapiro Irwin Shaw Wilfrid Sheed Sam Shepard Robert Sherwood Leslie Marmon Silko Charles Simic Neil Simon Louis Simpson Upton Sinclair Isaac Bashevis Singer Jane Smiley W.D. Snodgrass Gary Snyder Susan Sontag Gary Soto Jean Stafford William Stafford Wilbur Daniel Steele Lincoln Steffens Wallace Stegner Gertrude Stein John Steinbeck Wallace Stevens Trumbull Stickney Robert Stone Mark Strand William Styron Harvey Swados May Swenson Amy Tan Booth Tarkington Allen Tate Peter Taylor LIST OF ENTRANTS Paul Theroux Augustus Thomas James Thurber Melvin Tolson Jean Toomer Ridgely Torrence Lionel Trilling Mark Twain Anne Tyler John Updike Mark Van Doren John Van Druten Mona Van Duyn Thorstein Veblen Gore Vidal Peter Viereck Kurt Vonnegut Diane Wakoski Alice Walker Margaret Walker Edward Lewis Wallant Robert Penn Warren Wendy Wasserstein Eudora Welty Glenway Wescott Nathanael West Edith Wharton John Hall Wheelock John Brooks Wheelwright E.B. White Reed Whittemore John Edgar Wideman Richard Wilbur Thornton Wilder C. K. Williams John A. Williams Tennessee Williams William Carlos Williams August Wilson Edmund Wilson Lanford Wilson Yvor Winters Thomas Wolfe Herman Wouk James Wright Richard Wright Elinor Wylie Stark Young Ray Young Bear Sol Yurick Louis Zukofsky lvii
    • GENRE ABBREVIATIONS Below are the abbreviations and terms used to indicate genres in author bibliographies. Bibliographies include all major works and collections, but are not intended to be exhaustive. a autobiography adaptation anthol anthology art c art criticism b biography c criticism coll collection d drama/play e essay ed editor, edition h history interview j journalism juv juvenile, children’s literature l letters lecture(s) m memoir misc miscellany n novel, novella nf nonfiction opera libretto p poetry pamphlet photographs pd poetic drama, verse play r reminiscence rd radio drama s story, stories scrp screenplay sk sketches t travel writing tr translation tv television play, television drama lix
    • P PALEY, Grace (1922–) At the level of both semantics and narrative structure, [Grace] Paley writes a subversive text, a text that exists in dialogue with the monologic impulses of dominant literature. She is an artist dedicated to making language speak the untold stories of women, even when that means flouting the semantic and narrative conventions that construct women’s silence. Paley’s standard for an open and polyvocal text is a demanding one, so demanding that she herself fails to fully satisfy it. That very failure becomes a profound critique of the capacity of literary discourse to mute the voice of the other. Even the most well-intentioned listener, Paley reminds us, is prone to suppress voices of difference. Only the most demanding politics of inclusion, one unafraid to turn the critique of monologism on the self, can begin to create the sort of open discourse that will allow everyone to find a voice. Even then, Paley would not be satisfied, for she recognizes that a truly polyvocal literature depends not only on texts that open up to many voices but on many voices creating the tales. Jacqueline Taylor. Grace Paley: Illuminating the Dark Lives (Austin: Univ. of Texas Pr., 1990), p. 128–29 To have all of Grace Paley’s stories in one collection seems like an illicit indulgence, like standing for a long time in a hot shower during a drought. For there is drought: there is no voice like hers in the world. The Collected Stories gathers together her three books, The Little Disturbances of Man [1959], Enormous Changes at the Last Minute [1974], and Later the Same Day [1985]. Though all are still in print, reading them together allows us to see Paley’s progression as a writer, as well as the continuities between the books. The boundaries of the previous books are in some ways artificial; some stories, widely separated in time, are clearly related, like cousins from two generations who share the same nose. . . . Paley’s simplest stories are the most striking. Her strategy is to tell one story and then, inside it, another—and sometimes another and another—so that the meaning of the piece is not in the trajectory of any one story but in the collision of all of them. . . . In place of a single narrative, what she offers us is voice, mostly hers or [her character] Faith’s, sometimes those of neighborhood people. Those voices—inflected, densely ironic, observant, funny— are the real heart of each of [her] stories. . . . Not only the dialogue, but also the narration itself cries out to be spoken, if only for the sake of hearing Paley’s own wry, resonant, reflective tones— which is why a collection of Paley’s stories is almost, but never enough. the Same Day, 1985 (s); Leaning Forward, 1985 (p); Long Walks and Intimate Talks, 1991 (p, s); New and Collected Poems, 1992; Collected Stories, 1994; Conversations with Grace Paley, ed. Gerhard Bach and Blaine H. Hall, 1997 (i); Just As I Thought, 1998 (a) PARKER, Dorothy (1893–1967) Dorothy Parker runs her little show as if it were a circus; she cracks her whip and the big elephant joke pounds his four legs in glee and the pink ladies of fantastic behavior begin to float in the air like lozenges. . . . Mrs. Parker has begun in the thoroughly familiar Millay manner and worked into something quite her own. . . . Miss Millay remains lyrically, of course, far superior to Mrs. Parker. . . . But there are moods when Dorothy Parker is more acceptable, whiskey straight, not champagne. Genevieve Taggard. New York Herald Tribune Book Section. March 27, 1927. p. 7 Here is poetry that is ‘‘smart’’ in the fashion designer’s sense of the word. Mrs. Parker need not hide her head in shame, as the average poet must, when she admits the authorship of this book. For in its lightness, its cynicism, its pose, she has done the right thing; she is in a class with the Prince of Wales, the Theatre Guild, Gramercy Park, and H. L. Mencken. And these somewhat facetious remarks are not intended as disparagement. It is high time that a poet with a monocle looked at the populace, instead of the populace looking at the poet through a lorgnette. Marie Luhrs. Poetry. April, 1927. p. 52 In verse of a Horatian lightness, with an exquisite certainty of technique, which, like the lustre on a Persian bowl, is proof that civilization is itself a philosophy, Dorothy Parker is writing poetry deserving high praise. . . . I suspect that one should quote Latin rather than English to parallel the edged fineness of Dorothy Parker’s verse. This belle dame sans merci has the ruthlessness of the great tragic lyricists whose work was allegorized in the fable of the nightingale singing with her breast against a thorn. It is disillusion recollected in tranquillity where the imagination has at last controlled the emotions. It comes out clear, and with the authentic sparkle of a great vintage. Henry Seidel Canby. Saturday Review. June 13, 1931. p. 891 Roz Spafford. ‘‘San Francisco Chronicle.’’ San Francisco Review. April 3, 1994, pp. 3, 7 BIBLIOGRAPHY The Little Disturbances of Man: Stories of Women and Men in Love, 1959; Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, 1974 (s); Later More certain than either death or taxes is the high and shining art of Dorothy Parker. . . . Bitterness, humor, wit, yearning for beauty and love, and a foreknowledge of their futility—with rue her heart is laden, but her lads are gold-plated—these, you might say, are the elements of the Parkerian formula; these, and the divine talent to
    • PARKER find the right word and reject the wrong one. The result is a simplicity that almost startles. Frankin P. Adams. New York Herald Tribune Book Section. June 14, 1931. p. 7 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE fine-pointed instrument unerringly discovers the carious cavity behind the smile. . . . Mrs. Parker may appear amused, but it is plain that she is really horrified. Her bantering revelations are inspired by a respect for decency, and her pity and sympathy are ready when needed. William Plomer. Spectator. Nov. 17, 1939. p. 708 To say that Mrs. Parker writes well is as fatuous, I’m afraid, as proclaiming that Cellini was clever with his hands. But it’s fun to see the lamented English language rise from the Parisian boneyard and race out front with the right jockey in the saddle, and I cannot help attempting to communicate to others my pleasure in the performance. . . . The trick about her writing is the trick about Ring Lardner’s writing or Ernest Hemingway’s writing. It isn’t a trick. Ogden Nash. Saturday Review. Nov. 4, 1933. p. 231 Drunk or sober, angry or affectionate, stupid or inspired, these people of Mrs. Parker’s speak with an accent we immediately recognize and relish. Mrs. Parker has listened to her contemporaries with as sharp a pair of ears as anyone has had in the present century, unless, to be sure, Lardner is to be considered, as he probably is, without a rival in this field. Mrs. Parker is more limited than Lardner; she is expert only with sophisticates. . . . But she does her lesser job quite perfectly, achieving as she does it a tone halfway between sympathy and satire. . . . Again it is only Ring Lardner who can be compared with her in the matter of hatred for stupidity, cruelty, and weakness. Mark Van Doren. English Journal. Sept., 1934. pp. 541–2 One comes back to Mrs. Parker’s light verse with the greatest pleasure; with its sharp wit, its clean bite, its perfectly conscious— and hence delightful—archness, it stands re-reading amply. Here her high technical polish has great virtue. . . . But what, of course, is more important is the sense of personality that converts what might otherwise be merely a witty idea into a dramatic, however cockeyed, situation; a sense of personality that gives us not cynicism in the abstract but laughter applied to an objective. There is no one else in Mrs. Parker’s special field who can do half as much. Louis Kronenberger. New York Times Book Section. Dec. 13, 1936. p. 28 Men have liked her poems because of the half-bitter, half-wistful tribute to their indispensability and their irresistible, fatal charms. A different kind of lover, the lover of light verse, has admired her extraordinary technical competence and the way in which her verse constantly veers over into the domain of genuinely lyric poetry. The wits of the town have been delighted to see a Sappho who could combine a heart-break with a wisecrack. Irwin Edman. The Nation. Dec. 19, 1936. p. 737 The urbanity of these stories is that of a worldly, witty person with a place in a complex and highly-developed society, their ruthlessness that of an expert critical intelligence, about which there is something clinical, something of the probing adroitness of a dentist: the 2 Mrs. Parker’s published work does not bulk large. But most of it has been pure gold and the five winnowed volumes of her shelf— three of poetry, two of prose—are so potent a distillation of nectar and wormwood, of ambrosia and deadly nightshade, as might suggest to the rest of us that we all write far too much. Even though I am one who does not profess to be privy to the intentions of posterity, I do suspect that another generation will not share the confusion into which Mrs. Parker’s poetry throws so many of her contemporaries, who, seeing that much of it is witty, dismiss it patronizingly as ‘‘light’’ verse, and do not see that some of it is thrilling poetry of a piercing and rueful beauty. Alexander Woollcott. The Portable Woollcott (Viking). 1946.pp. 181–2 . . .in her own stories her acidity bit most often into the gilt and brass of a certain type of American personality, the self-absorbed female snob. This happened to be a type she knew best in its middle-class manifestations. . . . Miss Parker invites comparison with [Ring] Lardner in her focus on the female companion of Lardner’s idle middle-class man, also in her frequent use of the diary form, the monologue, and trivial dialogue. Sometimes her idle, middle-class females are smug and aggressive; sometimes they are pathetic like Lardner’s ‘‘victims’’; sometimes both. Occasionally they are more amusing than anything else. Norris W. Yates, The American Humorist (Iowa State). 1964. p. 266 In print and in person, Miss Parker sparkled with a word or a phrase, for she honed her humor to its most economical size. Her rapier wit, much of it spontaneous, gained its early renown from her membership in the Algonquin Round Table, an informal luncheon club at the Algonquin Hotel in the nineteen-twenties, where some of the city’s most sedulous framers of bon mots gathered. . . . Her lifelong reputation as a glittering, annihilating humorist in poetry, essays, short stories and in conversation was complied and sustained brickbat by brickbat. One of her quips could make a fool a celebrity, and vice versa. She was, however, at bottom a disillusioned romantic, all the fiercer because the world spun against her sentimental nature. She truly loved flowers, dogs and a good cry; and it was this fundamental sadness and shyness that gave her humor its extraordinary bite and intensity. Alden Whitman. New York Times (daily). June 8, 1967. pp. 1, 38 BIBLIOGRAPHY (with George S. Chappell and Frank Crowninshield) High Society, 1920 (sk); (with Franklin P. Adams) Men I’m Not Married To,
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE 1922 (sk); (with Elmer Rice) Close Harmony, 1924 (d); Enough Rope, 1926 (p); Sunset Gun, 1928 (p); Laments for the Living, 1930 (s); Death and Taxes, 1931 (p); After Such Pleasures, 1933 (s); Collected Poems: Not So Deep As a Well, 1936; Here Lies (collected stories), 1939 PARRINGTON, V.L. (1871–1929) Now it appears that Mr. Parrington is about to start an unheaval in American literary criticism. He has yanked Miss Beautiful Letters out of the sphere of the higher verbal hokum and fairly set her in the way that leads to contact with pulsating reality—that source and inspiration of all magnificent literature. No doubt, the magpies, busy with the accedence of Horace, the classical allusions of Thoreau, and the use of the adverb by Emerson, will make a big outcry, but plain citizens who believe that the American eagle could soar with unblinking eyes against the full-orbed noonday sun if he had half a chance will clap their hands with joy and make the hills ring with gladness. . . . Our author has traced American political, economic, and social development in broad strokes and has sought to relate letters and opinion to the forces ‘‘anterior to literary schools and movements,’’ revealing the substance from which literary culture springs. In carrying out his project he has written a truly significant book; according to signs on every hand, a work that promises to be epochmaking, sending exhilarating gusts through the deadly miasma of academic criticism. Charles A. Beard. The Nation. May 18, 1927. pp. 560–2 Within its limits the book [Main Currents] has real merits. It makes clear how much American literature can reveal to the open-minded historian; it gives deserved attention to some writers little remembered today, particularly some nineteenth-century Southerners; and it is especially useful in its contributions to an understanding of certain aspects of ‘‘the colonial mind.’’ There should be hearty agreement with Professor Parrington’s protest against the narrowness implicit in the purely aesthetic point of view from which most of our colonial literature is seen as uninteresting. Many of his biographical and critical sketches of the writers by whom he charts intellectual currents are admirable; and in some of them the application of new tests to supposedly familiar figures brings real revelation. Kenneth B. Murdock. The Yale Review. Jan., 1928. p. 382 In his The Colonial Mind [Main Currents, Vol. 1], Professor Vernon Louis Parrington discusses the Puritans and Pilgrims of early Massachusetts from a rather unusual point of view. . . . Briefly, Professor Parrington’s contention seems to be this: that, among the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony, Calvinist theology and political aristocracy went hand in hand, whereas, among the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation, Lutheran theology and political democracy were equally inseparable. This attitude, especially since it is accompanied by the acceptance of the theory that the Puritan aristocrats finally acceded to PARRINGTON Separatist democratic ideals, places an uncommon emphasis upon Lutheranism as a force in the development of colonial Massachusetts. To explain this interpretation, Professor Parrington makes a brief survey of European religious and political movements relevant to Puritanism and Separatism; and, since the value of such a treatment depends upon its validity as history, it seems natural to expect definite references to the investigations of recognized authorities. It may be assumed that Professor Parrington’s reading on the subject has been comprehensive, but the works listed in his bibliography do not seem to bear out the theory that the Pilgrims were Lutheran democrats whose influence prevented the Puritans from imprinting upon America a lasting Calvinistic aristocracy. Esther E. Burch. American Literature. May, 1929. p. 115–6 Precisely because the book [Main Currents] reveals Parrington as such a vital personality, delicate in perception and felicitous in expression as well as robust of faith in the better possibilities of human life, there is real danger in a conception of literature so hazy as to allow the utilitarian to crowd out the artistic or to let that which is useful merely as a means suppress that which is delightful in itself as the heart’s desire. Public issues are of undoubted importance, but serious students must not forget that great literature is concerned also with those vital realities of our inner personal life and those enrapturing super-personal cosmic vistas compared with which the issues of public life are pale and relatively inconsequential. Professor Parrington’s politico-economic progressiveness not only befogs his conception of literature but also prevents him from fully realizing what is involved in any attempt to write of the main currents of thought of any period. For one thing, he did not sufficiently inform himself to do justice to the history of American thought in religion, science, art, education, or even law. Morris Raphael Cohen. New Republic. Jan. 28, 1931. p. 303 It is characteristic, to cite but one example, that in a book dealing with ‘‘critical realism’’ in American literature the author should practically ignore literary ideals and critical theory, that Henry George—who ‘‘did more than any other man to spread through America a knowledge of the law of economic determinism’’—is given six times as much space as Henry James. The latter is given a scant two pages out of over four hundred, and is rather bitterly derided by the defender of Jurgen and Beyond Life as representing ‘‘The Nostalgia of Culture.’’ The central question which students of literature will have to face is this: have not many contemporary literary scholars, of whom Mr. Parrington is the most gifted spokesman, tended to confuse social history and literature? Everywhere, as a disciple of Taine, Mr. Parrington considers books on the basis of whether or not they represent the ‘‘honest voice’’ of their generation in dealing with local and ephemeral topics such as, for example, the Greenback issue. Harry Hayden Clark. Bookman. Feb., 1931. p. 654 A kind of environmental or sociological interpretation of literary movements had already been gaining favor. He sharpened it, gave it point, by making it definitely economic, because of his desire to reveal the motivating interests and real direction of specific works 3
    • PARRINGTON of literature. Thus his method was part of his general intention. It is inconceivable that he would have investigated with such firmness the social ties of individual writers or been so eager to expose the sectional and class issues underlying the ideological tendency which each writer represented, if his sympathies had not been lower-class. Nowadays ‘‘class-angling’’ is not a sport of kings. Radical—not just liberal or progressive—is the word. He had none of that amiable tolerance which comes of cynicism, nor was he the kind of optimist whose buoyancy is based upon an Olympian idealism. He was partisan from the start—passionately so. Bernard Smith in Books That Changed Our Minds, edited by Malcolm Cowley and Bernard Smith (Kelmscott). 1939. p. 186 Parrington, then, deals with literature only in so far as literature is a matter of fragmentary ideas clearly visible to the innocent eye; furthermore, he deals only with a limited range of ideas, and relegates the rest to the region of illusion. Had Parrington written, as he seems to imply that he meant to write, a history of Jeffersonian liberalism, and neglected all matter irrelevant to his subject, he might have been more or less successful. But he unquestionably did not do so: he wrote what purports to be a history of American literature, but treated wholly in terms of what he conceives to be the development of Jeffersonian liberalism. The result could easily have been forecast. His frame-work of ideas has no serious relationship to most of the great writers, and, since he thus has no way of understanding them, his treatment of them is almost purely impressionistic. Yvor Winters. In Defense of Reason (Swallow). 1947. p. 560. [1943] The work [Main Currents] did not appear until 1927 and became a powerful influence only in the nineteen-thirties. But it represents the most ambitious single effort of the Progressive mind to understand itself, and can be understood only in reference to the idealism, prejudices, and characteristic sentimentality of that mind—all of which Parrington sought almost unwittingly, in the drive of his great idea, to impose upon intellectual history in America. For though Parrington often seemed to go beyond the diverse rebellions of the period, he was astonishingly loyal to them all, and often simultaneously. It was the grass-roots radical, the Populist, the Jeffersonian liberal, even the quasi-Marxist in him, that combined to make him, so outstanding a Progressive intellectual. His culture seems to have been wider than that of the others, his education less pedestrian; but these did not show in the indifference to literary values which his book displayed. Alfred Kazin. On Native Grounds (Reynal). 1942. p. 155 Vernon L. Parrington, one of our few serious cultural historians, furnishes an interesting contrast in method to Constance Rourke on [Davy] Crockett. While she is chiefly interested in the charm of the legends themselves and anxious to deny any evidence she thinks might detract from them, his effort is to place the Crockett legends in terms of political genesis and function. In a withering analysis in Main Currents of American Thought he strips the legendary hero 4 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE down to the real Crockett: a rather pathetic figure, ignorant, boastful, and ambitious; built up as an American symbol by skilled Whig publicists who wanted a coonskin hero to oppose to Jackson; used by the Whigs as long as he was usable; and then when his backwoods constituents repudiated his voting record of uninterrupted support for Eastern banking interests, tossed aside by his Whig friends. Parrington shows how the legend was built step by step, conjectures shrewdly as to who ghosted each of the books, shows the constant anti-Jackson propaganda smuggled into their comedy, and at the end shows Crockett, like so many mythologized real heroes, coming to believe the legends himself. Stanley Edgar Hyman. The Armed Vision (Knopf). 1948. p. 139 In Main Currents in American Thought two tendencies are fused. The brilliant individual characterizations, enriched by affirmative or damaging quotations, the seeking out of a qualité maîtresse in a writer, as when Parrington says of Samuel Sewell: ‘‘In his religious life he was the same prudent, plodding soul, that stowed away in his strongbox deeds to ample possessions during his pilgrimage’’— these devices remind us that this historian is heir of a tradition stretching back through Moses Coit Tyler and Taine to SainteBeuve. But he is also a child of the eighteenth century, which was his spirit’s home. His ideals are lucidity, order, a scrupulous and efficient prose. He builds as Gibbon or Voltaire built books— orderly paragraphs marching to schematized ideas. The table of contents to the unfinished third volume is a debater’s outline, a lawyer’s brief, and shows us how he worked, for his aim is not merely the right word in the right place but also the right author under the right subhead of an argument developed with mathematical rigor. Moreover, his theories of human nature likewise descend from the Enlightenment, or at least from utilitarianism. Because men are supposed to know and follow their best interests, the duty of the writer in America is to persuade and convince, to clarify, defend, and denounce, but not to charm, to astonish, to enrich the soul. Howard Mumford Jones. The Theory of American Literature (Cornell). 1948. pp. 142–3 Parrington did not regard his task as a judicial one or pretend to be objective, impartial, or aloof. He interpreted American intellectual history as a struggle between the forces of freedom and of privilege, and he deliberately took sides in that struggle. Indeed this fastidious scholar, himself so aloof from controversy, so remote from the hurly-burly of public affairs, lived all his life in the midst of battle. His splendid pages pulse and glow with passion and excitement, resound with the clash of arms and echo with the rallying cries of chieftains. He was a veritable Creasy, and all the decisive battles of American history were fought out anew in his volumes: the struggle between theocracy and Independency, Old World tyranny and New World liberty, federalism and republicanism, slavery and freedom, frontier and seaboard, agrarianism and capitalism, labor and industry. All his heroes were warriors; those who somehow did not fit into the neat scheme were passed over or made to do service in a civilian capacity, as it were. What emerged from all this was an identification of democracy with Americanism. The great tradition of American thought,
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Parrington insisted, was the tradition of liberalism and revolt; and they were the most American who spoke with the accent of radicalism—the word he originally used instead of the weaker ‘‘liberalism.’’ Henry Steele Commager. The American Mind (Yale). 1950. pp. 300–1 It is possible to say of V.L. Parrington that with his Main Currents in American Thought he has had an influence on our conception of American culture which is not equaled by that of any other writer of the last two decades. His ideas are now the accepted ones wherever the college course in American literature is given by a teacher who conceives himself to be opposed to the genteel and the academic and in alliance with the vigorous and the actual. And whenever the liberal historian of America finds occasion to take account of the national literature, as nowadays he feels it proper to do, it is Parrington who is his standard and guide. Parrington’s ideas are the more firmly established because they do not have to be imposed— the teacher or the critic who presents them is likely to find that his task is merely to make articulate for his audience what it has always believed, for Parrington formulated in a classic way the suppositions about our culture which are held by the American middle class so far as that class is at all liberal in its social thought and so far as it begins to understand that literature has anything to do with society. . . . Yet he had after all but a limited sense of what constitutes a difficulty. Whenever he was confronted with a work of art that was complex, personal and not literal, that was not, as it were, a public document, Parrington was at a loss. . . . It does not occur to Parrington that there is any other relation possible between the artist and reality than this passage of reality through the transparent artist; he meets evidence of imagination and creativeness with a settled hostility the expression of which suggests that he regards them as the natural enemies of democracy. Lionel Trilling. The Liberal Imagination (Viking). 1951. pp. 3–5 America’s intellectual history, thought Parrington, fell into the three broad phases of Calvinistic pessimism, romantic optimism, and mechanistic pessimism. Although much of his material on this last period had a deep gloom, Parrington never failed to strike the courageous note that was a tocsin to a drooping liberalism. No longer were the theologians, political philosophers, industrial masters, or bankers ‘‘the spokesmen of this vibrant life of a continent, but the intellectuals, the dreamers, the critics, the historians, the men of letters, in short; and to them one may turn hopefully for a revelation of American life.’’ To the end, Parrington held out Jeffersonian democracy as a hopeful ideal. There was thrilling writing in these volumes [Main Currents] that called a wayward America back from the drab reality of a business civilization to the day-dream of an agrarian democracy. Parrington never escaped the influence of that arch foe of industrialism, William Morris. M. Kraus. The Writing of American History (Oklahoma). 1953. pp. 354 PATCHEN A product of the Progressive era, he shared to a large extent the indictment of the great American fortunes held by Gustavus Myers and the arraignment of business and politics offered by the muckraker. His strictures on capitalism were not, as is obvious, those of the socialists, but of an obsolete agrarianism. Greatly outweighing his faulty economics were his flashes of insight into American writers and political leaders. He was ever alert to the impact of European upon American culture, and he brought to light in all his volumes many a neglected poet, novelist, essayist, critic, and seminal thinker, whose contribution to belles-lettres was small but who offered great insights into the American mind. H. Wish. The American Historian (Oxford). 1960. p. 303 In 1927 appeared the single most important book written by a historian of the frontier tradition, Vernon Louis Parrington’s Main Currents in American Thought. . . . the greatness of the book as a concluding testament to a dying tradition rests on the manner in which it clarifies the roots of this tradition in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and ultimately in seventeenth-century Puritanism. Parrington’s book is truly a summary of the main currents of American thought and the fatal impasse these currents had reached by the 1920’s. . . . And this is the fundamental significance of Parrington: his was a voice crying out to his people to return to the ways of their ancestors, to reform, to purify themselves before it was too late. Main Currents must be seen as a great expression of that peculiar Puritan theological literary form, the Jeremiad. As the Puritan preachers had warned their people at the end of the seventeenth century that they were straying from their special relationship to God as a chosen people and must face disaster if they did not turn back from corruption to live by the national covenant, so Parrington, in the 1920’s, warned his people that they must experience the terrors of history unless they too returned to the national covenant expressed by Thomas Jefferson—a covenant which promised the faithful that they might live in harmony as long as they followed nature’s principles. But his was a despairing voice from the wilderness because Parrington was not able to offer any hope that the covenant could be fulfilled in urban-industrial America. D.W. Noble. Historians Against History (Minnesota). 1965. pp. 98–9 BIBLIOGRAPHY Sinclair Lewis: Our Own Diogenes, 1927 (c); Main Currents in American Thought, I, 1927; II, 1927, III, 1930; one volume edition, 1939 (h) PATCHEN, Kenneth (1911–) At their worst his poems are like the dream compositions of a leftist editorial writer, repeating class sentiments with a strange syntactical or structural distortion. . . . Patchen’s word-pour may be praised as creative vitality or condemned as artistic debauchery, but in either case it is more wearisome than interesting. Robert Fitzgerald. Poetry. Sept. 1936. p. 342 5
    • PATCHEN Mr. Patchen has the high scorn of a certain type of young man, and the determination to use certain words that poetry has eschewed. This does not make his poetry any better. Neither does certain snarling and scrambled invective. But you have to give the man his head, because he can write desperately and movingly at times, and his era is responsible for him. Mr. Patchen is trying to talk as the tough-minded talk in the street and at the same time write poetry. It is not an easy assignment. William Rose Benét. Saturday Review. Nov. 25, 1939. p. 16 Beyond any book of poems I have encountered First Will and Testament gives a lively sense of what it is to be a young man in America in a time when, for more of the young than we like to think, living and dying have lost all meaning. Kenneth Patchen is sure of his vocation as a poet, somewhat less sure of his craft. But he is able and eloquent, witty and strong. And what he is trying to do in this book is through poetry to recover meaning. . . . His poetic speech is contemporary and close to the streets; but he has held to nothing he has heard in the streets unless it has its own vigor to recommend it. John Peale Bishop. The Nation. Dec. 2, 1939. p. 620 Whatever the idealogy of the earlier poems was, the poems themselves had a hard beauty, an imaginative frenzy abstracted out of reality, a moving sad terror. And there was a quality of bewilderment that got into the poems. In his new book (The Dark Kingdom) all of those qualities seem to be there, but they are there only as masquerades, larger, vaster in scope, but with less weight. . . . I believe Patchen to be one of the finest talents in America today. He has depth, imagination, and resourcefulness. He is ‘‘endowed’’ lyrically, but he appears a little contemptuous of it. Harvey Breit. Poetry. June, 1942. pp. 160, 162 Here (in The Dark Kingdom) is proof, if proof is needed, that Mr. Patchen is a poet. But he is also a seer, and there seems to be some danger that the seer will eat up the poet. It is possible that the seer has already taken a chunk out of the poet. What is left is, however, interesting enough. . . . There is a wealth of exciting images and sharp phrases, sometimes splendid, sometimes horrible, always violent and apocalyptic. . . . He affirms his world too vehemently, too wholeheartedly. The seer cannot wait on the slow process of poetic exploration. And this means that though there is poetry in the book there are few poems with a recognizable structure. Robert Penn Warren. The Nation. July 4, 1942. p. 17 Mr. Patchen has and habitually uses the naive vision of life. . . . But to have the naive vision and nothing else is to be a child. . . . It must be granted that Mr. Patchen knows this; the signs of his departure from the childlike approach are manifold, and include the elaborate and evasive technique of the drawing-and-type poem . . . along with other practices. . . . And these devices are to an extent successful, for they generate interesting and even brilliant effects to which the naivete then becomes contributory. Finally, however, I feel that the poems . . . do not ‘‘satisfy’’; and I trace this dissatisfaction to 6 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE the poet’s lack of a body of sharp and empirically genuine ideas— of perhaps a political and psychological nature. E.S. Forgotson. Poetry. Feb., 1944. p. 280 A representative chunk of Patchen will contain references to immortality, God and death of the gods (à la Nietzsche), capitalism, anarchism, and pacificism, sex, murder, and blood-guilt, and any number of generally unacknowledged leanings toward and derivations from psychoanalysis. . . . The fact that the tradition in which Patchen writes depends to such a large extent on surrealistic maneuvers deprives it of a good deal of the power and wisdom it claims for itself. It has staked all on a sleight-of-hand, a trick of symbolism that actually throws out the deeper human context that it is supposed to provide for literature. Patchen’s politics, for example, a kind of anarcho-pacificism, uncompromisingly opposed to capitalism and war, is the nearest thing to an escape from politics that can be contrived in political language. Isaac Rosenfeld. New Republic. Dec. 3, 1945. pp. 773–4 Faced with the problems of our complex and chaotic world, Mr. Patchen, in regarding them, is not serene in the knowledge of invisible realities, nor does he project a better world of the imagination, neither has he a program of revolt; he goes to pieces. . . . There is but one remedy—to hide his face on the breast of his beloved. . . . While he may, as his admirers claim, possess a real spark of genius, his talent is inadequate, thus far, consistently to catch this spark and blow it to a flame. Jean Starr Untermeyer. Saturday Review. March 22, 1947. pp. 15–6 There is no denying the compelling power of his poetry at its best . . . nor the tremendous vitality of the personality from whence it flows. Moreover the coupling of his name with Whitman is in a way inevitable, since the compulsion which drove Whitman to utter his ‘‘barbaric yawp’’ in nonmetrical verse is the same which urges Patchen to the audacities of his own free technique; and what transpires from the poetry of both is the sense of a ‘‘fullness of being’’ too ebullient to be confined to the sophisticated and severely disciplined modalism of regular versification. But while Whitman in spite of his ‘‘barbarism’’ achieved a kind of Olympian dignity, there is about Patchen a faint aura of darkness which betrays him as a sort of minor chthonian deity, at the same time a little above and a little below the merely human. Frajam Taylor. Poetry. Aug., 1947. pp. 270–1 Kenneth Patchen writes with much more violence (than William Carlos Williams), with a Celtic turbulence and humor, and passion for and against. . . . His descriptions are accurate, sharp with color, sounds, and tastes; and his anger can be cool and the passion turn to a love song of surprising delicacy. . . . There is much of death and graves in the poetry, the rollicking dead under beer cans, the dead of history and legend, all of them envious of those alive, however evil their lot may be. Eugene Davidson. The Yale Review. Summer, 1949. p. 725
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Much of Patchen’s work is conceived in the limbo of nightmare, in a world where the humor is worse than the horror. Frenzy rules here; phantasmagoria triumphs in slapstick satire, casual killings, and sinister obscenity. But there is more to Patchen than his power to evoke ugliness, violence, and nonchalant treachery. . . . The tone is savage disillusionment, but not apathy; it is rebellious and ribald, indignant and desperate, but clean-cut even in its fury. Louis Untermeyer. Modern American Poetry (Harcourt). 1950. p. 642 It is Patchen who extends the vision of (Henry) Miller and Céline to the farthest stretches of sanity and by the agility and poetry of his language brings their wail to full throat. Patchen, whose basic message, after all the variations, is no more than this: WE BELIEVE IN YOU. THERE IS NO DANGER. IT IS NOT GETTING DARK. WE LOVE YOU. He tells you again and again: ‘‘I must tell you what I have said is not true. This is all a damn lie.’’ But we still remember what we wanted to see, what we wanted to hear. We must milk dry the doubt he provides us with. It is all he leaves us to combat the terrors he has made rise in us. But one senses, in a stunned way, that it is a very valuable thing to have. Hugh McGovern. New Mexico Quarterly. Summer, 1951. p. 195 BIBLIOGRAPHY Before the Brave, 1936 (p); First Will and Testament, 1939 (p); The Journal of Albion Moonlight, 1941 (m); Teeth of the Lion, 1942 (p); The Dark Kingdom, 1942 (p); Cloth of the Tempest, 1943 (p); Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer, 1945 (n); An Astonished Eye Looks Out of the Air, 1945 (p); Selected Poems, 1946 (enlarged edition, 1958); Outlaw of the Lowest Planet (selections), 1946 (p); Sleepers Awake, 1946 (e); A Letter to God, 1946 (e); Pictures of Life and Death, 1947 (p); They Keep Riding Down All the Time, 1947 (p); Panels for the Walls of Heaven, 1947 (p); See You in the Morning, 1948 (n); Red Wine and Yellow Hair, 1949 (p); To Say If You Love Someone, 1949 (p); The Famous Boating Party, 1953 (p); Fables, 1953 (s); Orchards, Thrones and Caravans, 1955 (p); Glory Never Guesses, 1955 (p); A Surprise for the Bagpipe Player, 1956 (p); Poems of Humor and Protest, 1956; Poemscapes, 1956; Hurrah for Anything, 1957 (p); When We Were Here Together, 1957 (p); Because It Is, 1959 (p); Selected Love Poems, 1960; But Even So, 1965 (p); Doubleheader (Poemscapes and Hurrah for Anything), 1966 (p); Hallelujah Anyway, 1966 (p); Like Fun I’ll Tell You, 1966 (p); Collected Poems, 1968 PERCY, Walker (1916–1990) During the Thirties critics talked a lot about modern man’s fragmented image. . . . This subject was illuminated in fiction in the middle of the Nineteenth Century by Dostoevsky in his remarkable expository novel: Notes from Underground—though few there were then who grasped his light. In a novel of remarkably similar form, the poet-novelist Albert Camus re-examined the theme in PERCY 1956: The Fall. And now it has been done, in the milieu of the postmodern barbarians, by Walker Percy in The Moviegoer—in like form and comparably sharp illumination. The formal similarity of these three novels is marked and, I think, significant. Each presents a narrator-hero who reveals himself to be a villain—or, more exactly, a damned man seeking salvation. They report on humanism, however, at different points in its history. In Notes from Underground scientific humanism is first exposed. In The Fall it is recognized for what it is, but through pride that apes humility, still clung to. In the world of The Moviegoer, however, it has already been abandoned and our hero stumbles amid its shards and glimmering confusion toward a clear but distant candle. Brainard Cheney. Sewanee Review. Autumn, 1961. p. 691 There are flaws in The Moviegoer, certainly. One character, Sam Yerger, a figure of superhuman wisdom who imitates Amos ‘n’ Andy, is preposterous from start to finish, and a mistake. Sometimes Jack’s philosophy, as when he meditates on ‘‘the geniesoul,’’ is just blather. There are occasional pretentious attempts to make Jack’s search seem not neurotic but deeply spiritual, along the lines of Percy’s unfortunate statement on receiving the National Book Award that his novel shows Judaeo-Christian man as ‘‘a wayfarer and a pilgrim.’’ These are minor failings in a considerable success. I think that The Moviegoer is a better novel than the work it most readily brings to mind, Albert Camus’ The Stranger. It is patronizing and ridiculous to say of a 46-year-old man who has been late publishing his excellent first novel that he shows ‘‘promise.’’ Walker Percy shows performance. Stanley Edgar Hyman. New Leader. April 30, 1962. p. 24 He avoids [in The Last Gentleman] plain narrative as if it were poison ivy. Everything is prismatic, discrete, a matter of halfconveyed hints; the reader has to work so hard to sort out what is going on that after a while he begins to congratulate himself: This isn’t just any old novel, but a novel written for very alert people. Important questions of motivation are consistently varnished with irony until they become too slick to take hold of. All the characters are lightly brushed with satire, including the central character himself, so that at any given moment it is quite impossible to tell whether Mr. Percy is entirely behind what he is telling us or slightly to one side of it—and if the latter, which side. And—it goes without saying, in this kind of novel—central plot episodes are presented in so glancing a fashion, because of the author’s holy dread of straightforward narrative exposition, that the reader, glued to the page in the effort to decipher the story, cannot muster the energy to feel moved. There is, of course, nothing accidental about this. Mr. Percy is a breathtakingly brilliant writer, and it is part of his brilliance that, having taken one’s breath, he hands it back with a smile of ironic knowingness. John Wain. New York Review of Books. July 28, 1966. p. 23 In all of Percy’s novels the hero inherits what amounts to an orthodox Christian view of man and his relation to reality, but the 7
    • PERCY world inhabited by the hero is dominated by ideas that are powerfully twisted away from any orthodox view. In the first three novels the heroes finally achieve, despite the age they live in, a religious apprehension of their own stance in the world. In the fourth novel [Lancelot], however, the protagonist is maddened by what he sees as the ineffectuality of Christianity in a world he finds intolerable. Vowing to take matters into his own hands, Lancelot becomes a modern Gnostic. . . . Two crucial aspects of Gnosticism are worth emphasizing here: (1) Man the creature is not responsible for the evil in which he finds himself. He has a right to blame it on someone or something else. The assumption that ‘‘In Adam’s fall/We sinned all’’ is to the Gnostic pure nonsense. And (2) Man’s salvation depends upon his own efforts. He must rely not upon faith but on gnosis, the secret knowledge that makes it possible for him to evade the snares and entanglements of the demon and to reunite his soul with the divinity from which he has come. . . . A Gnostic impatience with human limitations can easily convert into a hubristic denial of one’s own limitations and an amoral disregard for ethical systems demanding decency in the human community. That seems to be what happens to Lancelot Andrewes Lamar, the character whom Walker Percy has presented as the complete twentieth-century Gnostic—a millennialist through and through— confident that he knows how to reform a corrupt world and willing to kill if he cannot cure. . . . The ending of Lancelot is ambiguous, but I think that Percy juxtaposes the speaker and the auditor, the Gnostic and the Christian, in order to suggest that we are indeed in an either/or situation. Either we accept alienation as our necessary condition—acknowledging the world’s evil condition and helping to ameliorate it, but never presuming to believe that we can eliminate it—and live in faith, or we will find our own theories inviting and condoning the Hitlers, the Idi Amins, and the Lancelots of the world. Cleanth Brooks. Southern Review. Autumn, 1977, pp. 678, 680, 685–86 Despite repeated protestations that, as a novelist, he owes little to the South, Percy has not only located each of his novels in the region, but drawn poignantly of its ‘‘atmosphere’’; there are passages in The Last Gentleman that reveal the author firmly the realist, as anxious as Zola or Flaubert to capture a limited part of what some of us these days call ‘‘the environment’’. . . . Anyone who has spent time in the Mississippi Delta knows how exact, how fine and right Percy’s writing is. He will repeatedly tell a Yankee visitor that unlike Faulkner, Eudora Welty, or Flannery O’Connor, he has spent little time with the region’s ‘‘plain folk,’’ black or white, and has followed the example of continental novelists, from Dostoevski to Sartre and Camus. Yet Percy loves the South, and if he doesn’t give us the weird, bizarre, or overwhelmingly dreary people that many of the region’s other novelists have made a point of putting before us, he at the very least evokes the atmosphere, the conditions of life which surround and define the lives of those who belong to a particular region. Not that he is a committed realist, either. Naturalistic observation gives way frequently to flashes of psychological subjectivity. Humorous, beguiling comedy, in no need of any heavy symbolic interpretation, and quite pleasing to the reader, gives way to densely abstract speculation, rendered through an obvious and not especially original 8 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE literary device: the notebook left inadvertently but conveniently lying about. The notebook is Sutter’s, and it is quite worthy of Marcel; and Heidegger, one believes, though he would not be capable of Sutter’s earthy, blunt, Rabelaisian side, would certainly recognize the ideas of this wayward, distracted, near-suicidal doctor. Robert Coles. Walker Percy: An American Search (Atlantic–Little Brown, 1978), pp. 181–82 Walker Percy belongs among a small group of writers in our time who have done something for modern American literature that many people thought would never be done. He and novelists like Saul Bellow, Flannery O’Connor, and J.F. Powers—to name people from three regions—have given to contemporary American fiction an intellectual and even a philosophical tone lacking in classic modern writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Percy and writers like him have become intellectually involved with European thinkers and novelists and have used insights gained from this involvement without losing their own native genius for writing fiction. They have not cut themselves off from their ethnic and regional traditions but rather have followed these traditions back to their sources in the Old World. They have derived benefits from being Jewish or Catholic or even Episcopalian that other and perhaps greater writers of the American past often did not know. Thus Percy cannot be pigeonholed as, say, a Catholic novelist. Instead, Percy is a novelist of profound intellectual curiosity and sensitivity. He feels himself more closely aligned with the continental novelists, for ‘‘the European novels are more philosophical, more novels of ideas’’ than English and American novels are. The ideas in Percy’s novels are basically Kierkegaardian, but the novels are not simply a framework for presenting the Danish philosopher’s ideas. Instead, Kierkegaard is, for Percy, as Emerson was for Whitman, a kind of flame that brought the author to a boiling point. When one writer influences another the way Kierkegaard influenced Percy, it is not because one gives and the other takes certain ideas. It is because the older author brings the younger author face to face with one or more of the archetypes. It is Kierkegaard’s encounter with the archetypal mythic quester, his ‘‘knight of faith,’’ that helped to shake Percy out of his mental fixation on the general laws of science. Ideas usually inspire men and women to generate more ideas, but archetypes set flowing a stream of images in the psyches of artists who are receiving a torch from their masters. Ted R. Spivey. In The Art of Walker Percy: Stratagems for Being, ed. Panthea Reid Broughton (Louisiana State Univ. Pr., 1979), pp. 273–74 Like so many existentialists Percy attempts in his theory of language, as well as his novels, to recover the human being from the Cartesian split of mind and body which dominates much of twentieth-century thinking. Percy is, of course, influenced greatly by Kierkegaard in these matters; and his radical anthropology has its base in the Kierkegaardian insistence on individual sovereignty and choice as well as in the Judeo-Christian view of man as the fallen seeker. As Percy has often said, he writes in ‘‘the Christian context,’’ and his theory of man is also modeled after the Judeo-Christian anthropology. He believes that this theory is flexible enough to be
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE adapted to the twentieth century, provided that those who adopt it confront the notion of the Fall. The Christian is always faced with the problem of an estrangement which goes beyond the estrangement attributable to technology, to capitalist competition, and failure to adapt to certain social structures. The ‘‘normal,’’ common fate of human beings in the Judeo-Christian tradition is alienation. The human being is a seeker, homo viator, exploring its alienation from self, others and God. Cecil L. Eubanks. In Walker Percy: Art and Ethics, ed. Jac Tharpe (Univ. Pr. of Mississippi, 1980), pp. 122–23 I see [Walker] Percy’s conversion to Catholicism and his acceptance of man’s metaphysical dimension, over and above his existence as an integral part of the cosmos, as the most important key to an understanding of his work, a key that seems to have been neglected by a growing number of critics who tend to focus primarily on his literary achievement. From his Christian standpoint, Percy diagnoses our modern human situation of alienation and the role language plays in this, both in his essays and in his fiction. He addressed himself to man’s aporia and, based upon his faith, announces that there are messages ‘‘from across the seas.’’ Though he thinks of himself as an artist, Percy acts like an Old Testament prophet and an apostle malgre lui called to ‘‘proclaim the message and welcome or unwelcome insist on it.’’ . . . In his search for an answer to the human enigma Percy had worked with scientific parameters but had found that neither behaviorism nor psychology in general nor linguists addressed themselves properly to the problem. As one devoted to science, who liked ‘‘its elegance and precision,’’ Percy described his approach as ‘‘essentially behavioral, beginning with observable data.’’ He was deeply disappointed when he found out that ‘‘science can say everything about man except what he is in himself’’ (Conversations 59; see also 137, 294). Most of all Percy had hoped for an answer through the study of language, which is strongly based in empiricism yet intersects always with existential insights. But here, too, he came to realize that [Noah] Chomsky’s ‘‘Language Acquisition Device,’’ for example, ‘‘appears to be a black box whose contents are altogether unknown’’ (Message 302). At one point, Percy himself was on the verge of falling into the empiricist trap by pointing out a specific location in the brain for the uniquely human delta factor. In ‘‘A Theory of Language’’ he suggested tentatively with Norman Geschwind that this location could be ‘‘the human inferior parietal lobule, which includes the angular and supramarginal gyri, to a rough approximation areas 39 and 40 of Brodman’’ (Message 326). This area is similar to the one which Dr. More in Love in the Ruins had tried to measure with his lapsometer, an attempt which Percy in a comment on the novel had disavowed as futile: ‘‘The big mistake was in him, that he could believe he could treat a spiritual disease with a scientific device however sophisticated’’ (Conversations 85). Percy increasingly turned to the study of philosophy and theology. He worked his way through Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae and the works of such modern Thomists as Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel, having first studied [Sören] Kierkegaard’s existentialist writings. As a scientist he was moved by Aquinas’s clear argument that faith is a form of knowledge. He accepted the view that man, though affected by postlapsarian defects, partakes of both animal and angelic natures, and can, therefore, be seen as being essentially different from all other creatures, unique in that PERCY he can be characterized with the epithets ens loquens and ens risible. Percy found his idea of the alienated individual centrally placed in Kierkegaard, whom he gratefully acknowledged as a source of inspiration: ‘‘Here I am a Catholic writer living in Louisiana, and yet the man to whom I owe the greatest debt is this great Protestant theologian’’ (Conversations 127). He describes Kierkegaard’s essay, ‘‘The Difference between a Genius and an Apostle,’’ as the single most important essay that led to his conversion. He claims to accept Kierkegaard’s distinction between the function of the genius—who sees the word sub specie aeternitatis but does not have the authority to tell any news—and that of the apostle—who ‘‘is precisely a man who has the authority to come and tell everybody the news.’’ But Percy’s writings suggest that he actually acts as an apostle in the guise of a genius. Karl-Heinz Westarp. ‘‘Message to the Lost Self: Percy’s Analysis of the Human Situation.’’ Renascence. Spring, 1992, pp. 218–19 Walker Percy’s indebtedness to existentialism (and specifically to Kierkegaard) has been pointed out so often that there is no need to belabor it here. Suffice it to say that from The Moviegoer through Lancelot, Percy defines consciousness as exclusively male. As long as Percy remained under this influence, he was virtually unable to create meaningful relationships between men and women. Not only is his portrayal of womanhood distorted in the novels prior to The Second Coming, but also his male characters’ inability to forge and develop meaningful relationships results from these distortions. It was only after Percy moved away from this sphere of influence that his fiction boasted a rounded depiction of womanhood and a fully meaningful relationship. Throughout his fiction, Percy connects the rejection and victimization of women with men’s fear of their sexuality. In The Moviegoer, Binx shies from Kate’s ‘‘not whorish bold but theorish bold carrying on’’ (200) to the point of impotence. Will Barrett in The Last Gentleman can ‘‘hardly’’ consummate his union with Kitty. In Lancelot, Lance Lamar disintegrates under the sexual demands of his second wife, Margot. And the later Will, fresh from discovering the joy of love and sex combined, repeats his old cliché, musing about Kitty’s ‘‘special boldness’’ and concluding that ‘‘women grow more lustful as they grow older’’ (322). In Percy’s fiction, sexual women are ‘‘punished’’ in a number of ways for the sexuality that misogyny has conventionally stigmatized. Kate loses all ‘‘self’’ by becoming integrated into the paradigm of male authority: she has to be told what to do and say to the point where her individuality becomes totally erased. . . . By any feminist standards, this would suffice to ban Percy’s works from the feminist syllabus on the grounds of sexism. Or, on the contrary, one might join the scholarly chorus of those who still think that gender issues are not of vital importance to Percy’s worldview. Adopting either of the two attitudes, however, means confusing the identities of author and character in Percy’s fiction. Percy’s male protagonists (the epithet sounds tautological, for prior to The Second Coming, all Percy’s protagonists were male) fail, if not in their quests, then surely in their relationships with women. And their failure in forging and developing relationships with women stems not only from their incomprehension of women in their lives, but also from the nature of their goal: a unique (read: performed solitarily) quest for faith the realization of which could 9
    • PIERCY be threatened by a relationship with a ‘‘separate’’ female individual. Binx exemplifies what Northrop Frye calls a ‘‘stylized figure’’ (306), a carrier of Kierkegaard’s notion of the Knight of Faith. The younger Will wavers among several contending forces in a fashion reminiscent of Jake Horner in John Barth’s early novel, The End of the Road, sooner resembling an allegorical agent than flesh and blood man. And Lance, likewise embarked on a quest of sorts, epitomizes the characteristics of Percy’s earlier protagonists in his incapacity to understand, let alone love, any woman. Nonetheless, it would be a gross exaggeration to say that the extreme case of Lance or Percy’s other male protagonists voice their author’s convictions about women. If such were the case, why did Percy make of Lance such a pitiful, if not revolting, figure? Why, in the final episode of The Moviegoer do we come to pity not only Kate, whom Binx ‘‘hands along’’ her journey downtown, but also Binx himself? If Binx’s role in their marriage amounts to just this ‘‘handing along,’’ then he surely picked up the right profession (at the conclusion of the novel he enters medical school). And why, in The Last Gentleman, did Percy make Will miss the import of the crucial scene of Jamie’s baptism, just the way Kate missed a parallel event in The Moviegoer? Why, in other words, does the Percy protagonist almost invariably fail? Percy provides the answer to these questions in an interview with John Dewey on the subject of his debt to Kierkegaard’s thought, where he confesses his unease with Kierkegaard’s notion of subjectivity. What he finds lacking in subjectivity is, in Percy’s words, an ‘‘understanding or an explanation of inter-subjectivity—caring for the other person’’ (Conversations 119). Elzbieta H. Olcksy. ‘‘From Silence and Madness to the Exchange That Multiplies: Walker Percy and the Woman Question.’’ Southern Quarterly. Spring, 1993, pp. 59–60, 61 BIBLIOGRAPHY The Moviegoer, 1961 (n); The Last Gentleman, 1966 (n); Love in the Ruins, 1971 (n); The Message in the Bottle, 1975 (e); Lancelot, 1977 (n); The Second Coming, 1980 (n); Lost in the Cosmos, 1983 (e); Conversations, 1985 (r, i.e., interviews); The Thanatos Syndrome, 1987 (n); Signposts in a Strange Land, 1991 (r, e.g., interviews); The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy, ed. Jay Tolson, 1997 PIERCY, Marge (1936–) Dance the Eagle [to Sleep] is a novel deeply informed by experience with revolt and revelation during the past decade, but . . . it is not a happy, idyllic romp, a lyrical reassurance that the Generation Gap has opened into Happy Hollow. . . . The classics that Marge Piercy has chosen as models are those dark fantasies, like Lord of the Flies and Lord of the Rings, lordbooks heavy with pessimism and persecution, and animated by the age-old Manichean struggle between Good and Evil in which winners are somehow always losers. Dance the Eagle [to Sleep] tells the story of some not-too-distant time in which a small army of youth, drawn together by mutual feelings of alienation and hostility towards an oppressive, dehumanized system, declare themselves a 10 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE nation apart. Secession first takes the form of an armed takeover of a New York City high school and the establishment of a communal lifestyle during the ensuing siege. Though the initial revolt is put down, the rebels retreat to the New Jersey countryside for a prolonged period of communal experience, self-imposed and underground exile which is followed by a suicidal episode of guerrilla counter-attack. The resulting holocaust of repression by ‘‘them’’ scatters and decimates the rebels, but like an earlier Civil War, does not diminish the spirit of secession. The firestorm passes, leaving smoldering embers that are carefully nurtured by the surviving few. . . . Dance the Eagle [to Sleep] is a frightening book, which will reassure only those who can take solace from the fact that it is cast as a futuristic novel. This is no real solace, since Marge Piercy has used the future only as a parabolic mirror of the recent past; her novel is indirectly about the Movement, more specifically about the rise, fragmentation, and fall of the Students for a Democratic Society. The future setting allows her a certain freedom of exaggeration and abstraction, so that she may elevate the rise and fall of Reich III into a Götterdämmerung of symbolic and tragic proportions, and by so doing extrapolate and give fabulous substance to the essential Myth of the Movement. Seen from this angle, the novel leaves the reader with a devastating sense of how far apart the generations have indeed moved, that the Gap has become an abyss. It is obvious that Piercy feels that her compatriots have passed through a trial by fire, that they are scattered and diminished but that the encounter has been a confrontation of massive proportions and implication. They have gained more than they have lost, and what they have gained is the solidarity of identity, a new consciousness far more sombre in implication than a sappy love of bell-bottoms and peanut butter. John Seelye. New Republic. Dec. 12, 1970, pp. 24–25 At the very beginning and the very end of this rambling novel [Small Changes] Marge Piercy powerfully covers that particular quality of lost identity and desperation which, once recognized as common experience, has sparked the rage and solidarity of the women’s liberation movement and created the concept of women’s consciousness. The novel spans the 1960’s in the lives of two women: Beth, the provincial working-class girl who discovers that the ideal marriage she’s always dreamed of is a living hell and gathers her strength to escape it; and Miriam, the brilliant, ‘‘independent’’ mathematician, who is caught, blinded and thoroughly trapped—at least for the moment—by a middle-class version of the same nightmare. In exploring both of their lives against a blurry background of late 1960’s youth culture and radical politics, Piercy means to show the cross-class experience of women’s oppression, to demonstrate the situations in which it occurs and to show some of the ways in which it is confronted. She succeeds in the first, and that success is the novel’s strength; but it cannot compensate for the wordy, rhetorical and often monotonous quality of much of the narrative, nor for the fact that its author forces highly unconvincing resolutions to situations that are described at such length that they deserve at least open-ended fates. . . . A final problem. Many women radicals will understand this novel’s hostility to political ‘‘heaviness’’ on the American left, and how one of its functions was to celebrate machismo at the same time it relegated women activists to the kind of subservient roles
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE that a real revolution must banish. But I wonder if most nonmovement readers of the book won’t assume that the hostility is directed toward the general priorities of the 1960’s left. Piercy has been careless about her targets, and her failure to integrate and unify the issues that float through the novel—feminism, the antiwar movement, the oppression of the working class, the Government’s outrageous (and continuing) use of grand juries to harass and jail radicals—implies that most of these concerns should be discarded in favor of the more important struggle, sexual equality and freedom. On the basis of Piercy’s first two novels, and her often eloquent poetry, I find it hard to believe that she means this; yet it’s disturbing that, in a novel of this length, set among highly politicized people, almost all of the characters are obsessively self-concerned: with alternate life-styles, aspects of communal living, their own emotions. Neither poverty nor racism, for example, is more than casually mentioned. The problem of how to transform the cultural conditioning of women, which is inseparable from transforming the lives of all the exploited and the structure of the society that keeps them that way, is a profound one. Piercy shows what happens when women struggle for themselves (Beth) and what happens when they give up (Miriam). But the context in which the author allows their lives to evolve is too rigid, too blurry and sometimes too downright confused to grant the characters she has created the reality and the strength they deserve. Sara Blackburn. New York Times Book Section. Aug. 12, 1973. pp. 2–3 Piercy’s desire is for a world of wholeness and completeness, where natural growth and development can lead to a satisfying participation in the fullness of life. As individual poems recount instances in which a sense of wholeness is attempted or gained or lost, they also explore the attitudes and actions necessary for a state of sustained community. . . . As a woman, Piercy is particularly concerned about women and their ability to participate with integrity in a fully-realized life. In a number of poems, she examines the female growing-up process in America; in each case, the young girl is shown to possess great potential strength and individuality which is slowly but surely diverted or covered over. . . . Traditionally, a male/female dichotomy has been assumed in which the male has been viewed primarily as an objective, rational, abstract theorizer, too busy with the important intellectual progress of the world to be bothered by daily problems. The female, on the other hand, has been viewed primarily as an emotional, subjective, grubby doer of ordinary tasks. Man equals mind equals significant mode of knowing and being; woman equals body equals lesser mode of knowing and being. What Piercy wants to do is to change the value assigned to these two modes; and, in addition, she wants to synthesize and unify the separate parts to form whole people: thinking, feeling men and women, confident in mind and body. . . . Piercy views contemporary America as a dream turned nightmare. The fertile land which once offered a place of freedom and tolerance—a place of growth—has now become full of death and destruction. Possession, subjugation, and selfishness have violated the land itself and the people who live in this society. Jean Rosenbaum. Modern Poetry Studies. Winter, 1977, pp. 193–94, 201–2, 204 PIERCY Marge Piercy is a prolific novelist and poet, a one-time organizer for SDS, who has become a spokesman for radical feminism. Though she presents herself as a revolutionary, battling against orthodoxies of every kind—political, cultural, sexual—her novels are surprisingly conventional. In conception and style, in the grim determination of her didactic intentions, her work is reminiscent of the radical-proletarian fiction of the 1930’s, in which the message outweighed the manner of its telling. In each of her six novels, Miss Piercy seizes upon a problem that she regards as symptomatic of a sick, unjust, patriarchal society, and builds a heavily documented narrative around that problem to drive her moral home. In Woman at the Edge of Time she concentrated on mistreatment of the insane; in Small Changes on women trapped in repressive marriages; in Dance the Eagle to Sleep on the exploitation of radical women by their sexist comrades; in The High Cost of Living on the high cost of being a lesbian in a bigoted academic milieu. Through the exhaustive detailing of social and sexual atrocities, Miss Piercy turns her novels into indictments crackling with outrage. Now and then she has tried to leaven the heavy freight of actuality that is her stock in trade with utopian imaginings, in the spirit of Doris Lessing’s more elaborate science fiction, as in the futuristic dream world envisioned in Woman at the Edge of Time. But these fantasies are just as programmatic as her realistic novels. . . . In her most recent novel, Vida, Marge Piercy looks back with elegiac nostalgia to the 1960’s and the exhilarations of the anti-war movement as remembered by Vida Asch, a Weatherman fugitive. . . . What is in some ways most bewildering about Vida is the way Marge Piercy’s ideological severity toward bourgeois values— ‘‘We can’t make a new society in the shell of the old if we’re living a middle-class existence’’—is insidiously overwhelmed by her rather girlish enthusiasm for the good things of that life. . . . Vida is crammed with . . . arcane trivia, the sort of padding that was left out of an earlier and far more affecting fictional account of the antiwar apostles of violence, M. F. Beal’s Amazon One, published in 1975. In that powerful novel, Miss Beal captured the derangement, the complacency, the resentful and terrified confusion of the Weatherman mentality in fiercely compressed prose that had the authentic ring of imaginative and historical truth. Next to M. F. Beal’s radical activists, Marge Piercy’s pale into ideological cartoons. Vida, almost twice as long as Amazon One, is stale and self-indulgent, leaving no breathing space or room for thought between writer and protagonist. At the end of this revolutionary soap opera, our heroine is still free, still running, and charged with unfounded confidence, as she walks into the sunset, that ‘‘What swept through us and cast us forward is a force that will gather and rise again.’’ Those who have no sense of history can believe anything. Pearl K. Bell. Commentary. July, 1980, pp. 59–60 Marge Piercy is known in England mainly as a novelist. That the author of Vida and Woman on the Edge of Time is also a powerful, distinctively American poet may come as a surprise, even to her admirers. As might be expected. The Moon Is Always Female reflects the uncompromising bias of the committed feminist, of which some of us by now are weary. But Marge Piercy’s poems are so energetic and so intelligent that weariness is out of the question. This is, in fact, her sixth book of poems, and it is an excellent one. A tough, often humorous, sometimes angry view of herself emerges from the poems, yet they are free of embitterment. They lack that harsh edge of hysterical accusation—as if with a few nasty words 11
    • PIERCY one could instantly abolish half the human race—which spoils so many poems by women these days. Here finally is a feminist artist for whom one need rarely blush. The Moon Is Always Female is gratifyingly longer than most poetry volumes, and absorbing throughout. In effect, Ms. Piercy is still a novelist in her poems; she has perfected an easy flowing unrhymed line in which she says what she means with few frills. If you object to poems that tell you things, then you will not like this book. . . . It is possible, of course, to find all this feminist rabblerousing annoying. However good the advice, poetry may not be the best vehicle for it. Indeed, if Marge Piercy were only a rabblerouser she would not be a poet. The fact is, she can be as subtle as anyone writing today. . . . ‘‘At the well’’ alone would convince me that Marge Piercy is one of America’s major writers. . . . The strength of Piercy’s work is its outwardness, its frankness. Even if you do not agree with her, you have to meet Marge Piercy halfway. Anne Stevenson. TLS: The Times Literary Supplement. Jan. 23, 1981, p. 81 Perhaps no other poet of this generation has more consistently identified herself with the political and social movements of her own times. Her earlier involvements were with the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 60’s, which generated in turn the women’s-rights and antiwar movements of the 70’s. For anyone interested in what’s been happening on the cutting edge during the past two decades, she’s clearly essential reading. Miss Piercy has the double vision of the utopian: a view of human possibility—harmony between the sexes, among races and between humankind and nature—that makes the present state of affairs clearly unacceptable by comparison. The huge discrepancy between what is and what could be generates anger, and many of these are angry poems—which, for those who want poetry to be nothing but beautiful, will mean points off. Because her poetry is so deliberately ‘‘political’’—which, for some, means anything not about ghosts and roses—how you feel about it will depend on how you feel about subjects such as male-female relations, abortion, war and poverty. Those who don’t like these subjects will use adjectives like ‘‘shrill’’ to describe the poems. . . . Taken as a whole—and I recommend you do so only slowly, as this is rich fare—this collection [Circles on the Water] presents the spectacle of an agile and passionate mind rooted firmly in time and place and engaging itself with the central dilemmas of its situation. . . . If poets could be divided into Prioresses and Wives of Bath, Miss Piercy would very definitely be a Wife of Bath. Low on fastidiousness and high on what Hazlitt called ‘‘gusto,’’ earthy, bawdy, interested in the dailiness of life rather than in metaphysics, highly conscious of the power relationships between men and women but seeing herself by no means as a passive victim, she is ready to enter the fray with every weapon at her command. She is, in sum, a celebrant of the body in all its phases, including those that used to be thought of as vulgar. Surprisingly, her poetry is more humorous than her novels, although not all of it is what you’d call funny. The Wife of Bath was sometimes a savage ironist, and so is Miss Piercy. Neither has much interest in being ladylike. . . . Tidiness is not her virtue, but then in the hierarchy of virtues this is surely not at the top. Essentially her poetry is a poetry of statement and story, and metaphor and simile are, characteristically, used by her as illustration rather than as structural principle. 12 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE This does not bother me very much, since it’s a mistake for a reader to look for the same qualities in every poet. Miss Piercy’s emotional range is great, and at her best she can make you laugh, cry, get angry; she can inspire you with social purpose and open doors through which you may walk into lived reality. One effect she almost never achieves, because she almost never tries for it, is that touch of the cold hand at the back of the neck, that glimpse into the borderlands. The darkness she sees is human-created and therefore potentially correctable. . . . Margaret Atwood. New York Times Book Section. Aug. 8, 1982, pp. 10–11, 22 In her brief biography at the back of The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing (1978), the book from which these lines come, [Marge] Piercy writes that she and her housemates grow all their own vegetables and a ‘‘fair amount’’ of fruit. She further notes that she tried to shape the book ‘‘as a growth ring, the record of a year.’’ In a review, Diane Wakoski calls Piercy ‘‘one of the pioneers of twentieth-century earth poetry.’’ Piercy titled an early book of poems To Be of Use (1973), and she speaks repeatedly of the work involved in loving, making a community, gardening—calling a book of poems Hard Loving (1969), a novel Braided Lives, and a collection of nonfiction prose Parti-Colored Blocks for a Quilt. Like [Adrienne] Rich, whom she quotes, Piercy believes ‘‘increasingly that only the willingness to share private and sometimes painful experiences can enable women to create a collective description of the world which will be truly ours.’’ Her hope is to join with other women who ‘‘are working to make part of the same quit to keep us from freezing to death in a world that grows harsher and bleaker—where male is the norm and the ideal human being is hard, violent, and cold: a macho rock. Every woman who makes of her living something strong and good is sharing bread with us.’’ . . . Piercy’s accessible, usually first-person, ‘‘lyric-narrative’’ poetic quickly orients her readers, makes them feel at home. Piercy demonstrates what Tess Gallagher describes as the ‘‘cozy use of ego in American poetry in which the ‘I’ seems often in exact coincidence with the poet in divulging family secrets’’ (Concert of Tenses 53). I don’t agree with Gallagher, however, that such writing produces ‘‘in some poets a state of near psychic bankruptcy,’’ especially because Piercy’s ‘‘I’’ (and eye) seem expansive, what with her commitment to a ‘‘strong sense of responsibility’’ toward others. Piercy’s work does tally with Gallagher’s other astute observation, however, that the lyric poem is often so entirely dependent on narrative and anecdotal strategies that the distinction between the narrative and the lyric has been greatly blurred: ‘‘What we really have now in contemporary poetry is a hybrid of two forms, narrative and lyric. . . . We now have a term like the lyricnarrative to describe the most prevalent contemporary development of these forms’’ (72). The patchwork or blurring or doubling or genres is thus early at work in Piercy’s poems as well as present in her quilted, hybrid critical prose. Moreover, the way in which Piercy turns art conventionally considered ‘‘low’’ (beads glued in a bottle cap) into the subject or seed of an art conventionally thought ‘‘high(er)’’ (poetry) is echoed or recycled in a prose style that mixes not only poetry with prose (traditionally considered low relative to poetry) but anecdote and conversation with eloquence, political oratory, and at times, extended poetic conceit. Piercy even makes the conversational form of the interview serve as several of
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE the ‘‘parti-colored blocks’’ that form her quilt of a book, with each block or interview itself a compendium of autobiography and literary theory, jokes and quotes. Diane P. Freedman. An Alchemy of Genius: Cross-Genre Writing by American Feminist Poet-Critics (Charlottesville: Univ. Pr. of Virginia, 1992), pp. 114, 117–18 Marge Piercy taps a mother as the most likely candidate for time travel in her futuristic novel, Woman on the Edge of Time. Visiting the village of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, in the twenty-second century, Connie Ramos hears a language both familiar and strange. Her future companions speak of ‘‘inknowing and outknowing,’’ of ‘‘feel[ing] with other beings . . . [of] coning, going down . . . reach[ing] nevel . . . [of] slow[ing] at will.’’ Once she discovers that inknowing and outknowing, coning and reaching nevel, are ‘‘states of consciousness,’’ however, Piercy’s time-traveler responds with some anger: ‘‘How can you teach somebody to feel? From a book you can learn the multiplication tables. But how can you teach love?’’ The new age answer: ‘‘But every mother always has. Or failed to’’ (140). Later, Connie learns that ‘‘mothers’’ are not necessarily female; indeed, the old tags—male and female— have about as much significance as height or hair color. Instead, embryos grow in a mechanical ‘‘brooder’’ and are ceremonially delivered to mothers at the end of gestation. This thematic dissociation of the female body and biological reproduction, rather than neutralizing the maternal issue, nevertheless, seems to up the theoretical ante: what does it mean, for example, that in her nongendered, utopian future, Piercy retains the ‘‘mother’’ word, that tantalizing, devastating sign? And why does Piercy choose technological birth when Connie’s present suffering has so little to do with pregnancy and so much to do with the already powerful medical and legal technologies of the twentieth century, technologies that infiltrate her most private spaces? The critical travails of contemporary feminism are nowhere more evident than in discussions of mothering. Response to Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice serves as a familiar case. While Gilligan leans toward a cultural understanding of women as caretakers and inventive sympathizers, her methodological association of mothers’ bodies and morality (among other things, she investigates women’s response to their own abortions) hints at material bedrock. This ‘‘essentialist’’ nod bodes badly for her among readers who fear the rebinding of maternal ties. In other locations, critics argue that feminist energy might be better spent in establishing woman’s human nature, not her maternal nature. . . . The reduplicative narration of Woman on the Edge of Time not only reassigns mothering duties (a move that might be read as maternal ‘‘resignation’’) but textualizes mothering differently. . . . Put differently, Piercy’s showing of technological mothering publicizes women’s historical labor and amplifies the possibilities for maternal stories. As Piercy demonstrates, the present world enforces the narrative sentence linking female to ‘‘mother.’’ Because a woman can mother, she is enrolled as one: subsequently, the scenes of her life include the physical violence of rape, coerced abortion, and unelected hysterectomy as well as the political equivalents: silence and invisibility. Elaine Orr. ‘‘Mothering as Good Fiction: Instances from Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time.’’ JNT. Spring, 1993. pp. 61–62 PINSKY BIBLIOGRAPHY Breaking Camp, 1968 (p); Going Down Fast, 1969 (n); Hard Loving, 1969 (p); Dance the Eagle to Sleep, 1970 (n); 4-Telling, 1971 (p); To Be of Use, 1973 (p); Small Changes, 1973 (n); Living in the Open, 1976 (p); Women on the Edge of Time, 1976 (n); The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing, 1978 (p); The High Cost of Living, 1978 (n); Vida, 1979 (n); (with Ira Wood) The Last White Class: A Play about Neighborhood Terror, 1980; The Moon Is Always Female, 1980 (p); Circles on the Water, 1982 (p); Braided Lives, 1982 (n); Parti-Colored Blocks for a Quilt, 1982 (interviews); Stone, Paper, Knife, 1983 (p); Fly Away Home, 1984 (n); My Mother’s Body, 1985 (p); Gone to Soldiers, 1987 (n); Available Light, 1988 (p); Summer People, 1989 (n); He, She, and It, 1991 (n); Mars and Her Children, 1992 (p); The Longings of Women, 1994 (n); City of Darkness, City of Light, 1996 (n); What Are Big Girls Made Of?, 1997 (p); Storm Tide, 1998 (n); The Art of Blessing the Day, 1999 (p); Early Grrrl: The Early Poems of Marge Piercy, 1999 PINSKY, Robert (1940–) [Robert Pinsky] stands out by virtue of his emotional rightness. Now such an attribute may be more stigmatizing in a cynical age than being called traditional. I mean by emotional rightness that balance of feeling and intelligence that is often hard-won but never agonized in its display. We live in an age, to put it mildly, that doesn’t care much for tact. Emotional rightness is nearly a synonym for tact, but it adds to tact a sense of urgency, a willingness to break rules and transgress boundaries when necessary. . . . Pinsky has increasingly become a moral poet, that rarest of modern types, not by being a scourge or a satirist, but by returning to questions and matters of right and wrong, truth and error, and seeking to prove—more in the sense of test than vindication—his feelings about such matters. This is not to say (here comes a disclaimer) that his work has none of our contemporary concerns, such as fascination with popular culture, an obsessive interest in certain mythic topics, and a penchant for psychoanalytic assumptions about human behaviour. Pinsky draws on such concerns and more, but he manages to be personal without being confessional, sophisticated without being glib, and knowledgeable without being world-weary or cutely playful. Reading Pinsky offers positive delights as well as negative ones, however. His poetic language has many of the best features of good prose, as its connections and complexities flow from a straight-forward approach to his subjects. His subjects, especially in his . . . book, History of My Heart, are chosen with an eye to both scale and variety. He can write about a visit to a concentration camp, his New Jersey childhood, Fats Waller, or an apocalyptic vision, all with deft control. As for his critical skills, his book on Walter Savage Landor might be taken as a model of how to approach a neglected, less-than-major figure and show his accomplishments and pertinence to a new generation of readers. His book on contemporary poetry [The Situation of Poetry] was the first to offer intelligent scruples about those dominant verse conventions that had become rigidified by the middle of the nineteen-seventies. . . . All in all, a decent claim could be made for Pinsky being 13
    • PINSKY the most accomplished poet-critic in America under the age of fifty. . . . I want especially to argue that Pinsky’s strength derives from his use of both irony and compassion in a way that these two attitudes, normally seen as opposites, are called into a test of one another. It is through this test that Pinsky gets at the emotional rightness that is his main focus and creates the artistic complexity that is his achievement. Taking the long view, we can say that such a test and a poet’s willingness to submit to it are not the result exclusively of either an experimental or traditional cast of mind or temperament. But it is Pinsky’s traditionalism, especially his use of multiple cultural and historical dimensions, that I think best accounts for the special quality of his work. Charles Molesworth. The Hollins Critic. December, 1984, pp. 1-18. If poets are really the unacknowledged legislators of the world, they have a lot to answer for. In America we would rather believe, with Auden, that poetry makes nothing happen. Even when we write about politics and poetry, and write out of evident anguish and conviction, we tend to create analyses of negation. Both of these books [Poetry and the World and Praises and Dispraises, Poetry and Politics, the 20th Century by Terrence Des Pres], which approach the problem of politics and poetry from opposed angles, mix deep intelligence about art and history with a pervasive resistance to ideological thinking, a desire for escape from the burdens of history into the haven of poetry. Neither focuses very much on what we usually think of when we think of political poetry—that is, poetry designed, if not to legislate, to make something happen: for instance the antiwar or ecological poetry of the American sixties and seventies. But the reason for this swerving from the troubling questions may not be self-censorship, even unconscious. In Des Pres’s case it may be the despair created by the inevitable darkness of the modern radical vision; in Pinsky’s traditionalist longings perhaps caused by the present failure of liberalism. . . . Pinsky’s book is far more miscellaneous and uneven than Praise, essentially consisting of brief reviews, memoirs, and a few extended theoretical pieces. Like his influential The Situation of Poetry, which, in the poetry wars of the sixties and seventies, attacked deep image romanticism and campaigned for discursive poetry and ‘‘reason’’ (defined in Enlightenment terms), this is a neo-Wintersian work. There is still the habitual deference to the old curmudgeon Yvor Winters, the emphasis on the morality of forms, the religious longing under the insistent rationalism. There is also an oddly a historical tendency to look to seventeenth-or eighteenthcentury poems for comparison with works of modern social commentary, and a faintly elitist or traditionalist tendency to define poetry as an activity of ‘‘the court.’’ Pinsky speaks for the fathers. But his tone in this collection is softer, more open and engaged than in his earlier book. Somehow Grandpa Dave is a more benevolent presiding spirit than Father Yvor. Most of the reviews here are a sharp pleasure to read. It is great fun to watch Pinsky being judgmental but strenuously fair to Philip Larkin while Larkin is being judgmental and atrociously unfair to practically everyone, especially blacks and Jews. And Pinsky consistently demonstrates a remarkable ability to define the movements and strategies of particular poems—especially in his Elizabeth Bishop and Marianne Moore pieces. But the most interesting 14 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE sections of the book are first the most abstract, then the most personal—the excursions into theory, then the memoirs. These occasional pieces are by no means a systematic attempt to deal with the relation of politics and poetry, but partly because they are casual and frank, they reveal much that is distressing about American approaches to the problem. Pinsky seems to live in a slightly safer world than Des Pres does, one more protected by the traditional absolutes. But his thinking about poetry’s place in that world comes to a similar end, if anything even more removed from the optimistic imagination of activism. Part of the reason for this removal is brilliantly analyzed by Pinsky’s ‘‘Responsibilities of the Poet.’’ The difficulty he delineates there convincingly explains the contemporary American problem with political poetry as an aspect of a broader problem, the necessity of transformation. ‘‘Before an artist can see a subject— foreign policy, or any other subject—the artist must transform it: answer the received cultural imagination of the subject with something utterly different.’’ So the failure of political poetry (or ‘‘poetry of witness’’—Pinsky quotes Forché’s term) is not a failure of will or conviction but of the capacity for transformation, especially for poets conditioned by a country where politics usually consists of the suppression of ideological thought. Here Pinsky makes an interesting leap: because traditional ideas of ‘‘the poetic’’ can blunt the power of poetry to comprehend the world, the real responsibility of the poet is especially to the ‘‘unpoetic,’’ for reasons of craft as well as social morality. ‘‘In the most uncompromising sense, this means that whatever important experience seems least poetic to me is likely to be my job.’’ Having come this far, Pinsky then abruptly swerves away from the political. He ends the lecture with an analysis of the transformations necessary in poems about, respectively, God and love. These are social subjects, yes, but they are also the subjects that most routinely allow escape from political concerns. Here and in later essays we keep expecting Pinsky’s clear analytic eye actually to confront contemporary poetry of engagement. Yes, all poetry is political, but what about political poetry? The closest we get, among the poems of this century, is a discussion of William Carlos William’s ‘‘To Elsie,’’ which is undeniably social commentary, but understandable more in religious terms—a fall from grace— than directly social ones. Uncharacteristically elitist for Williams, it seems full of horror at the mob, at what Pinsky calls ‘‘the terror of the darkness of American freedom.’’ Like The Waste Land it describes social collapse in terms of bad sex among the peasants. And it presents us, again, with the familiar excremental vision: ‘‘as if the earth under our feet / were / an excrement of some sky / and we degraded prisoners / destined / to hunger until we eat filth.’’ Des Pres might assent. This highly intelligent poet’s analysis of poetry in the world continues to go indicatively askew as Pinsky writes about American backgrounds, and his own. Partly the problem is excessive formalism. A discussion of the social implications of the opposition between high and low vocabularies simply goes too far, dragging down Pinsky’s own usually clear style as it goes. More important, there emerge questionable assumptions about poetry and culture, the thrust of which is usually to suggest that poetry exists in some absolute realm beyond cultural conditioning. Pinsky claims that art is by definition liberating, for instance, and that ‘‘the appetite for poetry’’ achieves the status of the other ‘‘human appetites; the desire for cuisine, beyond nutrition; for eroticism,
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE beyond sexuality.’’ Well, maybe, but this and other vaguely absolutist statements about the nature of things militate against the historical/political understanding of how cultures change. This problem emerges most clearly in the autobiographical essays that end this collection, because they are both more open and more careless than the critical theorizing. The scope of those essays makes it clear what ‘‘the world’’ finally comes down to, in Pinsky’s typically American experience. This sense of the world is conditioned by the sense of the past, the collective past, but also the memory of childhood. This world consists most strongly of family, small hometown, religion, and European roots, all lovingly rendered with a sort of glow that suggests a civics class definition of the American tradition. This close to the heart, politics is not allowed. As he makes himself vulnerable to such a description, Pinsky also shows some understanding of the limits of this conception of things. In fact this is more or less the subject of a piece about a trip to Poland during the 1981 Solidarity struggles. It’s here that Pinsky presents himself as the stereotypically American ‘‘hick,’’ who ‘‘underestimated history,’’ the innocent who amuses the Poles burdened by the shift of politics by explaining that in America antiSemitism is insignificant. They don’t believe his protestations of American innocence. Neither do I, not because of anti-Semitism, especially, but because of history, because of what is omitted from Pinsky’s essays on America and his past, which end not in a meditation about justice or injustice, but about the religion of his father. Even as Pinsky admits he exaggerated America’s ‘‘pure freedom from bloody European mania’’ he conversely demonstrates his will to believe in it, in what Forché calls ‘‘the lie of our own moral superiority.’’ Exploring the territory of our confusion about politics, he becomes an example of that confusion. This is the inevitable problem of someone writing, as Des Pres put it, ‘‘at the center of empire, a malady now widespread in American letters.’’ But the malady is compounded by the tendency to perceive empire through the reducing mirror of childhood, as a series of small towns steeped in innocence and opportunity. Pinsky’s good cheer is finally more apolitical than Des Pres’s modern gloom. Again nostalgia replaces history. Perhaps our truest political text is still Fitzgerald’s novel about the will to restore the past, and the deaths that result when a powerful and loving man falls into nostalgia for the world. So we beat on. Anthony Libby. The Kenyon Review. Spring, 1989, pp. 140–45. Two years ago Robert Pinsky published a vigorous and engaging collection of essays called Poetry and the World. Harvested from a decade’s work, it was a miscellaneous group: autobiographical sketches, meditations on the Bible and on political attitudes, reviews of recent books, a pair of public lectures on the origins of an American poetry. But underneath the variety of his subjects, Pinsky’s preoccupation throughout the book was to clarify, if not to explain, poetry’s function as ‘‘a bridge between the worldly and the spiritual.’’ By maintaining a ‘‘decorum, a limiting boundary’’ between its voluptuous surfaces and the rigor of its ideas, between the dragging anchor of memory and its flights of imagination, poetry enacts the tension that any reader feels, caught between the communal world of his living and the isolate self of his life. The poets whom Pinsky most admires draw both into their work. ‘‘The qualities of physical grace, lively social texture, and inward revelation’’ that he finds in Whitman and Williams mark the strongest PINSKY American poetry. They are, not coincidentally, qualities Pinsky strives for in his own poems, and wants us to admire there. The larger question these matters of style address is one Pinsky also touches on, though never plumbs. How does, how should, a poem situate itself in relation to American life, to the heterogeneity of a democratic society? Has poetry any place in a culture that, decade by decade, pushes it further to the side? If it does, and if our poets are to be mythographers rather than merely reporters, how are they to capture and to inspirit the terms of our shape-shifting national life, its abundance of compassion and cruelty, its exhilarating and disturbing freedoms? Pinsky looks to the style of American poems less to analyze than to praise their fluidity of idiom and tone, their rhetorical restlessness and dramatic resources, their capacity to include so many actual and imagined voices. Pinsky’s view is not unlike Tocqueville’s when he first arrived in New York. Sailing into the city by way of the East River, he was ‘‘surprised to perceive along the shore, at some distance from the city, a number of little palaces of white marble, several of which were of ancient architecture.’’ The next morning, when he went ashore to inspect them, he discovered their walls were of whitewashed brick, their columns of painted wood. Our grandest gestures seem put up overnight, improvised, makeshift, fool-the-eye. Pinsky’s relish for these gestures is apparent in several poems in his new book [The Want Bone], poems about language itself. In one, called ‘‘Window,’’ our link to the past is defined by language: ‘‘We took their language in our mouth and chewed.’’ It fed us, nourished us; and while it formed us—into the Irish or Chinese or Spanish or Yiddish of our words—we helped to remake its own ‘‘bright confusion.’’ In another poem, ‘‘The Refinery’’ (a new name for the old melting pot), the gods return to drink at that bright confusion, which the poet imagines processed in the great glittering refinery of language: The muttering gods Greedily penetrate those bright pavilions— Libation of Benzene, Naphthalene, Asphalt, Gasoline, Tar: syllables Fractioned and cracked from unarticulated Crude, the smeared keep of life that fed On itself in pitchy darkness when the gods Were new—inedible, volatile And sublimated afresh to sting Our tongues who use it, refined from oil of stone. It was Tocqueville who predicted a hybrid American poetry. On his travels around the fledgling nation he found no worthy art, but expected great things. Americans had ‘‘the freedom and the knowledge acquired by their forefathers and the passions which are their own.’’ There was, he discovered, no pioneer’s hut without its copy of Shakespeare. (Tocqueville himself first read Henry V in a log cabin.) But Americans had not yet learned—they would not learn until Whitman—how to write of their own passions. As for an eventual American style, he predicted it would be fantastic, incorrect, overburdened, and loose, almost always vehement and bold . . . with more wit than erudition, more 15
    • PINSKY imagination than profundity. The object of authors will be to astonish rather than to please, and to stir the passions more than to charm the taste. He also predicted that the subject of an American poetry would be not history (Americans have none), not nature (only a mirror that we hold up to ourselves), but the self. Americans, wrote Tocqueville, are ‘‘excited in reality only by a survey of themselves,’’ and ‘‘each man instantly sees all his fellows when he surveys himself.’’ ‘‘I have only to look at myself,’’ he said on their behalf, fifteen years before the publication of Leaves of Grass, in order to ‘‘enlarge and to throw light on some of the obscurer recesses of the human heart,’’ in order to touch what he called ‘‘the hidden nerve.’’ Each poet will have his own phrase for ‘‘the hidden nerve.’’ At the start of his career, Pinsky’s was ‘‘the dark wind.’’ In ‘‘Poems About People,’’ the very first poem in his first book, he tells us of his concern for ‘‘the dark wind crossing / The wide spaces between us.’’ If we take that wind as an early image for what he refers to, in Poetry and the World, as ‘‘the bridge between the worldly and the spiritual,’’ then it must be said that his early work lingered on the worldly side of things. Even so, I wince when, in his essays, he confesses his desire to be ‘‘interesting,’’ to please the reader of his poems. Those are worthy goals in themselves, but they so underestimate Pinsky’s own ambition—at least as it has emerged over the course of his four collections. J. D. McClatchy. The New Republic. September 24, 1990, pp. 46–8. Typical of discussions of poetry and politics, and the larger domain of history, is a sense of the necessity or decorum to maintain a division between poetry and the other two areas. The popularization of Adorno’s question—can other be poetry after Auschwitz— has further mediated the reception of contemporary poetry, if not the very moment of poesis. Equally prevalent is the argument, generous in some ways, that all poetry is political. Carolyn Forché, in her essay, ‘‘El Salvador: On the Aide Memoire,’’ writes: In those days I kept my work as a poet and journalist separate, of two distinct mentalités, but I could not keep El Salvador from my poems because it had become so much a part of my life. I was cautioned to avoid mixing art and politics, that one damages the other, and it was some time before I realized that ‘‘political poetry’’ often means the poetry of protest, accused of polemical didacticism, and not the poetry which implicitly celebrates politically acceptable values. Forché recognizes this deep-seated impulse to separate and maintain only what is acceptable or decorous as poetry, which in turn maintains the values acceptable to the society as a whole. She also points to the implicit politics of acceptable poetry. Restricting poetry to the decorous—or claiming the opposite, that all poetry is political—denies poetry any efficacy. It certainly limits the poem’s imagination by limiting the poem to the rhetoric of decorum or the period’s style. In fact, such limitations shift poetry’s prospects from the realm of authenticity to that of style. Forché’s statement points to the silencing of the poet, a censure of what the writer has noticed within experience or what the writer has experienced within the space of writing. 16 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE The poet’s work, as Adrienne Rich has often stated, is the critique and revisioning of representation [see her On Lies, Secrets, and Silences: Selected Prose 1966–1978, 1979]. The space of writing is a shared, social space, yet it does not deny the individual act of creating that space. Such an act is profoundly difficult and one that requires an ethical responsibility or responsiveness, if it is to be authentic in its space and its outward regard. To not view poetry as an ethical process, is to initiate a disturbing leveling that extinguishes the very possibility of a responsive writing. The poem is always in the realm of betweenness or dialogue, neither wholly internal nor external; its space is autonomous yet can only be existent as a shared space. By its presence, this festive or autonomous time and space is a critique of the accumulations of history that have opposed and appropriated the imagination. Wallace Stevens often articulates both the recourse to an autonomous space and a poetics of resistance. His vocabulary in the essay ‘‘The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words’’ [from The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination, 1951] is one of opposition that asks of the artist responsibility and claims that art is of necessity the imagination’s resistance to the world and its impoverishing realities: It is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of it, the sound of its words, helps us live our lives. This violence from within is not identical to ‘‘a violence without’’—the external violence, that of reality, is ‘‘without.’’ External and empty, the world shapes us if it is not confronted. Furthermore, the imagination is a collaborator, its creation is the history we are caught in. Robert Pinsky has understood both Forché’s and Stevens’ positions and offers important elaborations upon them both in his poems and essays. For Pinsky, the tension between public and private is re-visioned by the poet as necessitating transformation. He argues [in Poetry and the World] that one of the poet’s responsibilities ‘‘is to mediate between the dead and the unborn: we must feel ready to answer, as if asked by the dead if we have handed on what they gave us, or asked by the unborn what we have for them’’; furthermore, we as poets, ‘‘must answer for what we see.’’ Pinsky, I sense, implicitly rebukes the rhetorical posturing of Adorno or Auden’s oft-quoted and misconstrued phrase ‘‘poetry makes nothing happen’’ that has led to critical disclaimers about poetry which is political, social, or historical. Pinsky argues that the poet is the place of transmission and therefore transformation. Although this description of the poet’s responsibility is conservative by Pinsky’s own admission, it is moreover one of conservation—or resourcefulness, in that old sources are maintained and new ones uncovered or pointed to. Turning to the poems in his collection The Want Bone, we find that Pinsky offers a vision of the demands of the imagination when bound or pressed by power, that is, pushed to the extreme, hence a vatic imagination: For three weeks after this night vision I Daniel, he wrote, ate no pleasant Bread nor wine, my comeliness Turned to corruption, I retained No strength, my own counterance
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Changed in me. But I kept the Matter in my heart, I was mute And set my face toward the earth. And afterward I rose up And did the king’s business. Appalled initiate. Intimate of power. Scorner of golden images, governor. In the drinking places they said He had wished himself unborn, That he had no navel. So tawny Belteshazzar or Daniel With his unclean smell of lion And his night visions, Who took the thoughts of the King Into his mind O Jews, prospered In the reign of Nebuchadnezzar And of his son Belshazzar And in the reign of Darius And in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. In these concluding stanzas of ‘‘Visions of Daniel,’’ Pinsky critiques Daniel’s political cohabitation, while also understanding that it was necessary for his survival. The poem, furthermore, describes Daniel’s ability to reverse the relation of power: his knowledge gives him power the king lacks. He is both prophet and interpreter; hence he occupies a privileged position since only he could unfold the secrets of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream or the meaningless writing that appeared on Belshazzar’s walls. Moreover, Daniel is challenged to interpret—that is to see clearly what is secret—‘‘a vision / Of the world’s entire future / Couched in images.’’ Disliked by the Jews and subjected to the gossip of the pious, Daniel was no collaborator although he was an ‘‘appointed officer / Of the crown.’’ Instead, Daniel becomes an emblem of survival through the intercession of the imagination. Daniel’s survival, in fact, allows for the survival and emancipation of the Jews under Cyrus. Pinsky has selected Daniel as the emblem of the vatic poet in that this position and the story of Daniel reveal the complex relationship of power and the imagination. The imagination literally preserves Daniel’s youth while the kings age. Daniel is a subject of generations of kings, yet he is able to subject them to terror. Daniel, through his casting of images, compels Nebuchadnezzar ‘‘on all fours, driven / To eat grass like the oxen. / His body wet by the dews of heaven, / Hair matted like feathers, fingers / Hooked like the claw of the raven.’’ Pinsky does not suggest that Daniel merely interprets the king’s dreams; instead, Daniel’s casting of images transforms the king and renders him senseless. Daniel is the traditional bard, for his words become curses that are made literal or made flesh. The catalog and the fortuitous rhymes emphasized this transformation initiated by language. Daniel serves not only as the prophet of history but also as the maker of history, albeit as an intermediary: ‘‘God has weighed you and found you / Wanting, your power will be given / To the Medes and the Persians.’’ History then is seen as a series of transformations—makings and unmakings— produced by a single agency. Pinsky does not intend to critique such a proposition nor does he necessarily accept it. His interest is in the position of the individual voice who witnesses, enacts, and records such conditions. James McCorkle. The Kenyon Review. Winter, 1992, pp. 171–88. PINSKY If there is a consistent ground rule for Robert Pinsky’s poems, it is that apparent simplicity is the invitation to troubling complexity. There is an attractive movement of the mind, finding exceptions to simple rules, unexpected textures to smooth surfaces, division and ambivalence to simple feelings. The strategies are abundance, surprise, and variations on a theme. In the first poem in his first book (Sadness and Happiness), ‘‘Poem about People,’’ what begins as genial and compassionate people watching— Balding young men in work shoes And green work pants, beer belly And white T-shirt, the porky walk Back to the truck, polite; possible To feel briefly like Jesus, A gust of diffuse tenderness . . . —turns to a friend’s painful divorce and then to a movie clip that in turn leads to a burning vision of desperate personal shame: . . . the sensitive Young Jewish soldier nearly drowns Trying to rescue the thrashing Anti-semitic bully, swimming across The river raked by nazi fire, The awful part is the part truth: Hate my whole kind, but me, Love me for myself. It is not a predictable sequence. The most ambitious poems in the book are meditative sequences that are in the form of theme and variations: ‘‘Tennis,’’ the title poem ‘‘Sadness and Happiness,’’ and ‘‘Essay on Psychiatrists.’’ The latter includes comic social scenes, satire, a discussion of Pentheus and Dionysus as psychiatrists, and Yvor Winters’s defense of madness in poets, and it concludes that we are all psychiatrists fumbling our way among stars. It is a poem designed to make psychiatrists uneasy, being itself uneasy about their claims to power over the secret life. Psychiatrists might say, predictably, that jealousy for their mastery of the sexual secret underlies the poem. An Explanation of America is just that. Its classical antecedent is not Juvenal-Johnson-Lowell’s ‘‘Vanity of Human Wishes’’ but rather Horace’s Epistle I, xvi, from his Sabine farm, which Pinsky translates as part of his text. It is philosophical discourse, not satire. The poem is addressed to his oldest daughter, much of it quite genuinely—the mode of address is not merely a trope in some of the poem’s very challenging passages. The daughter is often a real presence in the poem and appears to be too iconoclastic, intelligent, and searching to be satisfied with easy answers. She is a critic of ‘‘that tyrant and sycophantic lout, the Majority’’ and . . . Political Science bores you, You prefer the truth, and with a Jesuit firmness Return to your slogan: ‘‘Voting is not fair.’’ A sense of the poem’s complexity and uneasiness of feeling is implicit in this list: I want for you to see the things I see And more, Colonial Diners, Disney, films Of concentration camps, the napalmed child Trotting through famous news film in her diaper 17
    • PINSKY And tattered flaps of skin, Deep Throat, the rest. This is not an America free of cruelty, and with the last entry the monologue to the daughter is not easy about domesticated sexuality. The explanation is not tidy or even terribly analytic. It is impressionistic, rather, and concludes with a sense of America as dreamlike, ‘‘So large, and strangely broken, and unforeseen.’’ Pinsky’s commitment to discursive poetry is seen in his next book, History of My Heart, where he adopts his method defiantly, in the face of the dominant approach to his subject, which is the shaping of his feelings. Instead of confession or epiphanies of the atomistic ego or intimations of moral instructions that thwart childhood narcissism, Pinsky offers explanation that is complex, ironic, and allusive. In the title poem of this volume history becomes family mythmaking in his mother’s fantasy, drawn from a movie, of meeting Fats Waller, the way language creates experience in an account of a first sexual tryst (‘‘To see eyes melting so I could think This is it,/They’re melting!’’), and in a cluster of images we are presented with the overarching erotic reverie that Makes the one who feels seem beautiful to the beholder Witnessing the idea of the giving of desire—nothing more wanted Than the little singing notes of wanting—the heart Yearning further into giving itself into the air, breath Strained into song emptying the golden bell it comes from, The pure source poured altogether out and away. It should be clear that the explanatory and discursive mode has not eliminated lyricism. It has in fact restored to the lyric the modes of discourse that have been rare in this century. The strategy is continued in the remainder of the book. In ‘‘The Unseen,’’ set in a tour of a concentration camp, Pinsky addresses the absent God: O discredited Lord of Hosts, your servant gapes Obediently to swallow various doings of us, the most Capable of all your former creatures—we have no shape, We are poured out like water, but still We try to take in what won’t be turned from in despair. This is not cold exposition but instead intelligent discourse about the heart’s history in history. In his poem ‘‘The Cold’’ he retrieves that exhausted, fashionable word and moves the philosophical cold outdoors, as weather, where it belongs: Or like me, working in a room alone, Watching out from a window . . . . . . not having been out in hours I come up close idly to feel the cold, Forgetting for a minute what I was doing. The Want Bone is not a phallic image but an oral one, the dried mouth bones of a shark, an emblem of its desire to live. It is death longing for life and love, food, and family. Pastiche and assemblage have joined the technique of variations on a theme in this book with a deliberate derangement of Pinsky’s apparent subjects and greater tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces in the poems. We find an explicit celebration and savoring of the richness of words, their anarchic history. There is more play with language in this book than in the previous ones, and Pinsky has adapted Apocryphal stories of Jesus’ childhood and embroidered the story of the prophet Daniel. In a prose section Jesus in the form 18 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE of a ciclogriff befriends Isolde to learn about love. The violent Tristan is a bard, and therefore Jesus himself cannot save either him or Isolde, who is boundlessly committed to him. Although we see it coming, the charm is in the telling. This is a book of a middle-aged poet determined to expand his art. He maintains from his earliest days a sense of the well-shaped line, stanza, and poem. Pinsky strays far from the iambic, but never entirely out of range. His rhymes, typically off-rhymes, are inventive and formal without being insistent. He is one of the most sophisticated technicians of his generation and may well prove one of its finest poets. The new poems in The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems extend this mastery and include works that may well become American classics, particularly a poem central to a sequence about cities, ‘‘Avenue,’’ and an elegy for Elliot Gilbert, called ‘‘Impossible to Tell,’’ built around two jokes. This is new and daring for an elegy, and I like to imagine the author of ‘‘Lycidas’’ being thrilled by its rightness. The new poems in the volume are not a random assortment, however. In a note on ‘‘Avenue,’’ in reference to the explanation of Yom Kippur as the day of ‘‘at-one-ment,’’ Pinsky says, ‘‘All, one: a play of unity and diversity that in turn makes me think of the fragmented, plural American city, held together visibly by words, by the signs and spoken or sung syllables of its streets, where all our ‘they’ is somehow ‘one.’’’ This motif is woven through the new poems in the volume, many of them dealing with the city as the figure for the multiplicity and ‘‘numerousness’’ of the soul. The interwoven web of humanity in which the matrix of Charlie Parker, Pushkin, Sax (the inventor), and the sax-playing Pinsky unites in the ‘‘Ginza Samba.’’ Pinsky’s vision (and it is right to speak of that) has a lot of the philosophical playfulness of Borges mixed with the air of historical menace of Milosz. Pinsky includes a poem composed for a Halloween celebration, ‘‘The Rhyme of Reb Nachman,’’ among his selection of translations, and a poem by Milosz, ‘‘Incantation,’’ among his own poems. Milosz rejected the translation on the grounds that it is an English poem in its own right and not sufficiently subordinated to the Polish. It is an odd situation indeed, and yet it is entirely appropriate to the overlapping boundaries that Pinsky’s new work celebrates. Pinsky’s translation of Dantes Inferno is the most idiomatic and vigorous adaptation of terza rima in English. His strategy of using consonantal rhyme in place of exact rhyme has enabled him to avoid much of the artificiality of earlier translations and to approximate Dante’s famous compression—so much so, in fact, that Dante’s tercets seldom last three lines in Pinsky’s English and the direct link in Italian between syntax and stanza structure is abandoned. Almost all of Pinsky’s tercets are enjambed, unlike the original. Someone looking for connections between Pinsky and his graduate school mentor, the important and charismatic critic-poet Yvor Winters, would strain to find them. Pinsky is a poet-critic, and the priority of poetry is important. Early in his career he lost Winters’s tone of fastidious, moralistic criticism that did not suffer opposition gladly, and he has restored William Carlos Williams to the Winters canon and expanded it to include all sorts of decadent New Yorkers. While there is a vivid, heroic portrait of Winters in the long poem ‘‘Essay on Psychiatrists’’ from Sadness and Happiness, what survives of that influence in Pinsky’s poetry is a struggle with traditional forms and a diction that favors aestheticized
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE philosophical cold and certitude in only a few early poems. Pinsky’s criticism likewise has grown free of Winters’s influence. It is urbane, international, and lacks the odor of orthodoxy. Barry Goldensohn. Contemporary Poets, 6th edition, ed. Thomas Riggs (St. James Press, 1996). PLATH recedes in hypnotic waves of semi-consciousness. Each of these poems stands recognizable as an act of courage, as a cleanly-struck blow against a superior adversary. But the nature of the conflict is never clearly defined nor the wounded areas properly probed. The ambulance bells are still ringing. Alan Ross. London Magazine. May, 1965. pp. 99, 101 BIBLIOGRAPHY Landor’s Poetry, 1968 (c); Sadness and Happiness, 1975 (p); The Situation of Poetry: Contemporary Poetry and Its Traditions, 1977 (c); An Explanation of America, 1979 (p); History of My Heart, 1984 (p); Mindwheel, 1985 (n); Poetry and the World, 1988 (c); The Want Bone, 1990 (p); The Figured Wheel, 1996 (p); The Sounds of Poetry, 1998 (n) PLATH, Sylvia (1932–1963) Sylvia Plath [in The Colossus] writes clever, vivacious poetry, which will be enjoyed most by intelligent people capable of having fun with poetry and not just being holy about it. Miss Plath writes from phrase to phrase as well as with an eye on the larger architecture of the poem; each line, each sentence, is put together with a good deal of care for the springy rhythm, the arresting image and—most of all, perhaps—the unusual word. This policy ought to produce quaint, over-gnarled writing, but in fact Miss Plath has a firm enough touch to keep clear of these faults. Here and there one finds traces of ‘‘influences’’ not yet completely assimilated (‘‘Snakecharmer,’’ for instance, is too like Wallace Stevens for comfort, and the sequence ‘‘Poem for a Birthday’’ testifies too flatly to an admiration for Theodore Roethke), but after all, this is a first book, and the surprising thing is how successful Miss Plath has already been in finding an individual manner. John Wain. Spectator. Jan. 13, 1961. p. 50 These last poems of Sylvia Plath’s [Ariel], once read, hang around one like the smell of morphia, impregnating everything. As the expression, or rather unmodified articulation, of raw pain, with its precommittal intensification of vision and its heightened sharpedged clarity, they are unique in contemporary poetry. There is little regret or bitterness in them, certainly there is no hope. They are of the moment, looking neither back nor forward, last-gasp cries that long since lost any note of tenderness, or even ironic, selfdirected amusement. They are poems for the most part beyond art, as they are also beyond consolation or compassion. Their tone and manner are almost brusquely objective, gestures of vivid dismissal made by someone immune from rescue and without either the mood or the time to modulate or conciliate. Acceptance of conventional, meaningful reality is token, the references to continuing, ordinary life scant. . . . This is not the sort of book discussable, at this stage anyway, in normal critical terms. It belongs, ironically, to life rather than to literature, its nerve-ends still squirming. In any poetry of such swerving trajectories and imbalance it is easy to lose track: the horrors flap off the walls like vultures, awareness breaks and Are these final poems [Ariel] entirely legitimate? In what sense does anyone, himself uninvolved and long after the event, commit a subtle larceny when he invokes the echoes and trappings of Auschwitz and appropriates an enormity of ready emotion to his own private design? Was there latent in Sylvia Plath’s sensibility, as in that of many of us who remember only by fiat of imagination, a fearful envy, a dim resentment at not having been there, of having missed the rendezvous with hell? In ‘‘Lady Lazarus’’ and ‘‘Daddy’’ the realization seems to me so complete, the sheer fineness and control so great, that only irresistible need could have brought it off. These poems take tremendous risks, extending Sylvia Plath’s essentially austere manner to the very limit. They are a bitter triumph, proof of the capacity of poetry to give to reality the greater permanence of the imagined. She could not return from them. Already there are poets writing like Sylvia Plath. Certain of her angular mannerisms, her elisions and monotonies of deepening rhyme, can be caught and will undoubtedly have their fashion. But minor poets even of a great intensity—and that is what she was— tend to prove bad models. Sylvia Plath’s tricks of voice can be imitated. Not her desperate integrity. George Steiner. The Reporter. Oct. 7, 1965. p. 54 In these poems [in Ariel], written in the last months of her life and often rushed out at the rate of two or three a day, Sylvia Plath becomes herself, something imaginary, newly, wildly and subtly created—hardly a person at all, or a woman, certainly not another ‘‘poetess,’’ but one of those super-real, hypnotic, great classical heroines. This character is feminine, rather than female, though almost everything we customarily think of as feminine is turned on its head. The voice is now coolly amused, witty, now sour, now fanciful, girlish, charming, now sinking to the strident rasp of the vampire—a Dido, Phaedra, or Medea, who can laugh at herself as ‘‘cow-heavy and floral in my Victorian nightgown.’’ Though lines get repeated, and sometimes the plot is lost, language never dies in her mouth. Everything in these poems is personal, confessional, felt, but the manner of feeling is controlled hallucination, the autobiography of a fever. Robert Lowell. Foreword to Ariel by Sylvia Plath (Harper). 1966. p. vii Often, very often, Sylvia and I would talk at length about our first suicides; at length, in detail and in depth. . . . Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem. Sylvia and I often talked opposites. We talked death with burned-up intensity, both of us drawn to it like moths to an electric light bulb. Sucking on it! She told of her first suicide in sweet and loving detail and her description in The Bell 19
    • PLATH Jar is just the same story. It is a wonder that we didn’t depress George [Starbuck] with our egocentricity. Instead, I think, we three were stimulated by it, even George, as if death made each of us a little more real at the moment. Thus we went on, in our fashion, ignoring Lowell and the poems left behind. Poems left behind were technique—lasting but, actually, over. We talked death and this was life for us, or better, because of us, our intent eyes, our fingers clutching the glass, three pairs of eyes fixed on someone’s—each one’s gossip. [1966] Anne Sexton in The Art of Sylvia Plath, ed. Charles Newman (Indiana). 1970. p. 175 In [Sylvia Plath], as with perhaps few poets ever, the nature, the poetic genius and the active self, were the same. Maybe we don’t need psychological explanations to understand what a difficult and peculiar destiny that means. She had none of the usual guards and remote controls to protect herself from her own reality. She lived right in it, especially during the last two years of her life. Perhaps that is one of the privileges, or prices, of being a woman and at the same time an initiate into the poetic order of events. Though the brains, the strength, the abundance and vivacity of spirits, the artistic virtuosity, the thousand incidental gifts that can turn it into such poetry as hers are another matter. [1966] Ted Hughes in The Art of Sylvia Plath, ed. Charles Newman (Indiana). 1970. pp. 187–8 If Sylvia Plath’s performance [in Ariel] were not so securely knowledgeable, so cannily devised, so richly inventive and so meticulously reined, it would be intolerable. Many of these poems are magnificent; a whole book of them is top-heavy, teetering on that point where the self-created figure threatens to topple over into self-expression and the diversions of psychopathology. Reaching for a poet with whom to compare her, or in whose sphere of influence to ‘‘place’’ her—and only the illustrious will do—one hesitates before Blake (too ‘‘big,’’ too masculine, too mythopoeic), before Baudelaire (too much the poseur, too raffiné, perhaps too comfortable in his rancor), and stops at Emily Dickinson. But anguish in Emily Dickinson is a consequence; it partakes of a classical notion of anguish: the great heart victimized by its own humanity. In Sylvia Plath, by contrast, anguish is not a consequence but the whole relentless subject itself. . . . Anything pursued far enough is likely to turn into its opposite: a shriek maintained for eighty-five pages becomes, to say the least, a bore. Nevertheless, what we have here is not, as some bewildered critics have claimed, the death rattle of a sick girl, but the defiantly fulfilling measures of a poet. Taken in small—one is almost forced to say, medicinal—doses, she is a marvel. John Malcolm Brinnin. Partisan Review. Winter, 1967. pp. 156–7 The poetry of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel is a poetry of surrender, surrender to an imagination that destroys life instead of enhancing it. Nowhere in our literature has a finely wrought art proven so subversive as hers, so utterly at odds with those designs, those structures within which we customarily enclose ourselves to hold 20 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE experience off at a distance. Emerging from encounter with her poems, as from the murky, subterranean depths of a well, one feels not so much emotionally raped as simply breathless with weariness and confusion. It is as though we had been flung into hideous contact with another order of being, suffocated by a presence too driven and hungry to be supported by the thinness of the air we breathe, a presence thrashing about, taking no notice of us, poor mortal creatures, a presence, finally, reaching, touching, shrieking on a scale that dwarfs into insignificance the familiar scale of our activities. It is with caution and humility that we must approach her art, for it is vaporous with potions that do not intoxicate, but depress and confound. If we listen humbly, there are insistent voices trembling beneath the surface of the poetry, voices which beckon to us, suggesting that we lift our heads from the page and answer the poet in kind, assenting to manipulation by that imagination which has taken everything around it for its own, wringing experience to satisfy its hungers. Robert Boyers. Centennial Review. Spring, 1969. p. 138 Passions of hate and horror prevail in the poetry of Sylvia Plath, running strongly counter to the affirmative and life-enhancing quality of most great English poetry, even in this century. We cannot reconcile her despairing and painful protest with the usual ideological demands of Christian, Marxist, and humanist writers, whether nobly or sympathetically eloquent, like Wordsworth, breezily simplified, like Dylan Thomas, or cunning in ethical and psychological argument, like W.H. Auden or F.R. Leavis. Her poetry rejects instead of accepting, despairs instead of glorying, turns its face with steady consistency towards death, not life. But hating and horrified passions are rooted in love, are rational as well as irrational, lucid as well as bewildered, so humane and honourable that they are constantly enlarged and expanded. We are never enclosed in a private sickness here, and if derangement is a feature of the poetry, it works to enlarge and generalize, not to create an enclosure. Moreover, its enlargement works through passionate reasoning, argument and wit. Its judgement is equal to its genius. Barbara Hardy in The Survival of Poetry, ed. Martin Dodsworth (Faber). 1970. p. 164 Little enough has been said of Sylvia Plath—but perhaps Robert Lowell’s description of her poetry as ‘‘controlled hallucination’’ (in the introduction to Ariel, 1966) is worth volumes. Hers is a sensibility disturbed, which sees reflected in the exterior world the very tensions, conflicts, and fears that haunt the inner spirit. Her power as a poet derives from her capacity to express this state of mind through the evocation of profound horror. The sense of horror springs from many sources: from her habit of dredging up historical atrocities, from the violent intensity of her expression, from the accuracy and hardness of her language, and most significantly, from the nature of her perception. Always she is aware of the doubleness of things, the shark beneath the surface, the tumult beneath the calm, the glitter beneath the veil. The gaze which she turns outward upon the world is schizophrenic; of the things she perceives, her mind asserts, with the speaker in ‘‘Death & Co., ’’ ‘‘Two, of course there are two.’’
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE This perception leads first to fear and eventually to despair, for it forces upon one the recognition that the world is disjointed, that things are not what they seem. Among Sylvia Plath’s works run two rather different ways of expressing poetically the theme of doubleness. One method—the more obvious of the two—proceeds by revealing horror amid an atmosphere of apparent security. This is a somewhat traditional device, certainly not unique with Miss Plath, although in her hands it is capable of vivid effects. A second and somewhat more subtle method illustrates the validity of Lowell’s comment: doubleness is conveyed by a sort of hallucinatory vision, a way of seeing simultaneously, the opposing qualities of a thing. Lynda B. Salamon. Spirit. Summer, 1970. p. 34 PLATH ancestors on both sides. They were given and she accepted them as a burden not as a gift; but there they were, somehow cutting her off from what they weren’t. . . . For all the drama of her biography, there is a peculiar remoteness about Sylvia Plath. A destiny of such violent self-destruction does not always bring the real person nearer; it tends, rather, to freeze our assumptions and responses. She is spoken of as a ‘‘legend’’ or a ‘‘myth’’—but what does that mean? Sylvia Plath was a luminous talent, self-destroyed at the age of thirty, likely to remain, it seems, one of the most interesting poets in American literature. As an event she stands with Hart Crane, Scott Fitzgerald, and Poe rather than with Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, or Elizabeth Bishop. Elizabeth Hardwick. New York Review of Books. Aug. 12, 1971. p. 3 Sylvia Plath’s only novel, the autobiographical The Bell Jar, is a deceptively modest, uncommonly fine piece of work. First published in England under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas . . . the book is more than a posthumous footnote to her career as a poet. . . . The novel is in its own right a considerable achievement. It is written to a small scale, but flawlessly—an artistically uncompromising, witty account of the experiences, inner and outer, that led to Miss Plath’s earlier breakdown and recovery. The book is humorous and dramatic, the prose for the most part lean but sometimes, suddenly, full of a transforming imagery. . . . Miss Plath doesn’t claim to ‘‘speak for’’ any time or anyone— and yet she does, because she speaks so accurately. . . . The novel has a sharp and memorable poignancy. With her classical restraint and purity of form, Sylvia Plath is always refusing to break your heart, though in the end she breaks it anyway. Lucy Rosenthal. Saturday Review. April 24, 1971. p. 42 In some strange way, I suspect [Plath] thought of herself as a realist: the deaths and resurrections of ‘‘Lady Lazarus,’’ the nightmares of ‘‘Daddy’’ and the rest had all been proved on her pulses. That she brought to them an extraordinary inner wealth of imagery and associations was almost beside the point, however essential it is for the poetry itself. Because she felt she was simply describing the facts as they had happened, she was able to tap in the coolest possible way all her large reserves of skill: those subtle rhymes and half-rhymes, the flexible, echoing rhythms and offhand colloquialism by which she preserved, even in her most anguishing probing, complete artistic control. Her internal horrors were as factual and precisely sensed as the barely controllable stallion on which she was learning to ride or the car she had tried to smash up. So she spoke of suicide with a wry detachment, and without any mention of the suffering or the drama of the act. A. Alvarez. The Savage God (Random). 1972. p. 20 The novel itself [The Bell Jar] is no firebrand. It’s a slight, charming, sometimes funny and mildly witty, at moments tolerably harrowing ‘‘first’’ novel, just the sort of clever book a Smith summa cum laude (which she was) might have written if she weren’t given to literary airs. From the beginning our expectations of scandal and startling revelation are disappointed by a modesty of scale and ambition and a jaunty temperateness of tone. The voice is straight out of the 1950’s: politely disenchanted, wholesome, yes, wholesome, but never cloying, immediately attractive, nicely confused by it all, incorrigibly truthful; in short, the kind of kid we liked then, the best product of our best schools. The hand of Salinger lay heavy on her. But this is 1971 and we read her analyst, too wily to be deceived by that decent, smiling, well-scrubbed coed who so wants to be liked and admired. We look for the slips and wait for the voice to crack. We want the bad, the worst news; that’s what we’re here for, to be made happy by horror, not to be amused by girlish chatter. Our interests are clinical and prurient. A hard case, she confounds us. She never raises her voice. Saul Maloff. New Republic. May 8, 1971. p. 34 I feel in [Sylvia Plath] a special lack of national and local roots, feel it particularly in her poetry, and this I would trace to her foreign ‘‘Such a dark funnel, my father,’’ Sylvia Plath cries out in her ‘‘Little Fugue.’’ And Otto Plath is a funnel indeed, leading her psyche from the openness of youth down toward the small dark point of death. . . . To date no one has traced the trajectory of her father’s memory in the body of Plath’s work. We suggest that a pattern of guilt over imagined incest informs all of Plath’s prose and poetry. When Otto Plath dies of natural causes in a hospital on November 2, 1940, he might just as well have been a lover jilting his beloved. Indeed, in all her poems Plath makes of this separation a deliberate desertion. In poem after poem the father drowns himself. This is the central myth of Plath’s imagination. Critics have called hers a poetry of annihilation, poetry in which her own suicidal impulses are set against the larger framework of a world which deliberately destroys—the Nazi genocide of the Jews, the Kamikazes, Hiroshima. Even a train is said to eat its track. A favorite Plath image is that of the hook: from the bend in a road, to the corner of her son’s smile—both traps for the unsuspecting. Plath’s is a terrible, unforgiving nature; in feeling victimized by her father’s early death, and later by an unsatisfactory compensatory marriage, she makes no distinction between her tragedy and those of Auschwitz or Nagasaki. [1972] Robert Philips. The Confessional Poets (Southern Illinois). 1973. p. 128 21
    • PLATH Given the fact that in a few poems Sylvia Plath illustrates an extreme state of existence, one at the very boundary of nonexistence, what illumination—moral, psychological, social—can be provided of either this state or the general human condition by a writer so deeply rooted in the extremity of her plight? Suicide is an eternal possibility of our life and therefore always interesting; but what is the relation between a sensibility so deeply captive to the idea of suicide and the claims and possibilities of human existence in general? That her story is intensely moving, that her talent was notable, that her final breakthrough arouses admiration—of course! Yet in none of the essays devoted to praising Sylvia Plath have I found a coherent statement as to the nature, let alone the value, of her vision. Perhaps it is assumed that to enter the state of mind in which she found herself at the end of her life is its own ground for high valuation; but what will her admirers say to those who reply that precisely this assumption is what needs to be questioned? Irving Howe. Harper’s Magazine. Jan., 1972. p. 91 Winter Trees is the slimmest as well as the last of Sylvia Plath’s collections; there are nineteen poems here on forty printed pages. But there is ample further evidence of her endless imaginative resource in the restatement of her familiar themes; all proceeding, ultimately, from the ‘‘divided self,’’ the self which is alienated, oppressed, disembodied, dissolved. We meet again the familiar images, particularly the (characteristically schizoid) image of the mirror, which appears in all but two of these poems and seems to haunt them with its inevitability and its destructiveness. . . . We are dazed again by the complicated use of colours, almost as a symbolism, to signify states of mind, attitudes; the alienating absolutes of black and white, the terrifying violence red almost always means, the uncertainty of blue, which can signify the cold night-blue of the moon (‘‘What blue, moony ray ices their dreams?’’), blue angels—‘‘the cold angels, the abstractions,’’ or the sky-blue of a child’s eyes; and the occasional consolation of the organic colours, brown and green. Damian Grant. The Critical Quarterly. Spring, 1972. pp. 92–3 The poems we write are the only poems we can. We pretend they are choices when, in fact, they may be so only in the obverse sense: that we are the chosen. Many times we may not even be free to leave them unwritten. This is especially true in a poet as obsessive and emblematic as Sylvia Plath, whose most noteworthy book was produced in something equivalent to Keats’ ‘‘great year’’ which preceded, like his, a premature death. Now, ten years later, surely enough time has passed that we can dispense with the ‘‘Plath myth,’’ an obscuring glitter around Ariel and The Bell Jar which wraps them in biographical data. After all, the novel is little more than a psychologically meager but socially accurate portrait of the 1950’s. Plath’s last poems, however, project a mythic world which is not ‘‘confessional’’ in an autobiographical but a sacramental sense. What they achieve, finally, is even beyond their treatment of the persona as ‘‘woman’’—a combination saint and witch in Ariel’s speaker—a new dimension for the contemporary lyric in which tragedy is again possible because seen from a perspective both comic and magic. Peter Cooley. Hollins Critic. Feb., 1973. pp. 1–2 22 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Tragedy is not a woman, however gifted, dragging her shadow around in a circle or analyzing with dazzling scrupulosity the stale, boring inertia of the circle; tragedy is cultural, mysteriously enlarging the individual so that what he has experienced is both what we have experienced and what we need not experience—because of his, or her, private agony. It is proper to say that Sylvia Plath represents for us a tragic figure involved in a tragic action, and that her tragedy is offered to us as a near-perfect work of art in her books The Colossus (1960), The Bell Jar (1963), Ariel (1965), and the posthumous volumes published in 1971, Crossing the Water and Winter Trees. This essay is an attempt to analyze Miss Plath in terms of her cultural significance, to diagnose through her poetry the pathological aspects of our era which make a death of the spirit inevitable—for that era and for all who believe in its assumptions. It is also based upon the certainty that Miss Plath’s era is concluded and that we may consider it with the sympathetic detachment with which we consider any era that has gone before us and makes our own possible: the cult of Sylvia Plath insists that she is a saintly martyr, but of course she is something less dramatic than that, though more valuable. The ‘‘I’’ of the poems is an artful construction, a tragic figure whose tragedy is classical, the result of a limited vision that believed itself the mirror held up to nature—as in the poem ‘‘Mirror,’’ the eye of a little god that imagines itself without preconceptions, ‘‘unmisted by love or dislike.’’ This is the audacious hubris of tragedy, the inevitable reality-challenging statement of the participant in a dramatic action which he does not know is ‘‘tragic.’’ He dies, and only we can see the purpose of his death— to illustrate the error of a personality that believed itself godlike. Joyce Carol Oates. Southern Review. Summer, 1973. pp. 501–2 For Plath, poetry had always been symbolic action. In The Colossus, she had used language to impose an order upon experience, but the order in her poems contradicted her vision of reality as fragmented and perpetually disintegrating. Only in a poem could the world be composed and controlled, and so poetry was artificial; it lied. In the later poetry, she begins to tell the truth. When she comes to see that reality resides in her own mind, words and poems become as real as anything else. The expression of her vision in words unleashes reality, for her poems describe what is real: her own consciousness. The action that is poetry is recognized as symbolic action (she never ceases to know the difference between art and life), but the symbols now reflect rather than counteract her own life. . . . There remains a gap between woman and poet. As poet, Plath sees with increasing clarity this gap. She sees as well the existence of life and its inevitable corruption into death. The forces in her that gave rise to her awareness of and fascination with death are surely complex; but surely the fact that she existed for so long with a sense of her own self as disparate, bifurcated, contributed to a desire for wholeness that she could equate only with death. The pulse of life was the movement towards disintegration: the stasis of death brought integration. And perfection. For Plath had viewed perfection as a solution to her problem, a perfection that she had been led to believe was achievable through talent and sheer willpower. She needed to be good at everything because in that way she could be everything: woman and poet.
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Although this program proved impossible, she was left with a belief in, and a desire to achieve, perfection. There was perfection in death. Suzanne Juhasz. Naked and Fiery Forms: Modern American Poetry by Women—A New Tradition (Octagon Books, 1976), pp. 102–3 If her poetry is understood as constituting a system of symbols that expresses a unified mythic vision, her images may be seen to be emblems of that myth. Red, white and black, for example, the characteristic colors in her late poetry, function as mythic emblems of her state of being much as they do in the mythologies which she drew upon. A great many other particulars of her poetry are similarly determined by her system, and personal and historical details as well are subordinate to it. While a confessional poet might alter certain details to make them more fitting. . . Plath’s alteration of details has a deeper significance. Her protagonist in ‘‘Daddy’’ says, ‘‘I was ten when they buried you,’’ but Plath was only eight when her father died. A magical ‘‘one year in every ten’’ cycle, however, conveys the mythic inevitability necessary to define her state of being. It is precisely such details of confessional literalness that Plath most frequently alters or eliminates, when they are not sufficiently mythic. . . . Without [the awareness of a mythic dimension in Plath’s poetry], the elements of suffering, violence, death, and decay will generally be seen as aspects of a self-indulgent stance that is merely—albeit brilliantly—nasty, morbid, and decadent, the extremist exhibitionism. Were she a ‘‘confessional’’ poet, this might be the case. But her poetry is of a different order, and these details are absorbed into a broader system of concerns. To see the autobiographical details only as such is to regard Plath’s vision of suffering and death as morbid, but to appreciate the deeper significance of her poetry is to understand her fascination with death as connected with and transformed into a broader concern with the themes of rebirth and transcendence. To deal with the structure of Plath’s poetry is primarily to deal with the voices, landscape, characters, images, emblems, and motifs which articulate a mythic drama having something of the eternal necessity of Greek tragedy. The myth has its basis in her biography, but it in turn exercises a selective function on her biography and determines within it an increasingly restricted context of relevance as her work becomes more symbolic and archetypal. . . . Had Plath survived, it seems likely, given the nature of her concerns at the end of her life, that she would have further developed and further explored the overtly religious themes of some of the last poems, coming more and more to realize her power of what Ted Hughes calls her ‘‘free and controlled access to depths formerly reserved to the primitive ecstatic priests, shamans and Holy men. . .’’ and, as in the case of her mythology, evolving a sensibility shaped by several traditions, but with a voice unmistakably her own. The unflinchingness of her gaze, her refusal to compromise the truth, her precision, her intelligence, and her passion—all of these would have qualified her uniquely in the discovery of her wholeness, to convince us that the achievement is possible. Judith Kroll. Chapters in a Mythology: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath (Harper & Row, 1976), pp. 4–6, 210–211 PLATH Romantic in its immediacy, her sharpened poetic was not quite typical of the sixties, and precisely to the extent that it was Poundian. Poundian in the first place as to eye. Her work unfolds perhaps for the first time the full dramatic potential of what T.E. Hulme called ‘‘the new visual art,’’ an art depending ‘‘for its effect not on a kind of half sleep produced by meter, but on arresting the attention, so much so that the succession of visual images should exhaust one.’’ (This rapid piling up of ‘‘distinct images’’ produces ‘‘the poet’s state in the reader.’’ Now, despite the avowed classicism of Hulme and Pound, Imagism was actually a centaur poetic of which the basic and stronger half was romantic sensation. To induce the poet’s state in the reader when that state is visual ecstasy, a state in which the magic breath of metaphor ripples the dull surface of life, is to write romantically.) But though the new visual art set itself off from leisured traditional description by rapid-fire figuration, it was notorious for being static, limitedly pictorial. The instant fixing of a single impression, as by a jeweled pin, was its convention. Still, there was nothing to prevent its being thickcoming and developmental; it could be galvanized. Or so Plath, more than any other, was to prove. She made images burst forth and succeed one another under acute psychological pressure, the dramatic crisis of the poem a generating furor. In violent import, color, solidity, and velocity her images are unsurpassed. Even when her spirit ebbs, her imagery ferments. In ‘‘Words,’’ for instance, one metaphor instantly gives rise to two others, which are then elaborated in quick succession, each giving way and coming in again, but without any effect of haste. Proliferation has perhaps never been more subtle and vigorous, more constantly deepening. But the most ‘‘delicate and difficult’’ part of the new art, so Hulme implies, is ‘‘fitting the rhythm’’ to the image—fitting all the sound, I might amend. And Plath’s ear is no less gifted than her imaginative eye. For instance, she rivals Pound’s hearkening ear for the calling back and forth and expressive rightness of sounds. . . . With Pound, Plath also shared the decidedly modern ear for what she called the ‘‘straight out’’ rhythms and words of prose and colloquial speech; like Pound, if less ambitiously and more evenly, she assimilated them into poetry, creating new verse rhythms. . . . Plath’s poetic, then, is Poundian—romantic. True, classical simplicity shows up in passages, and classical grace and proportion sometimes govern whole poems. Then, too, her persistent use of stanzas reflects the same orderly habit of mind that made her list each morning what she wanted to accomplish during the day. Undeniably, moreover, certain associations of the word ‘‘romantic’’ shrivel when held up to her flame. The shriek of her ego, the sound of a tense holding on to little, drove off every softness. She maximized horror as if she lived on menace. All the same, her poetic is full of romantic presence. No retreat, no passivity, can harbor in it; it is the aggressive poetic of one buried alive but not ready to die. (Even in expressing revulsion from reality she reached obsessively and inconsistently for visual analogy, a language of rapport.) What is her struggle against fear, pain, isolation, if not romantic? Perhaps we would deny her reasons for writing at all to think of it as anything else or anything less. Calvin Bedient. In Sylvia Plath: New Views on the Poetry, ed. Gary Lane (Johns Hopkins Univ. Pr., 1979), pp. 15–18 Plath’s moving universe is animated at times by love but more often by the forces that dominated her emotional life, primarily 23
    • PLATH rage and fear. Her importance as a poet depends upon how successfully she evolves strategies with language to make effective metaphors for the terrific experience of those murderous forces. She is fascinating because the ‘‘shape’’ of her psyche is peculiarly bottomless, a world of infinite plunge. . . . This is perhaps the darkest form of romanticism—a form darker than Roethke’s—the evocation of a series of horrors, each more horrible than the last, and of which no man knows the end. Plath’s great and underlying terror is always the nausea of movement itself. Even Plath’s pleasures crowd in on her this way, threaten to become too much if she cannot somehow bring them under control, slow their onslaught. It is true, as some have suggested, that the poems may be read as attempts to create a mythical self capable of withstanding the changes in her life, the betrayals and the losses. But it’s the kinesthetic sense of pitch and roll, the stomach-tilting sensation of that bottomless series of plunges, that we experience most strongly. And the evocation of that sense is her particular genius. . . . Plath uses many devices, not all of them subtle, to achieve the artistic effect of a world in violent motion. For one thing, many of the late poems make use of the motif of journeying: ‘‘Blackberrying,’’ ‘‘On Deck,’’ ‘‘Crossing the Water,’’ ‘‘Ariel,’’ ‘‘Getting There,’’ ‘‘The Bee Meeting,’’ ‘‘Totem,’’ and perhaps ‘‘Words’’ as well. There are also poems like ‘‘Black Rook in Rainy Weather’’ and ‘‘Letter in November’’ that seem to indicate that the shapes of her thoughts, her intuitions, come to her in motion rather than when she is standing still. Another of her devices is the beginning in medias res. No one is better than Plath at giving her reader the experience of being swept up in an action that has been gathering momentum for some time. . . . Two devices seem to me a part of her medium not always sufficiently considered when critics have sought to unravel her message. One of them is the deliberate use of ambiguity, of elaborate puns (another of Roethke’s intensifying devices), and the other is a manipulation of images that, in some of her better poems, makes her the poetic daughter of Wallace Stevens. Richard Allen Blessing. In Sylvia Plath: New Views on the Poetry, ed. Gary Lane (John Hopkins Univ. Pr., 1979). pp. 59–61 Plath appears as a unique and disturbing figure in American poetry. She is a poet of enormous talent, who pushes toward a vitalistic account of human existence in its relation to a hostile external reality. Yet she fails to believe in her own theoretical and positive program sufficiently to overcome the corrosive effects of deathfear and death-longing. She enacts repeatedly a drama that can terminate in either life or death, using poetry as a means of playing out the alternate fates reserved for her by existence. The discrete moments of unity and ecstasy in her work anticipate a greater unity of thought and sensation, but that unification of diversity never emerges. As she returns again and again to the same symbolically charged landscapes and the same figures of death and suffering, she seems to lose faith in the ultimate triumph of the life force over the forces of negation. The process of self-transformation winds down into self-annihilation. Yet it is perhaps absurd to expect that Plath by herself could present an integrated vision of body and mind, of life and death. Our culture has been riddled since Puritan times with intense divisions within its system of ideals and its versions of human purpose. Plath reflects a gigantic split within American culture between its positive valuation of a fierce selfhood and its radical 24 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE denial of the body’s sufficiency. Plath is unusual in the extremity of her rejection of the body, but her search for self-expansion through a denial of the surrounding physical reality—of the body, of the social system, of the limitations of time and space—is the essential American story. . . . Plath’s quest for initiatory change fails because the other cannot be brought under the domination of the self, even when the self wills its own destruction so as to merge with the world. Her fierce and brilliant language is all directed at the other whom she wishes to overcome, but the giants and colossi of her poetry fall down only to rise again; the body immolates itself only to return to its old, guilt-ridden shape. As Kafka says, the suffering the artist undergoes releases him—for more suffering. Plath’s initiatory dramas release her from one state of suffering so that she may endure a new agony. For the briefest moment, though, she is set free from the imprisonment of selfhood; and it is this moment that her best poems, ‘‘Ariel,’’ ‘‘Fever 103°,’’ ‘‘Lady Lazarus,’’ and ‘‘The Couriers,’’ celebrate. If she could not sustain her liberation beyond the moment, she still provides an intense vision of the irreducible, entwined core of life and death. Jon Rosenblatt. Sylvia Plath: The Poetry of Initiation (Univ. of North Carolina Pr., 1979), pp. 161–63 More than a decade of readers and critics have been deceived in reading and reacting to Sylvia Plath. She has been neatly positioned under that confessional umbrella where life’s irrefutable direction is deathward, where certain emotions have become clichés of madness. Her poems have been petrified into a handful of graven ur-myths (‘‘preexisting options that constitute a state of being’’) that attempt to normalize Sivvy at the same time that they rob her poetry of its full range of wit and vitality. . . . It is simply inaccurate to trace Plath’s development to a final, glossy union of warring selves, woman and artist, or to place in a matrix the poet’s sensibility in guilt over imagined incest with ‘‘Dad.’’ Such resolutions betray the same limitation: ultimately they dismiss Plath the poet, who seventeen years after her untimely death we are only beginning to appreciate for her emotional pioneering and remarkably skilled poetics. . . . In The Colossus Plath failed to incorporate a perfect, unitive, imaginative vision into the functioning of her poetic sensibility. By using the most intimate subject matter available to her—women’s blood and birth myths, voluntary and involuntary creation—she evaluates her old poetic, its failures and its promises in Crossing the Water. While Plath is exploring a new freedom in form, rhythm, and sound, she is also revising inherited stereotypes about women. These simultaneous functions form a more intimate commentary on—and guideline for—her future development than the distanced world of art provided her in The Colossus. . . . Thematically and technically, the last poems, defying both critical and psychological labels, argue for a positive, creative space for ambivalence. Plath demonstrates her mobility between the contradictory extremes of self-effacement and the diminished life on the one hand, and theatrical energy on the other. The speaker reminds us that her enlarged sensibility is always at work weighing, balancing, and combining. Her expansiveness is not a matter of diffused emotions out of control or schizophrenic inattention. Rather, it is a conscious love of motion. . . .
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Certain themes are present in slightly altered forms throughout her writings: she counsels physical limitations, warns against the hazards of an exclusive imaginative life, mocks romantic illusions and later marital-love delusions, recognizes the failure of a simple identity. Yet these themes seem less important, less defining, than Plath’s consciousness of her changing poetic and her explorations of the startling gamut of emotional options for the speaking voice. By Ariel and Winter Trees, she has turned ‘‘fatal equilibrium’’ into creative ambivalence, giving a dual artistic authority to passivity and motion in her final poems. Mary Lynn Broe. Protean Poetic: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath (Univ. of Missouri Pr., 1980), pp. 180–81, 187–91 Committing suicide is desperation, demand for relief, but I don’t see how we can ignore the way in which it is edged with pleasure and triumph in Sylvia Plath’s work. In The Bell Jar she thinks of slashing her wrists in the tub and imagines the water ‘‘gaudy as poppies’’—an image like those in her later poems. When she is unable to do the act, she still wants ‘‘to spill a little blood’’ for practice. ‘‘Then I felt a small, deep thrill, and a bright seam of red welled up at the lip of the slash. The blood gathered darkly, like fruit, and rolled down my ankle into the cup of my black patent leather shoe.’’ These passages, and others much more brilliant in her poems, show a mind in a state of sensual distortion, seeking pain as much as death, contemplating with grisly lucidity the mutilation of the soul and the flesh. . . . With Sylvia Plath’s suicide is a performance. ‘‘Lady Lazarus’’ describes it with a raging, confident pride. There is no apology or fearfulness. Suicide is an assertion of power, of the strength, not the weakness, of the personality. . . . The circumstances of her suicide in London . . . lead [A.] Alvarez to speculate that Sylvia Plath didn’t ‘‘entirely’’ want to kill herself. She ‘‘risked’’ death—and lost. Elizabeth Hardwick. ‘‘On Sylvia Plath.’’ In Paul Alexander, ed. Ariel Ascending: Writings about Sylvia Plath (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), pp. 104, 106–7 What The Bell Jar ultimately showed was a woman struggling to become whole, not a woman who had reached some sense of stable self. And that conclusion, according to Annis Pratt in Archetypal Patterns in Women’s Fiction, is what any reader might expect from a sensitive woman author. As Pratt observes: . . . even the most conservative authors create narratives manifesting an acute tension between what any normal human being might desire and what a woman must become. Woman’s fiction reflects an experience radically different from men’s because our drive towards growth as persons is thwarted by our society’s prescriptions concerning gender. . . . We are outcasts in the land. The Bell Jar must certainly be read as the story of that inevitable clash, a dulled and dulling repetition of lives all too familiar to contemporary readers, and a testimony to the repressive cultural mold that trapped many mid-century women, forcing them outside what should have been their rightful, productive lives. For those of PLATH us who lived through the 1950s, The Bell Jar moves far beyond being Sylvia Plath’s autobiography. Linda W. Wagner. Women’s Studies. 1986, pp. 67–68 In her earliest work, Plath directly attacks Christianity but soon goes beyond this merely negative attitude in her search for a religious stance of her own. The search does indeed take her into the world of ‘‘cults,’’ or rather of the occult. Her occultism may be taken either as a sign of the attempt to find ‘‘ new Holy Ground’’ or as a symptom of mental disturbance. One of the values of Anne Stevenson’s biography of Plath, Bitter Fame, is that it documents the poet’s occult interests so thoroughly, even though the biography’s rather negative tone makes the occultism seem a mere symptom of psychological instability. Rather than a mere symptom, Plath’s occult studies were a stage in her poetic development and a source of her mature symbolism. . . . In deriving the origins of religion from ambivalence toward the father, Freud in effect identifies the patterns in Plath’s work that stem from her love/hate feelings toward her own father: the communication with him in the quasireligious afterlife of occultism, her ambivalence toward figures like Johnny Panic, Pan, and the ‘‘old god’’ of ‘‘Ouija,’’ the theme of the double that obsessed her from the time of her Smith College thesis to the writing of poems like ‘‘Death & Co.,’’ and finally the dualistic mythology of her mature poetry. In other words, considering Plath’s occultism as a symptom, or as a compensation for the loss of a father, leads directly to a source for what [Ted] Hughes called her ‘‘chapters in a mythology.’’ By using the terms Hughes employs, we may understand her occultism as a creative element in Plath’s search for ‘‘new Holy Ground, a new divinity’’ and not only as a psychological symptom. Although her ‘‘new divinity’’ was no less threatening than the Christian God, it was her own unique conception that inspired rather than oppressed her imagination. . . . When Pan spoke to her from the ring of letters, she heard the unique voice of her inspiration. Timothy Materer. ‘‘Occultism as Source and Symptom in Sylvia Plath’s ‘Dialogue over a Ouija Board.’’’ Twentieth Century Literature. Summer, 1991, pp. 132, 145–46 The last poems illuminate the feelings that led to the smile which [D.M.] Thomas described as seraphic, feelings that gave her the same pleasure as a beautiful dream or vision. We think of suicide as an attack on the self, but to fall in love with it is to want it as something you can use, to attack obstacles in the way of peace and harmony and to join yourself with the force which seems to have been working through you. You feel you have been used, and you want to be used more fully. Writing at high speed is like listening to a voice and taking dictation, or working as a medium who lets the spirit take over her voice. . . . In ‘‘Paralytic’’ she produces a variation on the theme of the engine and the track by distinguishing between the iron god who lovingly makes her go on breathing and the lungs which are dust bags, reminiscent of the two gray papery bags in ‘‘Apprehensions.’’ But how long will the breathing go on? The lines about the rock and the fingers are ambiguous. We don’t know whether her mind is a rock with no fingers or a rock her fingers can’t grip. She’s lying like a dead egg on a world she can’t touch. The dead egg 25
    • PORTER suggests miscarriage, while the paradox is another image of circularity, linking death with the nonexistence that comes before birth. Other people have no more reality than photographs. She’s beyond their reach. Wants and desires have fallen from her. Ronald Hayman. Death and Life of Sylvia Plath (New York: Birch Lane, 1991), pp. 195–96 The foremost obstacle to reading Plath’s poems as elegies is probably their harsh ambivalence; but this is precisely her most important contribution to the genre—her enlargement of the elegy’s affective parameters beyond the traditional pathos, love, reverence, and competitive camaraderie. Summoning a violent anger at her father, Plath shuns the elegy’s affiliations with love poetry and encomium. She uses the genre ‘‘to express anger creatively’’: ‘‘Fury,’’ she observes of her writing, ‘‘flows out into the figure of the letters’’ (Journals 273, 256). Plath extracts and magnifies the elegy’s potential aggression toward the dead, which canonical elegists convert into male bonding and professional competition or expend on nature, third parties, and themselves. . . . Moreover, Plath broke taboos not only on desecrating and openly mourning the dead but also on female expressions of rage, thereby setting a precedent of special importance for women poets. The daughter’s elegy for the father became, with her help, one of the subgenres that enabled women writers to voice antipatriarchal anger in poetry—anger initially focused on the familial embodiment of masculine authority. Jahan Ramazini. ‘‘Daddy, I Have Had to Kill You.’’ PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. Oct., 1993, pp. 1143, 1154 BIBLIOGRAPHY The Colossus, and Other Poems, 1957 (Br. ed.) 1962 (Amer. ed.); The Bell Jar, 1963 (Br. ed.), 1971 (Amer. ed.) (n); Ariel, 1965 (Br. ed.), 1966 (Amer. ed.) (p); Crossing the Water, 1971 (p); Winter Trees, 1971 (Br. ed.), 1972 (Amer. ed.) (p); Letters Home: Correspondence 1950–1963, 1975; Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, 1977 (misc); Collected Poems, 1981; Journals, 1982; Selected Poems, 1985 PORTER, Katherine Anne (1890– 1980) Miss Porter has no genius but much talent. Her average level is high, and she doesn’t let you down. She is more fundamentally serious than Katherine Mansfield, less neurotic, closer to the earth. She is dry-eyed, even in tragedy: when she jokes, she does not smile. You feel you can trust her. . . . Having praised so much, I pause and wonder just what it is that prevents me from uttering the final, whole-hearted hurrah. . . . She is grave, she is delicate, she is just—but she lacks altogether, for me personally, the vulgar appeal. I cannot imagine that she would ever make me cry, or laugh aloud. Christopher Isherwood. New Republic. April 19, 1929. pp. 312–3 26 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Miss Porter’s mind is one of those highly civilized instruments of perception that seems to have come out of old societies, where the ‘‘social trend’’ is fixed and assumed. The individual character as the product of such a background also has a certain constancy of behavior which permits the writer to ignore the now common practice of relating individual conduct to some abstract social or psychological law; the character is taken as a fixed and inviolable entity, predictable only in so far as a familiarity may be said to make him so, and finally unique as the center of inexhaustible depths of feeling and action. In this manner Miss Porter approaches her characters, and it is this that probably underlies many of the very specific virtues of her writing. Allen Tate. The Nation. Oct. 1, 1930. pp. 352–3 It is to Miss Porter’s high credit that, having fixed upon the exceptional background and event, she has not yielded, in her treatment of them, to queerness and forced originality of form. . . . Miss Porter has a range of effects, but each comes through in its place, and only at the demand of her material. She rejects the exclamatory tricks that wind up style to a spurious intensity, and trusts for the most part, to straightforward writing, to patience in detail and to a thorough imaginative grasp on cause and character. Louise Bogan. New Republic. Oct. 22, 1930. p. 277 Katherine Anne Porter moves in the illustrious company headed by Hawthorne, Flaubert, and Henry James. It is the company of storytellers whose fiction possesses distinct esthetic quality, whose feelings have attained harmonious expression in the work. . . . Each of the narratives maintains its own tone—in the sense of effects of color and modulation and accents appropriate to the expression of its individual sentiment. And each of the poignant little dramas represented by them unfolds continually and unpredictably, never betraying its ultimate turns, which arrive as shocks and surprises. Ideal beauty, a fugitive poetry, again and again flashes through the substance of the narrative. But the tone, too, invariably is unemphatic and quiet. Paul Rosenfeld. Saturday Review. April 1, 1939. p. 7 Emphasis on her style should not obscure the fact that Miss Porter has other attributes of a good fiction writer. At her best she has mastered narrative pace and narrative construction; her dialogue is colloquial and at the same time graceful and dignified: she has observed with minuteness a variety of locales and ways of living; her people are speaking likenesses; she has wit; and there is a shrewd modern intelligence, if not an extremely original or forceful one, dominating the story from some little distance. Philip Blair Rice. The Nation. April 15, 1939. p. 442 The exquisite rightness of this author’s art has been commented upon by many; and these sketches and tales reveal to the vague tribe, the discriminating reader, what fundamental brainwork goes into the creating of episodes that, on the surface, seem hastily thrown together. To be sure, this deftness is bought at a price, and the careful casualness of Miss Porter’s approach sometimes reminds one of a cat stalking its prey with unnecessary caution. If
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE some of these narratives were told in the straight-forward narrative manner formerly characteristic of the short story, they might not lose in delicacy and might gain in dramatic power. Howard Mumford Jones. Saturday Review. Sept. 30, 1944. p. 15 Miss Porter’s thematic statements are given their extraordinary power through a rich and complex characterization. Four or five outstanding personality traits are usually boldly established, and these are used as reference points from which to thrust with the quick image and the loaded phrase into the spaces of modifying qualification. The qualification made, she retires for a moment to the centre, waits calmly, and then stabs again—this time either farther in the same direction or in a new direction. In the end, though the characters are typical, recognizable types, they are also particular flesh and bones—somewhat fluid, unpredictable, elusive, contradictory. Charles Allen. AQ. Summer, 1946. p. 93 Katherine Anne Porter is conventionally praised for her humanity and warmth and for the stoic virtues which her people show in the face of life’s hardships. It is true that she sets up the stoic as the best of behavior. It is also true that the dignity and compassion of her characters are strikingly apparent. But Miss Porter’s world is a black and tragic one, filled with disaster, heartbreak, and soulwrecking disillusionment. The most noble of her characters . . . must submit in the nature of things to sorrows which are not ennobling but destructively abrasive of joy, love, and hope; all of them end with a bleak realization of the Everlasting Nay. They are confronted by the thing ‘‘most cruel of all,’’ which in its enormity transcends all other sorrows—the obliteration of hope. The tiny particle of light must always be snuffed out in the depths of the whirlpool. James William Johnson. The Virginia Quarterly Review. Autumn, 1960. p. 611 [Ship of Fools] is a vast portrait gallery, with portraits of all sizes hung here and there on the wall, high and low; and some of the portrayed ones seem to dance down out of their frames; some tumble out, some fight their way out, with fearful vitality. I can think of only one possible reason for anyone’s not liking this book: just at the start the characters are almost too strong, one shrinks from them a little. No, you may say, I do not wish to spend another page with this smug glutton, or this hypochondriac drunkard, or this lachrymose widow; no, not another word out of that girl in the green dress! But presently, having read a certain number of pages, you feel a grudging sympathy with one and all, or a rueful empathy, or at least solidarity, as a human being. Glenway Wescott. Atlantic Monthly. April, 1962. p. 48 Her contemptuous and morbid attitude toward human sexuality plays a large part in deflecting her sensibility to its incessant quarrel with human nature and in leading it by inevitable stages to a vision PORTER of life that is less vice and folly than a hideously choking slow death. For Miss Porter’s versions of political action, artistic creation, religious belief, teaching, and so forth are no less skewed and embittered than her versions of copulation. Further, this clammy connection between sex and evil appears to rule out any feeling toward her characters other than a nagging exasperated irony, and to remove the possibility of any struggle toward deeper insight. As a result, the consciousness that is operating in the book, for all its range of view, is standing, so to speak, on a dime, and has little contact with the sources of imaginative vitality and moral power that renew a long work of fiction. Theodore Solotaroff. Commentary. Oct., 1962. p. 286 Life—which to Miss Porter means personal relationships—is a hazardous affair, however cautiously we try to live it. We walk a tightrope, never more than a step away from possible disaster, so strong and so intimately connected with our need for other people are the primitive impulses of violence and egoism and so thin is the net of civilized behavior that is between us and the pit. Indeed, if in trying to civilize ourselves we have been trying to make order out of chaos, Miss Porter seems to be saying that we have succeeded only in becoming more systematically and efficiently, though less directly violent; the more definite and clear-cut the code by which we live and expect others to live, the more clearly even our ordinary actions reflect the violence that is only imperfectly submerged and that many erupt savagely and nakedly at any time. Marjorie Ryan. Critique. Fall, 1962. p. 94 Innovation in the modern novel is often mere trickiness: to eliminate plot, to eliminate time, even, as in some recent French fiction, to eliminate characters, Katherine Anne Porter in Ship of Fools has used no tricks that were not contained in the workbag of George Eliot. Her innovations, however, are still fundamental. Her book not only contains no hero or heroine; it contains no character who is either the reader or the author, no character with whom the reader can ‘‘identify.’’ Nor is there anywhere in the book any affirmation of the basic striving upwards or even courage of mankind, always considered essential to a ‘‘great’’ novel. To have put it in would have begged the very question the novel asks. And, finally, despite all of Henry James’s warnings, Miss Porter has eschewed her ‘‘native pastures.’’ Not only does the action take place at sea, between the ports of countries other than the United States, on a German boat, but the American characters are less vivid than the German and Spanish, are even a bit pale beside them. Mrs. Treadwell seems less of a born New Yorker than the Captain seems a Berliner. Yet the experience of reading Ship of Fools is still an exhilarating rather than a somber or depressing one, because Miss Porter has reproduced the very stuff of life in reproducing those twenty-seven days on the Vera, and her novel sparkles with vitality and humor. Louis Auchincloss. Pioneers and Caretakers (Minnesota). 1965. p. 151 She has constantly dealt with the chaos of the universe and with the forces within man and within society which have led to man’s 27
    • PORTER alienation. Her probings of the human condition are deeply personal and yet, because of the constant play of irony in everything she writes, impersonal also. Her often and justly praised style is never mannered, is perfectly adaptable to her material, and is characterized by clarity. She has consciously avoided stylistic characteristics or peculiarities which would make it instantly recognizable. No skeleton keys are needed to unlock her stories or her style. She learned from Sterne, Mrs. Woolf, Joyce, James, and others; but she set out not to imitate them but to write simply and clearly, flowingly and flawlessly. She used her admirable style to create characters of complexity, characters which grip the imagination: María Concepción, Braggioni, Miranda, Stephen, Homer T. Hatch, Papa Müler, to name only a few. She also re-created with authority the social backgrounds of Mexico, of turn-of-the-century Texas, of Denver during wartime, of immigrant Irish in the slums. George Hendrick. Katherine Anne Porter (Twayne). 1965. p. 154 Miss Porter’s imagination is statuesque, not dynamic: it does not see life in dramatic terms as the grinding of past and present. She does not think at all in terms of action. In her best stories, to exist is to remember: this is the source of their identity, their stability. (Unamuno says somewhere: ‘‘Intelligence is a terrible thing, it tends to death as memory tends to stability.’’) When Miss Porter cares about her characters, she gives them a past dense enough and a memory searching enough to ensure their stability. But she feels a force only when it has fixed its object in position in its frame; and then she probes it by retrospection. A dynamic imagination works differently; as in John Crowe Ransom’s poems, for instance, where actions speak louder than words or pictures. Denis Donoghue. New York Review of Books. Nov. 11, 1965. p. 18 She knows, we are forced to believe, that if one is to try to see ‘‘all,’’ one must be willing to see the dark side of the moon. She has a will, a ferocious will, to face, but face in its full context, what Herman Melville called the great ‘‘NO’’ of life. If stoicism is the underlying attitude in this fiction, it is a stoicism without grimness or arrogance, capable of gaiety, tenderness, and sympathy, and its ethical point of reference is found in those characters who, like Granny Weatherall, have the toughness to survive but who survive by a loving sense of obligation to others, this sense being, in the end, only a full affirmation of the life-sense, a joy in strength. Robert Penn Warren. The Yale Review. Winter, 1966. p. 290 The anger that speaks everywhere in the stories would trouble the heart for their author whom we love except that her anger is pure, the reason for it evident and clear, and the effect exhilarating. She has made it the tool of her work; what we do is rejoice in it. We are aware of the compassion that guides it, as well. Only compassion could have looked where she looks, could have seen and probed what she sees. Real compassion is perhaps always in the end unsparing; it must make itself a part of knowing. Self-pity does not 28 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE exist here; these stories come out trenchant, bold, defying; they are tough as sanity; unrelinquished sanity, is tough. Despair is here, as well described as if it were Mexico. It is a despair, however, that is robust and sane, open to negotiation by the light of day. Life seen as a savage ordeal has been investigated by a straightforward courage, unshaken nerve, a rescuing wit, and above all with the searching intelligence that is quite plainly not to be daunted. In the end the stories move us not to despair ourselves but to an emotion quite opposite because they are so seriously and clear-sightedly pointing out what they have been formed to show: that which is true under the skin, that which will remain a fact of the spirit. Eudora Welty. The Yale Review. Winter, 1966. p. 269 What is most striking about all her stories is their air of indestructible composure. Their elements seem admirably balanced and fitted, like parts of a machine. No energy is wasted here; and it is true that when, in stories like Noon Wine, the characters confront each other head-on, there is sudden power in the encounter. (Mr. Hatch and Mr. Thompson remain vivid because they are singular; the power of the representation derives from its incisive, unrelenting specificity.) More often, however, the author does not succeed in perceiving particulars with an intensity which would lend them the force and weight of general statement; instead, inventing circumstances which contain foregone conclusions, she elaborates general statements with appropriate details. . . . . . . if one excludes Noon Wine and ‘‘The Jilting of Granny Weatherall’’ (a nicely executed tour de force of less than major interest), her most memorable stories—‘‘Flowering Judas,’’ Pale Horse, Pale Rider, and The Leaning Tower—are those in which the central characters are forced to test themselves against ‘‘other minds and other opinions and other feelings.’’ In general, these stories deal with the attempts of individuals to resist everything in their experience which does not fit their own sense of themselves, to protect and preserve the secret myths enabling them to keep their lives in order. Stephen Donadio. Partisan Review. Spring, 1966. pp. 279, 281 For years, [Katherine Anne Porter] was praised by discerning critics as the cleanest, clearest, and as they say of vines, most shybearing of the writers of our times: which in my opinion she probably is. Then, after writing the best seller Ship of Fools, she came to be regarded in wider circles with a certain uneasiness, as being negative, skeptical, prejudiced, formalistic: which in my opinion she is not. She is no more negative, I must argue, no more skeptical, et cetera, than it is very good to be. . . . Miss Porter is a Modern, a beneficiary of a discipline which has been known as Modernism, just as surely as any of a number of writers who can be grouped together because of their affinities with James and Proust and Joyce. She is akin to Ezra Pound and Pablo Picasso. She grew up in a period in which the mastery of an art was held to be a lifelong, exacting discipline. It was a period, we can say from this distance, which accepted constraints and past history, as well as freedom and modernity. Howard Baker in Sense and Sensibility in Twentieth-Century Writing, ed. Brom Weber (Southern Illinois). 1970. p. 76
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE In the stories that have usually been considered Miss Porter’s finest work, the central figures are people whose desperate preoccupation with themselves cuts them off from effective communication with all other human beings. In some instances, a family situation, present or remembered, may be responsible for the protagonist’s alienation or provide its particular dramatic circumstances. But whether the setting is a New York rooming house, where the protagonist is a long way from home and alone for most of the time of the story’s action, or a Texas farmhouse, with the family present most of the time, the reader’s attention is fixed upon a totally private agony. In all but one of these stories, the protagonist is a woman. . . . Especially in the stories about women, it may be in the failure of a sexual union that the fatal pride chiefly shows itself. But sex is ultimately of no greater importance than social class or occupation or level of literacy. What all these characters have in common, from the Miranda of ‘‘Pale Horse, Pale Rider’’ to Royal Earle Thompson of ‘‘Noon Wine,’’ is a consuming devotion to some idea of themselves—of their own inestimable worth and privilege—which the circumstances of their lives do not permit them to realize in actuality but which they are powerless to abandon. The idea lives in them like a demon, directing all their thoughts and actions. Whatever it may be in which they invest that most precious and indefinable sense of self—a cherished grievance, a need to justify a fatal action, an ideal of order and mental discipline—they pursue it relentlessly, through all discomforts and deprivations, even to death—and if not to the death of the body then of the spirit, incapacitating themselves not only for love but for the enjoyment of any common good of life, to walk forever among strangers. John Edward Hardy. Katherine Anne Porter (Ungar). 1973. pp. 62–3 The most powerful tension in her work is between the emotional involvements and the detachment, the will to shape and assess relations in experience; and the effect of this is sometimes to make a story look and feel strangely different, unanalyzably different, from the ordinary practice. But there is a more significant difference. A great deal of the current handling of the psychology of motive is a kind of clinical reportage. In two respects the work of Katherine Anne Porter is to be distinguished from this. First, she presumably believes that there is not merely pathology in the world, but evil—Evil with a capital E, if you will. Along with the pity and humor of her fiction, there is the rigorous, almost puritanical attempt to make an assessment of experience. Second, she presumably believes in the sanctity of what used to be called the individual soul. . . . It has been said that the work of a major poet, in contrast to that of a minor poet, possesses, among other things, a centrality of coherence—or even obsession. The more we steadily inspect the work of Katherine Anne Porter, the more we see the inner coherence—the work as a deeply imaginative confrontation of a sensibility of genius with the chiaroscuro of modern civilization, in which it is often hard to tell light from dark. It becomes clearer and clearer what she meant when she said that she had been working on one central plan ‘‘to understand the logic of this majestic and terrible failure of the life of man in the Western World.’’. . . What we find in the fiction is a hatred of all things that would prize anything above the awareness of human virtue: that is the essence of the author’s dissent and the core of the despair that PORTER sometimes appears for our future—a future in which the responsible individual disappears into a ‘‘nothing,’’ a mere member of what Kierkegaard called a ‘‘public,’’ a ‘‘kind of gigantic something, an abstract and deserted void which is everything but nothing.’’ Robert Penn Warren. In Katherine Anne Porter: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Robert Penn Warren (PrenticeHall, 1979), pp. 9–10, 14–15 Ship of Fools is a brilliant book. Porter herself was fond of it, and she pointed out to carping critics that it developed a major theme present in most of her work—the theme of the life of illusion, of self-deception. But it is not a great novel. The structure is loosely episodic and the crowded cast of characters is far too large. Porter apparently did not have the ability to construct a satisfactory plot of novel length that would bring into a significant relationship a few fully developed characters. Ship of Fools cannot stand comparison with the great Victorian novels nor with the major work of Henry James (whom, incidentally, Porter greatly admired). Her true genre was the short story and the novella (or long short story), and her accomplishments in those forms can stand any comparison. Porter once said, ‘‘I don’t believe in style: The style is you,’’ and she didn’t like being called a stylist. Nevertheless, she may be, in fact, the greatest stylist in prose fiction in English of this century. There is of course the aforementioned Henry James, but a comparison, for example, of the opening pages of her ‘‘Hacienda’’ with the opening pages of The Ambassadors would be instructive to a young writer learning his craft. Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, Porter is better. Compared to her precise perceptions and carefully modulated rhythms, James’s prose is somewhat slow-moving, ponderous, and diffuse. . . . As time goes by, the accomplishments in American fiction, poetry, and criticism between the wars take on more and more significance. Katherine Anne Porter’s stories, especially those written during this period, will be given an increasingly high position in our literary heritage. Donald E. Stanford. Southern Review. Winter, 1981, pp. 1–2 [Katherine Anne] Porter’s use of Southern materials both paralleled and transcended the way in which her fellow Texas writers portrayed the South. For one thing, she made her part of Texas seem more lush, more redolent of the deep South than it might otherwise be envisioned. Her formative Texas years were spent in Kyle, in central Texas, sixteen miles south of Austin. The countryside looks western to somebody from East Texas, and it looks like East Texas to somebody from the Panhandle. (There are trees in Kyle.) Kyle partakes of both prairie and farmland, though it’s mainly prairie. But when Porter describes Kyle, it’s a place of honeyed heat and as luscious as anything in Thomas Wolfe or any of the other Southern lyricists. . . . But even in such a rich description, one notes essential differences between Porter and her fellow Texas writers in the Southern tradition. Porter does not allegorize the landscape; she does not mythicize it into a Virgilian pastoral mode, nor does she politicize it to present, even covertly, the Confederate point of view. It is precisely here, in her depiction of race, gender, and class, that Porter most completely distances herself from the provincial limitations of lesser writers, such as [Dorothy] Scarborough and 29
    • POUND [Laura] Krey. Porter understood better than any other Texas writer the complex interconnectedness of the races in the South, and the stories that bear upon this matter in The Old Order are a triumph of clear-headed, unsentimental humanity. . . . Class, gender, race—in all three issues, Porter transcended the limited perspectives of her time and place. At the same time, she remained absolutely faithful to the actual historical conditions of that time and place—pre-World War I central Texas, Southern to the core. And yet, at the very time Porter was lifting the very considerable body of southern-based Texas writing to the highest level of art ever achieved by a Texas writer, within the state itself the Southern dimension was being erased in favor of the Western. The reasons were many, but three of them were J. Frank Dobie, Walter P. Webb, and Zane Grey. Although Dobie and Webb would not enjoy being linked with Zane Grey, in a true sense that is where they belong. Like Grey, they were interested only in the Texas of cowboys and vaqueros, of longhorns and unfenced prairies. In his 1937 opus West of the Pecos, Grey defined real Texas, which lay west of the ‘‘small part of Texas which adjoined Louisiana, and partook of its physical and traditional aspects. Now he wanted to find the real Texas—the Texas that had fallen at the Alamo and that in the end had conquered Santa Anna, and was now reaching north and west, an empire in the making.’’ The Alamo, Texas Rangers, and cowboys—those were the chief ingredients of the Texas myth that Grey, Dobie, Webb, and a thousand Western movies bought into and recycled until everybody from Alaska to Zimbabwe knew what Texas was: it was Southfork. For too many years, Porter’s Texas was obscured by both its similarity to the Deep South and its difference from the prevailing Western myth that sold so well in Texas. Now Porter’s Texas is beginning to be better known. It is an act of historical recovery that still awaits its full recognition. Don Graham. ‘‘A Southern Writer in Texas.’’ In Clinton Machann and William Bedford Clark, eds. Katherine Anne Porter and Texas; An Uneasy Relationship (College Station: Texas A&M Univ. Pr., 1990), pp. 64–65, 69–70 Perhaps what Porter in the fifties found most appalling about American democracy was what she saw as the dangerous extremes to which its central philosophical formulation that ‘‘all men are created equal’’ was being taken in justifying the leveling of all classes and races into an undifferentiated mass in regard to breeding, education, and talent. Her calls for the right to be able to choose the people with whom she associated embodies her resistance to this democratic leveling—a resistance she believed necessary for maintaining her version of democracy, a democratic elitism. . . . Porter in the fifties spoke out not only against democratic masses but also against minority groups trying to sway the masses. In light of her cynical views of democracy and her passionate regard for privacy (particularly her understanding of privacy as in part the right to choose one’s company), it should come as no surprise that Porter had little sympathy for the civil rights movement, despite having spoken out earlier in her career, especially during the thirties, about the plight of blacks in America. In a 1958 interview with the Richmond News Leader, Porter chastised the Supreme Court for its ‘‘moral irresponsibility’’ in its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. She told the paper that she belonged ‘‘to the school of thought that believes the Supreme Court acted recklessly and irresponsibly in precipitating this crisis at the worst possible time when we already had enough crises on hand.’’ 30 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Clearly she saw blacks’ struggle for civil liberties as a threat to her own (the right of privacy in particular) and indeed as a threat to the entire democratic process. . . . Progressive bitterness and anger do not necessarily signal the weakening of artistic vision, but in Porter’s case I believe they did. Ushered along by her totalitarian obsession, Porter’s dark vision of the fifties marked a closing off of her openness to the wealth and variety of experience and withdrawal into a stultifying and paranoid cynicism. Near the end of Ship of Fools, with the ship approaching its destination, the narrator notes that the people at the captain’s table no longer converse: ‘‘They were no longer interested in anything the others had to say—their minds were closing in and folding up once more around their own concerns, their only common hope being to leave that ship and end that voyage and to take up their real and separate lives once more.’’ As they had during their preparations for embarking from Mexico, the travelers now each ‘‘chose to maintain his pride and separateness within himself.’’ In her writing of Ship of Fools Porter likewise suffered, giving herself over unquestioningly to her obsessive thinking. Porter may have seen Ship of Fools as an attempt to correct twentieth-century chaos and madness, but what the novel finally became was something close in spirit to Dr. Schumann’s calculated detachment and idealism—not a corrective for but an embodiment of the very problem it supposedly combated. With its high-minded authoritarianism, Ship of Fools itself points to the totalitarian madness that Porter came to see in everyone but herself. One thinks most obviously here of her blindness in failing to see the connection between her own ugly racism and that of Nazi ideology. Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Jr. Katherine Anne Porter’s Artistic Development: Primitivism, Traditionalism, and Totalitarianism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Pr., 1993), pp. 204–6, 220 BIBLIOGRAPHY Outline of Mexican Popular Arts and Crafts, 1922 (e); Flowering Judas, 1930, enlarged ed., 1935 (s); Hacienda, 1934 (s); Noon Wine, 1937 (s); Pale Horse, Pale Rider (with Old Mortality and Noon Wine, 1939 (3 n); The Leaning Tower, 1944 (s); The Days Before, 1952 (e); The Old Order, 1955 (s); Ship of Fools, 1962 (n); Collected Stories, 1965; The Collected Essays and Occasional Writings of Katherine Anne Porter, 1970 (misc); The NeverEnding Wrong, 1977 (m); Collected Stories, 1985; Conversations, 1987 (r, i.e., interviews); Letters, 1990; This Strange, Old World and Other Book Reviews, 1991 (c); Uncollected Early Prose, 1993 (misc); Katherine Anne Porter’s Poetry, ed. Darlene Harbour Unrue, 1996 POUND, Ezra (1885–1972) He is like a man who goes hunting hedgehogs with bare feet—and finds his prey all prickles; to vary and mix the metaphor, he sits on his little hill in Kensington as if it were Olympian, casting forth winged words which, like boomerangs, are returned unto him an hundred-fold! In the melee his work is disloyally attacked, his least
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE errors are exposed with a malignant triumph; his sensitiveness, which hides under a cover of bluster, is denounced as conceit; his fineness of perception is misunderstood as triviality. His scholarship, with its rather overwhelming pretension, is suspect; his polemics verge on hysteria. His fault is that he is an anachronism. With the enthusiasm of a Renaissance scholar, one of those whose fine devotion but faulty learning revealed to the fifteenth-century world the civilization of Greece, he lives in an age which looks at literature as a hobby, a freak, a branch of education; but never as a life study, a burning passion. Richard Aldington. Poetry. July, 1920. p. 214 Given a mind that is not averse to labouring, provided that a kernel lies beneath the hard shells, you can reach the purpose of these poems. They contain the subconscious matter deposited by years of reading and observation in one man’s mind, and in their residence in this sub-conscious state they have blended into the man’s mental and emotional prejudices and undergone a metamorphosis, in which they become his visualization and interpretation of past men’s events. Legendary heroes, kings, dukes, queens, soldiers, slaves, they live again as this man would have them live, and speak words that are partly his and partly their own, in the manner of ubermarionettes. Their fragmentary and often tangled existence— quick appearances and vanishings—is a distinctive feature of the subconscious state that enclosed them before they were extracted from the poet. Maxwell Bodenheim. Dial. Jan., 1922. p. 91 POUND The cantos are a sort of Golden Ass. There is a likeness, but there is no parallel beyond the mere historical one: both books are the production of worlds without convictions and given over to a hard secular program. Here the similarity ends. For Mr. Pound is a powerful reactionary, a faithful mind devoted to those ages when the myths were not merely pretty, but true. And there is a cloud of melancholy irony hanging over the cantos. He is persuaded that the myths are only beautiful, and he drops them after a glimpse, but he is not reconciled to this aestheticism: he ironically puts the myths against the ugly specimens of modern life that have defeated them. . . . He understands poetry and how to write it. This is enough for one man to know. And the thirty cantos are enough to occupy a loving and ceaseless study—say a canto a year for thirty years, all thirty to be read every few weeks just for tone. Allen Tate. The Nation. June 10, 1931. pp. 633–4 When we consider this devotion to literature, we come upon the essential characteristic of the Cantos: their philological discussions, their translations, their textual references, their peculiar and unceasing interest in how things are said, not to speak of the various dialects and slangs which are introduced, and the habitual quotation of letters, codices, and other documents. . . . Pound has been the pure literary man, the complete man of letters; the concern with literary things, with the very look of print upon the page, is at the center, the source of his writings. . . . Pound fits one of his own categories: he has been a great inventor in verse, and we know how few can be supposed to know the satisfaction of fulfilling their own canons of excellence. Delmore Schwartz. Poetry. March, 1938. pp. 326–39 There are many so-called educators in our over-instructed world, but few inspired teachers. Ezra Pound is one of the few. . . . His method has been fiercely destructive of rooted prejudices, but magically encouraging to every green shoot of new growth. His mind, being imaginatively creative, presented examples as well as precept, offered beautiful poems to the world. . . . Whether or not he ever offers us more songs, his best work has already the completeness of adequate beauty. As a leader, a revolutionist in the art, he will have a place in literary history; as a poet he will sing into the hearts and minds of all free-singing spirits in the next age—and perhaps in the ages beyond much of our prophecy. Harriet Monroe. Poetry, May, 1925. pp. 94–7 Some would say the facing in many directions of a quadriga drawn by centaurs, that we meet in the Cantos, puts strain on bipedal understanding; there is love of risk; but the experienced grafting of literature upon music is very remarkable—the resonance of color, allusions, tongues, sounding each through the other as in symphonic instrumentation. Even if one understood nothing, one would enjoy the musicianly manipulation. . . . Mr. Pound, in the prose that he writes, has formulated his own commentary upon the Cantos. They are as an armorial coat of attitudes of things that have happened in books and in life; they are not a shield but a coat worn by a man, as in the days when heraldry was beginning. Marianne Moore. Poetry. Oct., 1931. pp. 48–50 But what is Pound’s class, and how can it be described without contemptuousness in the description and without giving the effect of anything contemptible in the class; for it is an admirable class and ought to be spoken of with admiration. Essentially it is the class of those who have a care for the purity of the tongue as it is spoken and as it sounds and as it changes in speech and sound, and who know that that purity can only exist in the movement of continuous alternation between the ‘‘fawn’s flesh and the saint’s vision,’’ and who know, so, that the movement, not the alternatives themselves, is the movement of music. . . . Poets like Pound are the executive artists for their generation; he does not provide a new way of looking . . . but he provides the means of many ways of looking. R. P. Blackmur. Poetry. Sept., 1946. pp. 344–5 The opinion has been voiced that Pound’s eventual reputation will rest upon his criticism and not upon his poetry. (I have been paid the same compliment myself.) I disagree. It is on his total work for literature that he must be judged: on his poetry, and his criticism, and his influence on men and on events at a turning point in literature. In any case, his criticism takes its significance from the fact that it is the writing of a poet about poetry: it must be read in the light of his own poetry, as well as of poetry by other men whom he championed. . . . Pound’s great contribution to the work of other poets (if they choose to accept what he offers) is his insistence upon 31
    • POUND the immensity of the amount of conscious labor to be performed by the poet. . . . He . . . provides an example of devotion to ‘‘the art of poetry’’ which I can only parallel in our time by the example of Valéry. T. S. Eliot. Poetry. Sept., 1946. pp. 331–8 Pound’s cantos are the words of a man for whom the thing given has, in general, the upper hand over deliberation, a man whose long isolation in Rapallo and unfretful assurance as to his own technical power have allowed unusual freedom in moving here or there, up or down, forward or backward (like a swimmer in clear water) among verbal or substantial intimations and seizing them, putting them down, when a more hesitant—or sluggish—artist would have left them in the air. . . . In perception or vision he would mount to a paradisio as his master, Dante did. . . . Well, the moral universe of the Divine Comedy was orthodox, graded, and public, firmly conceived to its uttermost corner; and this of Pound’s is quite a different thing. But at their least valuation I submit that these cantos in which light and air—and song—move so freely are more exhilarating poetic sketch-books, Notes from the Upper Air, than can be found elsewhere in our literature. Robert Fitzgerald. New Republic. Aug. 16, 1948. pp. 21–3 The Cantos are like a tremendous tapestry in which certain designs predominate, or like a great fugue with recurring motifs, or like a modern Commedia, with the stenches from hell more often than not climbing up to smother purgatory and hover cloudily on the sill of paradise. . . . Pound uses . . . stories, some legendary, some apocryphal, some true, to symbolize or exemplify the cruelties of usury, and to point up his fury with those ‘‘who set money lust before the pleasures of the senses,’’ those responsible for the mutilation of men and of art. In his rage he sometimes gets out no more than a stuttered curse or lashes blindly at the innocent, but I do not think even Dante has more powerfully set down the hideousness of corruption, and the fewest lyricists have equaled Pound’s gift for evoking particulars of breath-taking delicacy and luster. Babette Deutsch. New York Herald Tribune Book Section. Aug. 22, 1948. p. 7 Pound was one of the most opinionated and unselfish men who ever lived, and he made friends and enemies everywhere by the simple exercise of the classic American constitutional right of free speech. His speech was free to outrageous license. He was completely reckless about making enemies. His so-called anti-Semitism was, hardly anyone has noted, only equaled by his anti-Christianism. It is true he hated most in the Catholic faith the elements of Judaism. It comes down squarely to anti-monotheism. . . . Pound felt himself to be in the direct line of Mediterranean civilization, rooted in Greece. . . . He was a lover of the sublime, and a seeker after perfection, a true poet, of the kind born in a hair shirt—a God-sent disturber of the peace in the arts, the one department of human life where peace is fatal. Katherine Anne Porter. New York Times Book Section. Oct. 29, 1950. p. 4 32 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE I could never take him as a steady diet. Never. He was often brilliant but an ass. But I never (so long as I kept away) got tired of him, or, for a fact, ceased to love him. He had to be loved, even if he kicked you in the teeth for it (but that he never did); he looked as if he might, but he was, at heart, much too gentle, much too good a friend for that. And he had, at bottom, an inexhaustible patience, an infinite depth of human imagination and sympathy. Vicious, catty at times, neglectful, if he trusted you not to mind, but warm and devoted—funny, too, as I have said. We hunted, to some extent at least, together, and not each other. William Carlos Williams. Autobiography (Random). 1951. p. 58 Certainly Ezra Pound can be read and understood in depth only with a detailed explication of his references in the other hand. . . . Yet the fact remains that even a reader who drives through these Cantos at full gallop will see that the poem is epic in intent, that its subject is the history of modern man’s consciousness, and that the telling occurs in a kind of perpetual present, a sort of reverie of the racial consciousness. . . . A book, I propose, becomes a good book when it creates a world one can enter credibly in imagination and a perception of a life one can live vicariously. A good book becomes a great book when that world achieves a magnitude and that lifeperception a depth that not only satisfies the imagination but enlarges it beyond all expectation. The final measure of the Cantos lies, I believe, in the fact that they do offer such an enlargement to a willing reader. John Ciardi. New York Times Book Section. June 24, 1956. pp. 4–5 Certainly, Propertius, like Mauberley, is also an ironic survey of Pound’s own time and place; in it the Roman becomes curiously modern. . . . It is this that gives [Pound] that resilience and intelligent sense of proportion which reminded Dr. Leavis of the seventeenth-century poets; they too were soaked in classical literature. The difference is that Pound does not, as most modern poets might, get at the Latin through the seventeenth century. He seems to work directly through the foreign language. And this is the essence of his best writing. It owes its freshness and economy to this power of using words as if he had just coined them. His language has no literary incrustations. He is the only poet in the last three hundred years to write English as though he had never read Shakespeare. . . . When I suggested this to him, he replied that his literary ancestor was Dante. A. Alvarez. Stewards of Excellence (Scribner). 1958. pp. 54–5 Perhaps he will turn out to have been the Ossian of the twentieth century. . . . As Whitman’s love for himself would drive him to transforming all other selves into aspects of himself in order that he might love them, so Pound’s love for himself would drive him to destroy all other selves whose existence his idea of love will prevent him from loving. Whitman’s and Pound’s means to making an American epic are thus diametrically opposed, but they have at least this in common: they ask that their poetry lead to a totally
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE unifying sacramentalism. To know, is for Whitman, to become; for Pound, to become or be destroyed. Roy Harvey Pearce. The Continuity of American Poetry (Princeton). 1961. pp. 100–101 . . . the whole point of the Homage [To Sextus Properties] is the defense of the individual poet’s right to make poetry as his own artistic principles, and not as the age, demanded. Love in itself is not Pound’s concern here, but the right to produce love poetry and not propaganda. This comparative lack of interest in the subject for its own sake is indicated by the comparatively low temperature of those sections of the Homage which were intended to reproduce Propertius’ very genuine amorous fire. And this, it might be argued, is a fault, for it underrates the devotion of Propertius to Cynthia qua mistress and not qua subject for writing poetry. It stresses a more doctrinaire and more literary attitude, which is of course there in Propertius’ artistic concern, but does not fit Propertius so much as Pound (‘‘il miglior fabbro’’). J. P. Sullivan. Kenyon Review. Summer, 1961. pp. 476–7 Fortunately there are kinds of humanism other than those represented by Irving Babbitt and Ezra Pound. To the democratic humanist a number of Pound’s attitudes are offensive. The poet’s long standing aristocratic bias, his fascist ideals of order, and his crass anti-Semitism are obtrusive faults and limiting features of his poetry and cannot be thought of as simply the aberrations and personal opinions of Pound the man. The meanings of literature are among its most conspicuous formal aspects, and an analysis of the ideas and values in a poem cannot be set apart, as a function distinct in kind, from criticism concerned with its patterns of sound, syntax, and imagery. To attempt to do so, as the Bollingen committee did in awarding a prize to The Pisan Cantos for aesthetic or technical considerations, apart from the opinions expressed, is to assume an untenable form-content distinction. A writer’s work is assessed for the quality of its ideas and values, as well as for the quality of the other formal elements with which they are interrelated. To say this is not to damn Pound or deny his achievement. It is too easy to do so self-righteously. The image of the alienated artist which he projected as the caged poet of The Pisan Cantos stands as a counter indictment of the world against which he had recoiled in so extreme, a fashion—a world which has in many ways been inimical to the human values (for Pound has his humanities) and the creative freedom he has championed for half a century. Walter Sutton. Introduction to Ezra Pound: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Walter Sutton (Prentice). 1963. p. 8 This claim for Pound—that he recovered for English verse something lost to it since Campion or at least since Waller—may get more general agreement than any other. And [Charles] Olson is surely right to point to this achievement as rooted in something altogether more basic and less conspicuous than, for instance, the luxurious orchestration of the choruses in Women of Trachis. It is something that has to do with the reconstituting of the verse-line as the poetic unit, slowing down the surge from one line into the next POUND in such a way that smaller components within the line (down to the very syllables) can recover weight and value. When Pound is writing at his best we seem to have perceptions succeeding one another at unusual speed at the same time as the syllables succeed one another unusually slowly. But succession, in any case, is what is involved—succession, sequaciousness. Donald Davie. Ezra Pound: Poet as Sculptor (Oxford). 1964. p. 246 A poet’s anti-Semitism, a poet’s eugenics, may therefore connect him not only with the debased pragmatism of men he ought to despise, but with a crude primitivism of the sort he would never consciously regard as relevant to his own more refined regress. Pound’s radio talks were no doubt the work of a man who had lost some of the sense of reality; but above all they represented a failure of what I have called clerical skepticism, and a betrayal rather than a renovation of the tradition which, it is assumed, lies under the threat of destruction by corrupt politics, economics and language. Frank Kermode. Partisan Review. Summer, 1966.pp. 350–1 Underneath all his restive search for a satisfying literary environment, T.S. Eliot wrote of Pound in 1946, ‘‘the future of American letters was what concerned him most.’’ The American literature for which he contended, however, was primarily not an autochthonous expression but rather a redemptive agent in the preservation of the finest values evolved by Western civilization. Rooted as his mind was basically in the cultural premises of the eighteenth century and the Enlightenment, he continued to project the axiomatic belief of such Americans as John Adams and Crèvecoeur that the arts traveled Westward with empire, and that America was destined to complete the great circle. Like the eighteenth century, too, he inclined to construe literature not in a merely narrow belletristic sense but as an expression of the full intellectual scope of man. The arts, said Pound during the First World War, must be placed ahead of the church and scholarship as the ‘‘acknowledged guide and lamp of civilization.’’ Benjamin T. Spencer. PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. Dec., 1966. p. 459 . . . when I see Ezra Pound’s example appropriated exclusively by one or another group of poets, it seems to me that this is a diminution of his place in our world and that I must do what I can to correct it; for in respect to Pound several possibilities should be borne in mind. First, the possibility of preferring—and preference is not dogma—the poems of Lustra, Cathay, Propertius, and Mauberley, which Pound wrote at the same time as his influential prose statements of theory and criticism, to much of the Cantos, which he wrote at a considerably later period. Second, the possibility that Pound by himself re-invented the poetic line as the unit of Poetry, variable and end-stopped, that his concept of modern verse measure was clearer and more workable than anyone else’s, and that he came to it long before [William Carlos] Williams conceived his notion of the variable foot. Third, the possibility—indeed, it is much more—that Pound was as closely associated with Eliot as 33
    • POUND with Williams throughout their lives, that on the other hand he damned London as heartily as he did Concord, and that his immense influence has descended equally, though no doubt differently, through the entire conspectus of Anglo-American writing to the present day. . . . Hayden Carruth. Poetry. May, 1967.p.104 I would propose . . . as a way-in to the Cantos, that the unity of the poem is that of its dominant figure, Pound himself, the controlling intelligence, teaching the moral significance of history as a mirror for magistrates. His role is that of the great counsellor, close to the strong Prince, governing his state in terms of a coherent political intelligence. This will explain, to start with, why the form of the poem is not a real problem: as long as the words issue from the single controlling intelligence, and as long as the speaker’s role remains unchanged, the unity of the poem is built-in, thus guaranteed. The speaker is deemed to be a fixed point, centre of an ever expanding circle of reference; himself immutable. This marks the main difference between Pound and his nearest relative Walt Whitman. Whitman assumes that the self ‘‘is’’ through the collusion of its world, the objects it makes its own. Hence these objects, because they contribute to the opulence of the self, should be as vivid and manifold as possible. The equation in this case is X = A plus B plus C plus D, and so on. Each object apprehended enriches the observer. But Pound conceives the self as a being, immutably set off against a world upon which it imposes—or in which it sometimes finds—an idea of order congenial to its nature. Denis Donoghue. The Ordinary Universe (Macmillan— N.Y.). 1968. p. 293 Over and over, in ‘‘Arnold Dolmetsch,’’ in ‘‘Psychology and Troubadours,’’ and pre-eminently in Guide to Kulchur, [Pound] has insisted that each man must define his own microcosm and that erecting subjective validities into putatively universal dogmata does violence to human needs and to truth. For Pound, poetry begins in an interest not in the nature of the ruling deity, but in human experiences. This is one reason why his peculiar sort of neoPlatonism had to issue in a polytheistic religion, and why his mysticism did not emerge as specifically Christian—or even as religious, as one expects to think of that word. The more fortunate among us participate in the energy of the Supreme Intelligence, and since each individual is unique (owing to his own logos or virtu), each man’s participation will be objectified in a unique way; yet the ‘‘gods’’ representing these objectifications will all be genuine. Pound’s religious concern, therefore—or, better, his moral philosophy—points inward, to one’s true self and to the ordered exercise of one’s natural energies—ordered and restricted sufficiently to avoid injuring or interfering with other people, but not limited by arbitrary (dogmatic) exclusions and repressions. These observations suggest again that the most important characteristic of Pound’s cosmology is what we may call its metaphorical possibilities and that it is primarily a mechanism for the expression of purely subjective concerns. Thomas H. Jackson. The Early Poetry of Ezra Pound (Harvard). 1968. pp. 84–5 34 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Pound’s psychological theory of myth may be summarized as follows: (1) The psychic experience is extraordinary, brief, and yet subjectively true. It is beyond the generally shared realm of common experience, but it is ‘‘vivid and undeniable.’’ Pound often calls it an ‘‘adventure.’’ (2) It is no more than experience. It does not reveal an objective, transcendental order. Myths are primarily ‘‘explications of mood,’’ and Pound almost never chooses to ‘‘probe deeper.’’ (3) The myth or work of art is made out of this rare emotion. (4) It is an objective verbal equation for a basically incommunicable experience. Language cannot convey the primary intensity of the experience itself; it can only reconstruct something else as the ‘‘nearest equation’’ that the myth-maker is ‘‘capable of putting into words.’’ (5) The myth-maker (poet) cannot relate his experience by speaking out directly in the first person. He must ‘‘screen himself’’ and speak indirectly through ‘‘an impersonal or objective story.’’ Hence the need for masks and personae. All of these ideas are central to Pound’s theory of poetry as a record of delightful psychic experience. Hugh Witemeyer. The Poetry of Ezra Pound (California). 1969. p. 24 Form was one of the values to which Pound was utterly committed. Not a form of objects—not ‘‘well-wrought-urn-ism’’—but a form of events, of process, of lines of force as Fenollosa apprehended them: ‘‘Transferences of power.’’ Sight alone can never come to the conception of a universe so full of vital energies that forces are being transferred constantly, but without sight we would have only a vague roaring in our ears from such apprehension. Form, for Pound, is an attempt to focus on the loci of these transferences. His is dynamic form, to be sure. . . . Reading a line from a Canto, we must have a sense that something is ‘‘going on’’ all the time; the words do not simply lie in limp patterns, the poem is something happening rather than something over with. But it also has a fixedness, a dance, even in its movement: Pound was a Vorticist, a man who believes that powerful force creates and maintains form. The vortex is a figure for the reconciliation of those mighty opposites, dynamic and static, in a shape whose fixedness is dependent on a certain intensity of movement. Herbert Schneidau. Ezra Pound: The Image and the Real (Louisiana State). 1969. p. 195 Quite apart from Pound’s idiosyncratic technique of fragmented rather than sequential presentation (which has long been the subject of criticism), the shifts in his viewpoint and in his preoccupations during the three decades covered by the first eighty-four cantos inevitably detract from the unity of the poem as a whole. But these changes, which sometimes are very abrupt, as in the new direction assumed in the Eleven New Cantos (1934), are perhaps more appropriate for a modern epic than a classical unity of subject and tone would be. For The Cantos is obviously a poem written ‘‘in process’’ by a poet aware of the problems of historical novelty and change and of the difficulties of maintaining his sea legs as a
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE voyager in the stream of twentieth-century culture. When one considers the misfortunes that befell him, one recognizes the achievement of this Odyssean wanderer in surviving at all. Walter Sutton in Sense and Sensibility in Twentieth-Century Writing, ed. Brom Weber (Southern Illinois). 1970. p. 128 It is Pound’s conception of a world in memory sustained within the mind of one man that makes the Cantos one of the great poems in English. Pound calls it, here again, his ‘‘palimpsest,’’ and indeed there is no better word to describe the effects of these [Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII] as of all the earlier Cantos. Pound’s poems are a manuscript written over the faintly discernible words of others, a shifting, glittering, glimmering memory of creative achievement that gleams through the ugliness of existence and makes what Pound here humorously calls ‘‘a nice quiet paradise over the shambles’’—a paradise within the mind, holding together man’s cultural achievements, retaining the old scripts, making them legible again. It is, of course, the romantic conception of mind that DeQuincey summed up when he said that the human brain was ‘‘a natural and mighty palimpsest.’’ Deriving from Wordsworth’s Prelude and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Pound’s Cantos pick up and sustain the cultures of the world within the apprehension of an individual mind and pass them on to poets such as [Robert] Lowell. Louis L. Martz. The Yale Review. Winter, 1970. p. 263 Pound’s structures, like Jefferson’s plough, were meant to be useful: to be validated therefore not by his opinions but by the unarguable existence of what exists. . . . He constellates Luminous Details, naming them, as again and again in the Cantos he names the signed column. For the column exists; what it proves about forgotten possibilities it proves by simply existing. And five hundred more such columns would not intensify the proof. Again and again in the Cantos single details merely prove that something lies inside the domain of the possible. It is not necessary to prove that the possibility was ever widely actualized; only that it exists. What was done at Worgl—once—by one mayor, in one village— proves that stamp scrip will work. What was done in San Zeno, once, on one column, proves the possibility of a craftsman’s pride in an unobtrusive structural member. And anything that is possible can again be. The Cantos scan the past for possibilities, but their dynamic is turned toward the future. And they enumerate so many places, so many stones, so many buildings, because nothing is so irrefutable as a stone. Hugh Kenner. The Pound Era (California). 1971. p. 325 The poem upon which ‘‘Near Perigord’’ is based, ‘‘Dompna Pois,’’ illuminates another important aspect of The Cantos: Pound’s method of presentation, especially as it applies to his epic hero. In the epigraph preceding ‘‘Na Audiart,’’ Pound speaks of ‘‘Dompna Pois’’ as a poem in which the artist creates ‘‘‘Una dompna soiseubuda’ a borrowed lady or as the Italians translated it ‘Una donna ideale.’’’ In our discussion of that poem we noticed that it symbolized Pound’s poetic method (the creation of an ideal through the accumulation of fragments); this is also the method of The Cantos. Pound later called this the ‘‘ideogrammatic method,’’ but POUND he discovered it in Provence long before he came across the Fenollosa manuscripts. Pound’s epic hero can also be defined in these terms, for he is really ‘‘un om soiseubut,’’ a ‘‘borrowed’’ (and ‘‘ideal’’) man, the composite persona who undergoes a series of significant metamorphoses. When considered in this context, the similarities of the individual personae of The Cantos become quite apparent. Stuart Y. McDougal. Ezra Pound and the Troubador Tradition (Princeton). 1972. pp. 146–7 Toward the end of his life, Ezra Pound, 86, has found yet another eloquent new voice: silence. This American bard whose Cantos transformed the language of English poetry . . . this early champion and benefactor of James Joyce, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot . . . this inspired midwife to Eliot’s Waste Land . . . speaks now mostly in monosyllables—when he speaks at all. Some say this has to do with the fatigue of age plus a physical collapse that followed his thirteen years of incarceration as a political prisoner of his own United States. . . . Some say Pound’s silence, which deepens from year to year, expresses the profound sense of anti-climax that came with freedom. Some say it spells his disgust with life and mankind. And others say Pound has discovered that words have more to do with lies and misunderstanding than with communication. Alan Levy. New York Times Magazine Section. Jan. 9, 1972. p. 14 Pound’s significance, for those who are not principally concerned for poetry, his or any other, may be thought to turn therefore on what we understand by ‘‘a literary civilization’’; whether we want any more of it; and, supposing we do, what chance we stand of getting it in any future that we can foresee. In the first place, such a civilization will have as its avowed end, quite unashamedly, pleasure—John Masefield’s ‘‘delightful spoil.’’ Literature may instruct, and the poet of The Cantos certainly acted in the belief that it did; but if it instructs, it instructs only by pleasing—surreptitiously, through the delights that it brings. Moreover, if we trust Pound, the pleasure that literature brings is direct and as if immediate, like the pleasure of cool air brushing against one’s bared and heated skin. This depends upon a sensuous aliveness in ourselves such as Pound had when he spoke of the ‘‘effect of a decent climate where a man leaves his nerve-set open, or allows it to tune into its ambience.’’ . . . To Pound it seemed, as it has to others, that in Protestant cultures it was the Hebraic component which instilled fear and distrust of sensuous pleasure; and so he threw his weight always on the side of the Hellenic voice which called on sculptors to make images of the gods, as against the Hebraic iconoclasm which was set against ‘‘graven images.’’ Donald Davie. Ezra Pound (Penguin, 1975), pp. 100–101 It needs no oracle to tell us that The Cantos are an extreme form of sequence. They are, in fact, a sequence of sequences, each growing out of the preoccupations and experiences of a limited period of 35
    • POUND time. It is ludicrous to imagine that the whole line of succeeding cantos, developing for almost fifty years, constitutes a single integrated work in any ordinary sense. The normal process of getting a work under way, discovering its form and bearings, and revising it so that all may emerge as organically as possible is simply not open to a poet who writes out of the succeeding phases of his experience, in the chronological order of his private spiritual and empirical history, without leaving time for recasting. . . . Pound’s genius in deploying documentary quotations and other data is extraordinary. He does lose aesthetic perspective and grow lengthy because of his love of the materials and of the sound of the human voice expressing, however drily and repetitiously, certain favorite doctrines that seem to him hard, vibrantly relevant kernels of perception. But he also makes a found poetry of these materials—rearranges them, creates internal rhymes, balances them against snatches of his own phrasing and pure imagistic flashes or other quick poetic notations. The intrinsic poetics of expository speech created a special music for him, so that a phrase like ‘‘every bank of discount’’ becomes a refrain in a lyrical sense, not merely a reiterated point of argument. One has only to compare his use of such materials with that of certain of his followers—Charles Olson, for instance—to see how much truer his ear is than theirs. Line by line he is superb, although page by page one does grow a bit weary. Still, it is interesting that in these volumes written in the 1930’s the passionate lyric centers, harking back to early work and usually based on the Odyssey, are indispensable. . . . But it is clear that there is no Dantean or Homeric structure— just allusions to those structures that enter the recurring improvisational patterns in the separate volumes. Pound’s mind teemed with the phrases and images and figures that populate the works that meant most to him. They are at once fixed points of reference and energizers of the associative process always at work in his imagination. He did not forget impressions or tones of any kind very readily, and all together they created a constant pressure on him not very different from that created by the insistent dead on Odysseus— too much to handle very neatly except in a single poem or passage. M.L. Rosenthal. Paideuma. Spring, 1977, pp. 4, 10–11 As the reader comes to know Pound’s poetry, he will increasingly recognize and go beyond the multifarious objects of knowledge that at first dominate the landscape of each poem, and he will become more interested in the poetic character of the presence, seer, protagonist who presents the data. The data are variously instructive, diverting, beautiful or awe-inspiring, and the patterns of emotion and moral value that they create are fascinating or rewarding. Eventually, however, it is the richness and quality of the mind, rather than the virtù of the objects it contains and which it salutes, that continue to fascinate and to instruct. It is only at first that Pound’s purism of surface and form seem clinically to exclude the presence of a known human speaker. . . . The Collected Shorter Poems can be . . . categorized by provenance or by form. As they are read through, volume by volume, in order of writing, a hardening of Pound’s sense of society and of the artist’s role in society is noticeable, especially in the modernization of his language in Lustra. When, finally, the early Pound is approached by means of such questions as, What does he have to say? What are his typical attitudes?—questions which do not seem often to have been asked—one notices a set of variations upon the 36 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE theme of the poet, singer, seer or sage—the friend of nature, of beauty, of wisdom, of refinement—engaged in the study of beauty or society, or, more frequently, of both. The emotions are those of exile—aesthetic, ironic, elegiac or indignant. One speaks of emotions and attitudes rather than of thought, ideas or ‘‘message’’ in discussing Pound’s verse before Mauberley. . . . Emotion, indeed, is the origin and end of Pound’s poetry, despite his concern for ‘‘direct treatment of the ‘thing,’’’ objectivity, technique, and despite his surgery of rhetoric and gush. What Pound ‘‘has to say’’ is ‘‘the world is thus and thus’’; but what he communicates is always emotion and attitudes charged with emotion. . . . The greatness of the Cantos is concentrated in the Pisan Cantos, though it is liberally scattered elsewhere. Only in the Pisan Cantos do the unerring rightness of style and the refinement of phrase have a great job to accomplish, namely the survival of the author’s mind, with its extraordinary freight. Not that Pound becomes confessional or emotional—the pathos is largely inadvertent—it is simply that he has so much to tell us and himself, and a great number of interesting things going through his head, as he watches the guards, the clouds and the insects. . . . The tendentiousness and unevenness of some of Pound’s achievement make it difficult to settle squarely on a tolerable generalization about his place among the poets; he is perhaps the greatest of the moderns, since that term does not exactly fit Yeats, nor the Eliot of Four Quartets. However, his Promethean gifts are so original that the process of comparison with others does not seem very productive; perhaps he should not be placed among others. Michael Alexander. The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound (Univ. of California Pr., 1979), pp. 43, 47, 227–28 In spite of Pound’s ‘‘mystical ear’’ (to borrow Williams’ phrase) for the invention of new musical and rhythmic patterns, it is the daring confidence with which The Cantos are able to absorb so much prose narrative and historical documentation that remains one of their most decisive technical accomplishments. Pound himself realized that upon such a strategy depended poetry’s chance to ‘‘donner une idée claire et précise,’’ and thus to compete successfully with the novel as a significant medium for the expression of social, psychological, and historical judgments. . . . It is part of the continuing fascination of Pound’s work that it compels us to confront its ideas, including the ‘‘wrecks and errors,’’ as deliberate social and historical judgments, just as it is part of the epic’s aesthetic technique to base much of its rhythm on the inclusiveness of the ‘‘prose tradition.’’ Ultimately, it is from Pound himself that the right to question the polemical content of his work on its own terms derives, since few poets have argued as forcefully against the aesthetic as a category necessarily distinct from and indifferent to the social and political spheres of human cognition. Yet I know that my own focus of attention has at times caused me to leave insufficiently analyzed those aspects of the poems, the syntactic and metrical inventions, the audacious use of patterned sounds and images, which attracted me as a reader long before questions of ethical sense or historical argument began to impose their own pressures. In many ways it would have been easier to write a quite different book, one concentrating far more exclusively upon the immediate aesthetic appeal of all three epics, but such an undertaking would undervalue just those features that separate The Cantos, Paterson, and The Maximus Poems from
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE traditional lyrics, and impose a perspective that risks excluding the texts’ specific intentions and governing conventions from scrutiny. Michael André Bernstein. The Tale of the Tribe: Ezra Pound and the Modern Verse Epic (Princeton Univ. Pr., 1980), pp. 279–81 Of the four great American Moderns, Pound was the only poet to believe in what we now call ethnopoetics—the coupling of anthropology and poetry, the opening up of other, nonwestern cultural traditions—both as method and metaphor. In the Pisan Cantos Pound was fighting not only for his own personal survival, but for the survival of the Western world as well. For survival, he knew that the industrial West had to turn to cultures which were based on values other than that of profit, and ideals other than that of the economy of abundance with its concomitant disposable and interchangeable objects, its scorn of both masterpiece and craft. He turned to Provence and to Greece, but more significantly he turned to China, and Africa, and even, occasionally, to the American Algonquin. Thus, to dwell on Pound as exile, as directing his major effort toward breaking the English tradition, represented by the pentameter, is to belittle his achievement. Pound was not so much an exile as he was a citizen of the world. . . . [His] belief that the province of poetry is ‘‘the whole social order’’ is Pound’s great strength, his source of optimism, and one of his major contributions. We have him to thank for his persistent affirmation throughout the first half of the twentieth century, a period in Western history preoccupied with its ‘‘heap of broken images,’’ of the possibility of a ‘‘new sacred book of the arts,’’ as Yeats called it. A sacred book which would heal the splits in culture, remove, in effect, the banks from the position of power and place the artists in the position of authority. . . . The wisdom of the Pisan Cantos is the wisdom of one wise old man, Pound, who himself understands that we must listen to the wisdom of the old, internalize the old, and not fall prey to the tradition of the new (which is an economics of consumption and waste on all levels). ‘‘Philosophy is not for young men’’ . . . Pound wrote early in the Pisan Cantos. This is another way of saying that wisdom is reserved for, is the privilege of, the old. And as Simone de Beauvoir points out, the important thing to understand is that the status of the old is ‘‘never won but always granted.’’ Kathleen Woodward. ‘‘Last, the Real Distinguished Thing’’: The Late Poems of Eliot, Pound, Stevens, and Williams (Ohio State Univ. Pr., 1980), pp. 92, 95–96 The Cantos may be incomplete, may contain errors, may be a rash attempt at epic in an age of experiment. It may be too bulky, too obscure, too idiosyncratic. Despite Pound’s remark about Buckminster Fuller’s similar geometric (or geodesic) vision—‘‘‘Buckie’ has gone in for structure (quite rightly) / but consumption is still done by animals’’ (Thrones 97)—it may be too schematic. Such details as building the Constitution and measuring out the form of a civilization in one sense constitute an infernal machine that could have sunk Pound’s effort in I’esprit de géométrie. Certainly it made him a servant to his conception and to whatever his historical destiny might bring. He could alter his poem no further than by POUND shifting to the 120-canto alternative and selecting the proper subject that might come to hand. . . . Such weaknesses may be unavoidable corollaries of Pound’s strengths: of the scope of his subject, of the necessary submission to its claims, and of such ethical qualities as energy, purpose, endurance, and faithfulness to an epic vocation that could hardly have been a more exacting mistress. Error, from simple errors of fact to the cataclysmic error of allying himself with historical fascism, may have been part of the cost of trying to realize the motive ‘‘To build the city of Dioce whose terraces are the colour of the stars’’ in a poem that might become ‘‘reading matter, singing matter, shouting matter, the tale of the tribe’’ precisely because he had made his life the vehicle for trying not only to perfect the vision but also to make it fact. He made himself not only the poet of many voices seeking to constitute the mind and life of the normal man wishing to live mentally active in a complacent era, but also the champion of ‘‘these simple men who have fought against jealousy,’’ of ‘‘the sensitive’’ (as he perceived Joyce when he first met him in 1920), of the artist-saint like Constantin Brancusi—both of what the simple heart feels and of what the intense mind does and might do. If he presumed to voice ‘‘The enormous tragedy of the dream in the peasant’s bent shoulders,’’ he did it by becoming ‘‘the last American living the tragedy of Europe.’’ Forrest Read. ’76: One World and the Cantos of Ezra Pound (Univ. of North Carolina Pr., 1981), pp. 436, 438 [Ezra] Pound, like Hitler, is a phobic personality. Almost from the very start, his work contains images of indistinct and contaminating creatures, alternately or interchangeably insects and human beings, but in either case representatives of a confused otherness, leaving their slimy trails on the face of the earth. Nor can one doubt Pound’s massive fear and hatred of the vague, the confused, the ambiguous, the undifferentiated, the unknown. His hero and model is Hercules, for whom the purpose of culture (as in Pound’s translation of Sophocles’ The Women of Trachis) is to assert, violently if necessary, clear demarcations—to banish chaos, to destroy monsters, to exercise the vague and incommensurable. Having chosen this Herculean task at an early point in his career, Pound confronts the same forms of confusing alterity which trouble the mind of fascism: the unconscious, the isolated self and conscience, the mystery of feminine nature, philosophical abstraction and speculation, metaphysics, the transcendental spirit, the world of microbes—a vast forest of uncertain meanings and ideas in which Pound himself is lost and from which he must escape. Pound turns to fascism because he shares not only its deep fear of indeterminacy but also its central desire, which is to banish the indeterminate from social life and the mind of man. As in fascism, in Pound’s work the ultimate sign of such fearful indeterminacy is the Jew. A symbol of virtually every from of dangerous otherness— the threat of disease, labyrinthine inwardness, instinctual passion, the vagina dentata, a plague of vermin, satanic magic, divine violence—the Jew is by projection Pound’s very embodiment of confusion itself. It is he against whom Pound unleashes his Herculean rage, as if to destroy in the Jew his own confusion. In Pound as in fascism, the projection of evil and socially undesirable qualities onto this familiar/foreigner has the same function and effect: no longer himself but a ‘‘plastic demon,’’ an 37
    • POUND unquestioned symbol of monstrous otherness and frightful indeterminacy, the defenseless Jew is the most likely and obvious candidate for scapegoating in periods of social upheaval and undifferentiating violence. Despite the centrality of the Jew in fascist ideology, antiSemitism by no means exhausts the fascist implications of Pound’s work. For if throughout this book we have tried as much as possible to avoid relying on simple ideological schemata and categories, seeking rather to convey the uniqueness of Pound’s mind and language as of his political development, we have shown that much of his thinking on politics, society, religion, and culture repeatedly falls within the typology of Italian and German fascism. This is true of many Poundian beliefs and values which critics do not generally consider fascistic, and which they prefer to treat separately or else apolitically—Pound’s antimonotheism, his reverence for the concrete and natural manifold, his emphasis on hierarchy, his suspicion of abstraction and transcendence, his glorification of myth and ritual, his agrarianism, his patriarchy, his antifeminism, his solar religion, his abhorrence of usury, to give only a few examples. All of these taken together form a typical, mutually reinforcing fascist constellation. To treat them in isolation, without regard for their political implications and their interconnection with the whole of Pound’s thought, is to place them within a partial perspective and to distort their full ideological significance. [Massimo] Bacigalupo is entirely correct when he describes The Cantos as ‘‘the sacred poem of the Nazi-Fascist millennium.’’ Robert Casillo. The Genealogy of Demons: Anti-Semitism, Fascism, and the Myths of Ezra Pound (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1988), pp. 327–28 I think the best way of reading (the only way really to redeem) The Cantos themselves is by reading them as unintended—or better perhaps subintended—parody. [Pound’s] magnum opus, I am suggesting, is not a failed epic, though it seemed so to Pound’s most sympathetic advocate, T.S. Eliot, and, for that matter, even to him, who when near his death spoke of the long poem at which he had labored for so many years as sbaglioto, botched, a mistake from the start. It is rather a mock epic, an anti-epic, a comic travesty of the genre, and consequently (as I would dearly love to believe that at some level he suspected) a joke on himself as well as on the latterday pious Poundolators who do not realize as much. What else are we to make of the passage in Canto 41, in which he approvingly quotes the comments on a sample of his work by Mussolini: ‘‘Ma gusto’’ / said the boss ‘‘è divertente’’ (the adjective, of course, means ‘‘amusing,’’ not to be taken seriously); then he adds, ‘‘catching the point/before the aesthetes had got there.’’ After such a warning, how can ‘‘the aesthetes’’ still read The Cantos with a straight face? Had Pound not revealed his not-sosecret parodic intent, even before the fact, as it were, in the title of any early poem, which travesties the famous opening line of the Aeneid, ‘‘Famam Librosque Cano.’’ This warns us clearly enough, does it not, that he sings, will continue to sing, not like his Latin model, Arms and the Man, Warfare and the Hero, but Fame and Books, which is to say, making it by producing literature about literature, a scarcely heroic—though diverting—theme. The Cantos, moreover, not only lack a heroic theme; they lack a heroic protagonist as well. Indeed, they have no proper protagonist at all, not even a parodic one. For a little while, in the earlier Cantos, 38 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Odysseus promises to play such a role. He is ironized from the start, however, by the fact that he appears not in a text translated by Homer, but the English version of a Renaissance Latin crib of the original, thrice removed from the original. And even this ghost of a ghost of a ghost soon fades from the scene, or rather, persists only in echoes of the false name Odysseus gave himself as part of his bloody practical joke on the Cyclops. ‘‘Ou tis’’ is that name, No Man, Nobody, an appellation nearly anonymous, and therefore fitting for a poet without a proper persona or voice of his own. What we hear in The Cantos is, finally, Nobody talking in garbled and half-understood tongues about a world in which, culture having become Kulchur, nothing matters. Consequently, despite all the references, literary and historical, the allusions and quotations, the dropped names of the living and the dead, the selfannihilating Cantos are about Nothing at all. Leslie Fiedler. ‘‘Pound as Parodist.’’ In Marcel Smith and William A. Ulmer, eds. Ezra Pound, the Legacy of Kulchur (Tuscaloosa: Univ. of Alabama Pr., 1988), pp. 142–44 The Cantos is about Pound’s efforts to master Western history. While his definition of an epic as ‘‘a poem including history’’ or ‘‘a poem containing history’’ is deliberately reductive, it nonetheless testifies to a fundamental conviction, that the epic poet works to fashion a poetic form that can contain what we normally think of as the concerns of history. In fact, as my study demonstrates, the chief problem of the epic in the modern world is the problem of form: how can poetry confront, include, provide meaning to, and thus master the violent and complex world of history?. . . This demand for the epic to master history is the primary impetus to Pound’s search for a principle of organization and unity. Pound’s definition of the epic as a long poem containing history can be understood as a call for a ‘‘major form’’ capable of ‘‘containing’’ the enormous array of material in ‘‘history,’’ which is understood by Pound primarily as records from the past capable of representing that past to the present. This major form, which [David] Pearlman defines as ‘‘an over-all design in which the parts are significantly related to the whole’’ lies in the figure of Pound’s composite wanderer, who, standing for the poet himself, confronts all sorts of records from the past and hopes to have them cohere through the strength of his personality. We should not be surprised that The Cantos undergoes striking and significant changes in direction and purpose when we recall that the poem defines a journey almost fifty years in the making. As he changes his understanding of the nature of his journey, his understanding of history and of his role in the historical process undergo several large shifts and a number of smaller adjustments. Pound devises his composite wanderer as his organizing principle in order to announce these changes and provide them with a rigorous sense of meaningful development. We can read The Cantos as an organized and perhaps even unified whole only if we grasp how this wanderer is made to function in every aspect of the poem. Stephen Sicari. Pound’s Epic Ambition: Dante and the Modern World (Albany: State Univ. of New York Pr., 1991), pp. ix, 15–16 One of the most politicized anti-Semites of the twentieth century was Ezra Pound. His major accusation against the Jews was that
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE they were out to substitute Jewish for Christian values, thereby destroying the world. This theme was expressed in more than one hundred twenty wartime broadcasts Pound made on the Rome Radio. England, France, Russia, and the U.S.A. were ‘‘under yid control. Lousy with kikes.’’ Jews were ‘‘rats,’’ ‘‘bedbugs,’’ ‘‘vermin,’’ ‘‘worms,’’ ‘‘bacilli,’’ ‘‘parasites,’’ who constitute an overwhelming ‘‘power of putrefaction . . . rot[ting] EVERY nation he has wormed into.’’ He saw the Talmud as ‘‘AIMED specifically at the destruction of all nonkike order. It is a dirty book. . . . Out of it came the determination to ruin Europe, to break down Christianity.’’ His solution to the Jewish problem mimicked that of Hitler. He insisted that a few hundred American Jews and F.D.R. should legally be hung for their crimes: later in the same paragraph he impatiently insisted that ‘‘all the kike congressmen’’ should be bumped off without delay. He called for a Judenrein Europe: the ‘‘choice’’ was between ‘‘Europe and Jewry.’’ Robert Michael. ‘‘American Anti-Semitism.’’ Midstream. August/September 1991, p. 28 Insofar as Anglo-Hibernio-American Modernism was a movement, it was largely Pound’s creation; it is not too much to say that he was the only one of the figures we now call Modernists for whom the movement as such had any importance. Even those who refuse to honor Pound’s achievement as a poet can hardly deny the importance of his presence. If his lasting poetry were judged to consist only of the usual anthology pieces, it would still be accurate to call this period ‘‘the Pound era’’ simply because of his dynamic role—to use Eliot’s metaphor—as a literary catalyst. In fact there is no figure quite like him anywhere in literary history. Though he was actually a rather shy person, according to many of his intimates, the intensity of his aesthetic convictions led him to make friends, allies, and projects of almost the whole roster of contemporary artists and writers. He became in effect the best literary friend, successively, of William Carlos Williams, Ford Madox Ford, William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and James Joyce; later he befriended Ernest Hemingway, E.E. Cummings, and others. Though no feminist, he sponsored and catalyzed the work of the two preeminent women poets of the era, H.D. and Marianne Moore; he did his best to publicize all new talents in poetry even when he did not like them personally, as with Robert Frost and D.H. Lawrence. It would be shorter work to list those who were unaffected by his tireless efforts, for example Wallace Stevens, than those who benefited in one way or another. And though he was remarkably catholic in his tastes—from [Thomas] Hardy to [Jean] Cocteau—and never forced even devoted proteges to conform to his own ideology, he did give Modernism its essential character simply by his example and leadership. As early as 1916, someone as remote from his interests and milieu as Carl Sandburg could testify that anyone who wanted to think about modern literature had to take account of Pound’s work and activities, since he ‘‘had done most of living men to incite new impulses in poetry.’’ If some [whom] Pound briefly championed have faded in retrospect, such as Edgar Lee Masters, still his links to the giants of the age overshadow these. And to say so much is to say nothing of his relationships with artists like Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Francis Picabia, and Constantin Brancusi. Vincent Sherry. Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, and Radical Modernism (New York: Oxford Univ. Pr., 1993), p. 203 POUND BIBLIOGRAPHY A Lume Spento, 1908 (p); A Quinzaine for This Yule, 1908 (p); Exultations, 1909 (p); Personae, 1909 (p); Provenca (selected poems), 1910 (p); The Spirit of Romance, 1910 (c); Canzoni, 1911 (p); Ripostes, 1912 (p); The Sonnets and Ballate of Guido Cavalcanti, 1912 (tr); Cathay, 1915 (tr); Lustra, 1916 (p); Gaudier-Brzeska, 1916, enlarged ed., 1970 (b); (with Ernest Fenellosa) Certain Noble Plays of Japan, 1916 (tr); (with Ernest Fenellosa) ‘Noh,’ or, Accomplishment, A Study of the Classical Stage of Japan, 1916 (c); Lustra, with Earlier Poems, 1917 (p); Dialogues of Fontenelle, 1917 (tr); A Study of French Modern Poets, 1918 (c); Pavannes and Divagations, 1918 (e); The Fourth Canto, 1919 (p); Quia Pauper Amavi, 1919 (p); Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, 1920 (p); Umbra (collected early poems and translations), 1920; Instigations, 1921 (c); Poems, 1918–1921, 1921; The Natural Philosophy of Love, by Remy de Gourmont, 1922 (tr); Indiscretions, 1923 (e); Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony, 1924 (e); A Draft of XVI Cantos, 1925 (p); Personae (collected poems), 1926, rev. ed., 1949; A Draft of the Cantos 17–27, 1927 (p); Selected Poems, ed. T.S. Eliot, 1928; Ta Hio, 1928 (tr); A Draft of XXX Cantos, 1930 (p); Imaginary Letters, 1930 (e); How to Read, 1931 (c); Prolegomena I, 1932 (c); ABC of Economics, 1933 (e); ABC of Reading, 1934 (c); Eleven New Cantos, XXXI–XLI, 1934 (p); (English edition, A Draft of Cantos XXXI–XLI, 1935); Homage to Sextus Propertius, 1934 (tr); Make It New, 1934 (e); Jefferson and/or Mussolini, 1935 (e); Social Credit: An Impact, 1935 (e); The Fifth Decade of Cantos, 1937 (p); Polite Essays, 1937; Culture, 1938 (e) (English edition, Guide to Kulchur); Cantos LII–LXXI, 1940 (p); The Unwobbling Pivot and The Great Digest, 1947 (tr); If This Be Treason, 1948 (e); The Pisan Cantos, 1948 (p); Cantos (1–71, 74–84), 1948 (p); Selected Poems, 1949; Section: Rock-Drill: 85–95 de los cantares, 1949 (p); Money Pamphlets, 1950–1952 (e); Letters, 1950; Patria Mia, 1950 (e); Translations, 1954; Literary Essays, 1954; The Classic Anthology Defined by Confucius, 1954 (tr); Women of Trachis, 1956 (tr); Thrones: 96–109 de los cantares, 1959 (p); Impact, 1960 (e); A Lume Spento and Other Early Poems, 1965; Cavalcanti Poems, 1966 (tr, e); Pound/Joyce, 1967 (letters, e); Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX–CXVI, 1968 (p); Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX–CXVII, 1969 (p); Confucius, 1969 (tr); Selected Cantos, 1970 (p); The Cantos [1-117], 1970 (p); The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot, 1971 (annotations); Selected Prose 1909–1965, 1973; Letters, 1974; Collected Early Poems, 1976; Ezra Pound and Music: The Complete Criticism, 1977; ‘‘Ezra Pound Speaking’’: Radio Speeches of World War II, 1978; Letters to Ibbotson, 1979; Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts, 1980 (c, e); Pound/Ford: The Story of a Literary Friendship, 1983 (letters); Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters, 1909–1914, 1984; Literary Essays, 1985; Pound/ Lewis: The Letters of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, 1985; The Cantos of Ezra Pound, 1986 (p, Cantos 1–117); Ezra Pound and Japan: Letters and Essays, 1987; Pound—Zukofsky, 1987 (i); Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910–1912, 1988 (l); Pound/ ‘‘The Little Review’’: Letters to Margaret Anderson, 1988; (with Rudd Fleming)Elektra: A Play, 1989 (tr); Personae: The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound, 1990 (rev. ed.); Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 11 vols., 1991 (misc); The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound to John Quinn, 1915–1924, 1991; A Walking Tour in Southern France, 1992 (t); The Letters of Ezra Pound to Alice Corbin Henderson, 1993; Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters, 1994; Ezra Pound and Senator Bronson Cutting: A Political Correspondence, 1995; The Cantos, 1996 [complete 39
    • POWERS ed., paper] (p); Machine Art and Other Writings: The Lost Thought of the Italian Years, ed. Maria Luisa Ardizzone, 1996 (e); Pound/ Cummings: The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and E.E. Cummings, ed. Barry Ahearn, 1996; Pound/Williams: Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, ed. Hugh Witemeyer, 1996; Ezra and Dorothy Pound: Letters in Captivity, 1945–1946, ed. Omar Pound and Robert Spoo, 1998; I Cease Not to Yowl: Ezra Pound’s Letters to Olivia Rossetti Agresti, ed. Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos and Leon Surette, 1998 POWERS, J.F. (1917–) Even though the expert technique of these stories is as unemotional and photographic as the later Hemingway, consisting mainly of placing the model in a good clear light and shooting, the collection as a whole leaves one with the impression that the author has a disciplined distaste for materialism and bullying, and that he believes that these two traits account for most of the frustrations and woes of contemporary man, whether in the church or out of it. Eunice S. Holsaert. New York Times Book Section. May 4, 1947. p. 20 He avoids the stereotyped two-dimensional layout, the affected obliquity which keeps everything on the same level, and the colorless neutrality which makes such an obvious pretense of ‘‘objectivity.’’ He is unabashedly inside his story, focusing on objects, catching nuances for us, and heightening the volume when he wishes. . . . His perceptions are interesting not only for their acuteness but for the mass of dense particulars which they penetrate. Henry Rago. Commonweal. Aug. 22, 1947. pp. 457–8 Of all modern writers known to me who have dealt with Catholic religious life J. F. Powers . . . is far and away the best. He has his own peculiar technique for handling the subject. Unlike the sentimentalists and satirists, he rarely glances at religion itself, as though it were a light too strong for his eyes. He is interested mainly in the pettiness and vulgarity of a mechanical civilization. . . . After the darkness of so much American fiction this book (The Presence of Grace) produces a peculiar shock of delight. Having lived with Mr. Power’s first book, Prince of Darkness, for some years, I can testify that it is not a delight that disappears as the shock diminishes. Powers is among the greatest of living storytellers. Frank O’Connor. Saturday Review. March 24, 1956. p. 22 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE glimpses and responses to a motivation that operates as an antidote—that is, there is a release from the pressure of self-interest, with the concomitant experiencing of compassion and even of love. George Scouffas. Critique. Fall, 1958. p. 42 What made these stories so remarkable was maturity. American fiction is always striking an attitude or being ‘‘psychological’’ or just reporting the violence of some unusual experience. Mr. Powers’s work was about a world; it constantly yielded literary vanity to the truth and depth of this world. He was subtle, funny, precise, and always unexpected. The book seemed to come out of a longer background than most young American writers of fiction ever own. . . . I admire Mr. Powers very much—story after story is worked out to the finest possible point; this is work that manages by fusing intelligence and compassion, to come out as humor. There is real love in his heart, but he knows that the heart does not write short stories, and that the beauty of grace can appear only against the background of the horrid daily element, which is gravity. Alfred Kazin. Contemporaries (Little). 1962. pp. 223–5 In this novel (Morte D’Urban), as in many of his best-known short stories, Powers writes about the Catholic Church with an air of great authority. He writes as an insider, though certainly not for insiders. The Order of St. Clement may be his invention, but it is as real as Yoknapatawpha County. Having created a little world of his own, with its particular beliefs and customs, he can write a comedy of manners. There are no dramatic incidents and no large issues, but we do have a quiet, steady revelation of character, a revelation superb in its subtlety and depth. . . . His faith permits him to look with tolerance on the foibles of good men and to recognize the virtues of bad ones. Granville Hicks. Saturday Review. Sept. 15, 1962. p. 21 It seems pretty generally agreed that Satire Is Dead. I’m delighted to inform you that you must revise your opinion, because J. F. Powers has written a book (Morte D’Urban) which is satire in the pure sense—not a symbolic action in the manner of Joyce or Kafka, not a psychological comedy in the manner of Kingsley Amis or Peter de Vries, though all these can be turned to critical ends—but a pure satire which will nevertheless please the most sophisticated literary tastes. Powers has done something quite remarkable: he has revived the satire of the Great Age—from Erasmus to Swift, let’s say, reverting to tradition—within a modern context of style and attitude. In fact, the stylishness almost—but not quite—obscures the point that his book is a classical satire against mankind based on the exploitation of types. Hayden Carruth. New Republic. Sept. 24, 1962. p. 24 Competitiveness is central in Powers’s work, whether he is using the secular world or the tight world of the Church. . . . The competitive agitation leads to a distinctive developmental pattern in Powers’s stories. Most typical is a centripetal movement that begins on the outskirts of things, with the inconspicuous, literal, mundane detail, and slowly whirls in toward a still point of revelation that in a sense negates all hierarchies. The protagonist is at least temporarily freed of the compulsion to maintain self, sees himself and others as victims of a condition endemic to humanity, 40 From the start, nearly twenty years ago now, when his writing began to excite the admiration of the readers of Accent, it was evident that the stories of J. F. Powers had a very special quality, a rare richness of theme and perception; and, for all their liberal zeal and satirical intent, often an even rarer gentleness of tone. . . . Powers’s theme remains truly haunting; it is one that might be framed as a question: how can the spirit express itself in nature
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE without compromise, without debasement, since one is so distant from the other, and each one is obedient to different laws? Again: can a mind manipulate its work in the world without becoming completely worldly itself? . . . Powers has found the formula for his fiction in all this. He regularly sees the priest in a worldly role. The necessity of this role makes Powers’s satire kind. The contradictions implied make his irony deep. PRICE those they contend against and try to tend and live with. Here, fully imagined, is the tragic and comic world where Father Urban lives within, above, and beneath his own and the Order’s scheme of values, forgetting and remembering and learning about the God who gives him rein and pulls him to heel. Harvey Curtis Webster. Kenyon Review. Winter, 1963. p. 167 William H. Gass. The Nation. Sept. 29, 1962. pp. 182–3 The characters in Morte D’Urban have the tangibility that real people have for us in those rare moments when the fog of abstraction and self-absorption lifts, and they come illuminated out of the fog with Powers’s rare combination of irony, sympathy and humor. . . . Yet the novel is not simply a gallery of memorable portraits; characters are revealed in action and interaction. Few writers today have as acute a sense of the drama of interpersonal relations as Powers has. . . . Morte D’Urban is not simply an anecdotal display of a central character by a writer whose ear for American speech is as good as O’Hara’s; in it character and theme are dramatized in a significant complex. . . . It is Powers’s version of that most Christian of ironies: the Fortunate Fall. John P. Sisk. Critique. Winter, 1962–3. pp. 101–2 Powers’s is a world of the living all too living, and only in such a world can the ethical consideration bear much weight. For the purposes of fiction, he effects a divorce between faith and morals. The question is not whether faith, in the measure his characters have it, makes them greatly better or greatly worse than those outside the fold. The question is whether those inside the fold can sustain the moral life at the level of average good will, self-respect, and taste. If this approach is necessary to Powers as a moral realist, it is also congenial to him as a story teller; and his love of narration in all shapes, sizes and degrees of seriousness is obvious. Stories within stories, ranging from rectory-table anecdotes through biblical parables to scraps of radio serials caught from the airwaves, thicken the fictional atmosphere. Each sentence tends to be an event; yet every event, like every firm but fluent sentence, is an open door into the next half-expected, half-shocking encounter. Thus does J. F. Powers coax stories out of the shabby rectories of his not altogether mythical Minnesota. F. W. Dupee. Partisan Review. Spring, 1963. p. 114 BIBLIOGRAPHY The Prince of Darkness, 1947 (s); The Presence of Grace, 1956 (s); Morte D’Urban, 1962 (n); Look How the Fish Live, 1975 (s); Wheat That Springeth Green, 1988 (n) PRICE, Reynolds (1933–) A young Southerner, Reynolds Price, has written an exceptionally fine first novel, A Long and Happy Life, and, all told, Mr. Price looks like one of the most promising talents to have emerged for some time. Mr. Price’s opening did put me off; the writing seemed lush, and I feared that this might turn into a light trifle of Southern sweet talk and honeysuckle. But very quickly it became clear that this was no purveyor of gossamer sensibility but a very sure and adult writer with a firm grip upon his materials. These materials are very modest. Mr. Price’s people are simple rural folk in North Carolina, and his plot is slight: the seduction of a young girl by her young man, his return to discover she is pregnant, his proposal of marriage, and her acceptance. But this slight thread of plot is so interwoven with all the textures of family life, and Mr. Price’s feeling for the girl and what passes in her mind is so sure, that by the time we have finished the book we have been involved in those major matters of life, death, and the dawning of truth upon the human mind that have always been the substance of great fiction. The book moves toward its close at a beautiful pace. And the ending itself—the girl, about to have her young man at last, sees her future life with him suddenly deflated and common, and yet she must go forward to that future—is a wonderfully sustained portrayal of a delicate shift in perspectives that can stand comparison with Joyce’s ‘‘The Dead.’’ Romance has been punctured, but what remains, though more troubled, is more human and moving. William Barrett. Atlantic Monthly. April, 1962, p. 160 The Prince of Darkness and The Presence of Grace, necessary preliminaries to Morte D’Urban, have few faults and present less of the big world than Powers’s novel. Morte D’Urban is not woven tightly; it overuses narrative bridges; it hurries its concluding section; it sometimes exhibits an overindulgence in clever ambiguities; its experiments with the play form within a novel achieve the partial success that calls attention to technical dexterity rather than to the heart of the matter. Yet these faults seem slight flaws as I think back over the experiences of reading the novel. Err though he may, Powers has gone on from the smaller provinces where a cat whimsically evaluates or outwits a priest, even beyond the short importance of a good Franciscan’s death with his ‘‘will amenable to the divine,’’ beautiful though it may be. Here is J. F. Powers’s large world, fully peopled with the Clementines he invented and Reynolds Price’s first novel, A Long and Happy Life (1962), was an unusually distinguished performance, as impressive in the lyricism of its style as it was in the renewed vitality he brought there to his time-worn theme (the fearful and immense complexities of human love). Amidst a spate of pornographic and programmatic novels, it stood out like a beacon of life and light or, at the least, a breath of fresh country air. Price was not afraid to narrate (something many of our fiction writers have either forgotten how to do or now disdain to do), nor was he afraid to retell one of the oldest stories in the world. Such, however, is not the verdict one must finally render on his second novel, A Generous Man. The story here is essentially the 41
    • PRICE coming of age, both sexually and intellectually, of Milo Mustian, older brother of Rosacoke Mustian, the heroine of Price’s first novel. . . . Furthermore, Price’s style, which seemed so powerful and moving in his first novel—shot through as it was with perceptions of natural beauty of the freshest intensity—seems to have degenerated here into a manner. His prose has become more modish, as his theme has become more muddled. A case in point is his fondness for the simple sentence with a simple subject but endlessly compound predicate, which has a certain hypnotic power but eventually becomes tedious and finally no substitute for a legitimate style which supports and reinforces the theme at every step. This novel is supposed to present, apparently, a dramatic rendering of an elemental human experience, one fraught with pain and peril, which all men must finally undergo. Its possibilities for beauty and drama are certainly endless; but Price appears content to give us a fifteen-year-old North Carolina boy, wise both in speech and in thought far beyond his years—more a suburbanite Ivy Leaguer than a country boy whose folks raise tobacco. When he lets North Carolina speak and act for itself, Price is on home territory and safe. When he tries to impose a false intellectual and stylistic sophistication on his native material, it will simply not support this factitious superstructure, with a resulting loss of clarity and power. For all his implications about the necessity of both give and take in human love, Price’s treatment involves largely the give and take of sex: his metaphysics becomes largely acrobatics. Finally, as Rosacoke remarks when Milo is discoursing on the dramatic events of ‘‘Death’s’’ escape, ‘‘Just call it a snake. I’ll know who you mean.’’ Price might have done better if he had followed this advice more closely himself. His talent is a very fine one. Let us hope that he will not further abuse it. Robert Drake. Southern Review. Winter, 1967, pp. 248–50 A Generous Man, perhaps better termed a romance than a novel, has suffered considerable indignities from reviewers and critics who have set it down as a playful allegorical quest for the great snake Death. That a part of the author’s intention slipped past undetected is not surprising: Price’s observation that he let the name Death ‘‘become one more nail in the coffin I was building for the great Southern hunt’’ might well come as news even to the attentive reader. Nature, the importance of man’s relationship to nature, or, put another way, man’s being a natural creature, shows not in the guying of such mythicized solemnities as the hunt but rather in a sense of place radically altered from the one communicated in A Long and Happy Life. . . . Price’s more recent novel, Love and Work, offers variations on and apparent contradictions to the thesis that the point of contact of man and nature, as of man and the supernatural, is important and may be crucial—that its informed perception could and does change whole lives. . . . Nature of any description is little in evidence in Love and Work, the focus turned inward, the protagonist self-absorbed, living life at second hand or attempting to recreate it in charming vignettes of his parents’ meeting and courtship, which his wife, who knows him, sets down as ‘‘easy lies’’. . . . Price clearly espouses no program after the manner of the Agrarians. In his fiction the naturalistic perspective receives no adherence; the pastoral mode, in so far as the term describes his first novel, was a point of departure. . . . 42 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE Price [is not] a Romantic, for he has already shown that the ‘‘literally human qualities’’ of life are best grasped, interpreted, and communicated in and through a place where man’s status as created and creating being, where his amphibian nature and the more constant spectacle of his fall from grace, irresistibly present themselves. Allen Shepherd. Critique. 15, 2, 1973, pp. 86, 92–94 When a work of fiction as compelling and original as Reynolds Price’s latest novel [The Surface of Earth] comes along, it deserves evaluation in its own terms. Why should the reader worry if, in its relatively straightforward narrative, its rich, rhythmical and rather formal language and its brooding obsession with family as a kind of fate which a child must come to terms with before he can be free ‘‘to walk clean away into his own life,’’ it seems to be out of step with the march of most contemporary fiction? More important is the fact that it meets what seems to me the supreme test of a novel: it manages to recreate a world and people it with characters as complex and stubbornly mysterious as those in life, and it draws the reader into that world—sensually, emotionally and intellectually—to the point that he experiences those lives and earns whatever insights may be gained from them. In this, his longest and most ambitious novel, which took ten years of planning and three years of writing, Reynolds Price focuses on the harm that parents do, through the flawed choices, emotional failures and unsatisfied hungers they pass on to their children unto the third and fourth generation. Indeed, the biblical estimate seems conservative here when one considers that although the action begins in 1903 on the evening of 16-year-old Eva Kendall’s elopement with her Latin teacher, Forest Mayfield, the book opens with a conversation in which the Kendall children are drawing from their father details of their maternal grandfather’s suicide. (‘‘What’s shameful, sir, in wanting the truth?’’ Eva asks, ‘‘We’re all nearly grown. . . . It’s our own story.’’) And the novel ends, 491 pages later, with that suicide’s great-great grandson, Hutch Mayfield, struggling to put his heavy inheritance behind him. A narrow focus? Perhaps. But unquestionably an important one which takes the reader beneath the surface of events into the interior world, even the unconscious world, of the principal characters. . . . Despite the book’s length and what begins to seem toward the end a plethora of explanations and confessions from the characters themselves, the narrative remains, on the whole, surprisingly succinct, displaying Mr. Price’s gift for catching whole landscapes in a few images, whole characters in a few telling gestures or fragments of talk. And what a luxury it is to be immersed in his majestic prose. There is, however, a static quality to the novel as fragments of human experience are seized and held for microscopic observation, then analyzed at length from shifting points of view in dreams, in letters and in endless talk. This quality is suggested in the Blakelike image which the author has designed for the jacket of the book—a fixed sun face gazing with an intensity that threatens to burn through surfaces to the mysteries beneath them. . . . Although this powerful novel seems in the end to be overweighted with wordy explanations of the emotional demands, debts and failures that constrict the Mayfields’ and the Kendalls’ lives, it represents a leap forward by a gifted novelist into visionary territory which few of his contemporaries have the courage to
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE explore, territory which, if conquered, can yield the hard-won wisdom of the human heart. Everyone who is interested in serious fiction ought to read it. Anne Hobson Freeman. The Virginia Quarterly Review. Autumn, 1975, pp. 637–39, 641 Complexity may be of several types, not all of which are constructive or ultimately enriching to narrative. But in Price’s novels one particular type of complexity, which he calls ‘‘dialogue’’ . . . does enrich his narrative; in fact Price’s technique of ‘‘dialogue’’ equips his novels to speak on the multiple levels on which his listeners need narrative. Price’s long and complicated novel The Surface of Earth is his most recent and most successful experiment in this kind of narrative. By quoting from Augustine’s Confessions in the epigraph, Price initiates a dialogue that not only results in the enhancement of the theme, but is, in fact, the way the novel is finally told: a long and often fierce debate with Augustine. Complexity, then, is not to be found solely in what abstract statement might be made after the novel is read. It is to be found in the nature of narrative itself. Invoking Augustine enables Price not only to talk about motion and rest as powerful shapers of human life but also to use them as elements of technique. The Confessions, echoing through the small but deliberate aperture of the epigraph, gives The Surface of Earth the capacity to generate an intelligible and complex world. . . . The complex design of The Surface of Earth invokes Augustine as the great archetype of the human consciousness troubled in its very humanness. In the lives of three characters, seen in crucial moments, Reynolds Price answers Augustine’s model with one of his own. In a ‘‘strong personal vision and voice,’’ The Surface of Earth rings many changes on immense themes of the nature of mortal consciousness, of love, of the self, of life in motion. Price’s accomplishment in the novel is the more amazing because he achieves multiple meaning for his characters, settings, and incidents without emasculating them with allegory. Through the novelist’s faithful acts of attention, and through those of his characters, The Surface of Earth, from epigraph to Rob’s final laugh, insists upon life as the primary experience. Theories, ideas, abstractions, and interpretations of life are appropriately secondary—risky departures from the ground of human existence, the surface of earth. Michael Kreyling. Southern Review. Autumn, 1980, pp. 853–54, 867–68 A fifth novel by an author who won fame with his first book, A Long and Happy Life, published nearly 20 years ago, The Source of Light continues a family saga begun in The Surface of Earth (1975). And there’s much to admire in its pages. Reynolds Price has an unplodding imagination. . . . The Source of Light is a 300-page narrative wherein absurdist savagery has no place and the idea of gentleness as a value isn’t once mocked—which is to say, it’s a rarity. It’s not, though, speaking bluntly, a compelling or exciting work of fiction. One failing is that the novelist merely assumes that the question whether his hero quits Europe or stays is momentous, but never demonstrates that it is. I was troubled too, by Price’s difficulty in finding distinct voices for his characters. Nearly everybody in the book—from Southern preppies to Dilsey-style PRICE servants, to Oxford stonemasons, to liberated American women— speaks a lingo best described as Southern-clever-wry, and in time the sameness of the speech becomes disconcerting. Finally there’s the Faulkner problem. Significant differences exist between Hutchins Mayfield and Faulkner’s young masculine heroes—and between Faulkner’s old people and Price’s—and between Faulkner’s literary allusions (the Bible and Keats) and Price’s (the Bible and Shakespeare)—and between Faulkner’s conviction of the uniqueness of the Compsons and Price’s conviction of the uniqueness of the Mayfield clan. But while the differences exist, I’m afraid they’re not as noticeable as the resemblances. The overall impression left is that of a fictional world rendered indistinct by the spreading shade of the great Faulkner tree; no action or person or style of utterance quite manages to achieve energetically independent being. Dignity and intelligence are always visible in The Source of Light; what’s missing is the quality of freshness and surprise that makes novels novel. Benjamin DeMott. Saturday Review. April, 1981. p. 72 The good hearts of Reynolds Price’s novels live by stories. By day his narrators offer stories to listeners as nourishment, admonition, and entertainment, while at night they continue to create fictions in their own dreams. They read tales in letters and diaries and, like the resilient Kate Vaiden, may even record family history to trace the design of a life’s masterplot. Although Price has celebrated this vital passion for narrative as typically Southern (Common Room 168), he also hears in his regional tradition the telling sign of a universal hunger. In ‘‘A Single Meaning,’’ his preface to translations from Jewish and Christian Scripture, he explains that the ‘‘root of story sprang from need—need for companionship and consolation by a creature as vulnerable, four million years ago and now, as any protozoan in a warm brown swamp’’ (Common Room 249). As Price listens to the story of all stories in Genesis, Adam first speaks not to assert his authority over beasts and birds but to search for an end to his aloneness, to find the fit helpmate that he lacks. The descendants of Adam and Eve continue to yearn for such solace. Price speculates that primitive men and women told stories as a way of opposing the chaos around them. By revealing patterns in nature—phases of the moon, cycles of growth, alternations of seasons—such proto-narratives eased the daily struggle to survive through acknowledging predictable sequences around which a stable, understandable life could be built. Once apparently random happenings now became part of a grander plot unfolding in time. As questions about what-happened-when inspired conjectures about why it happened at all, chronology led backwards to etiology and theology, to the venerable tales of myths. Since Adam, the first narrator, Price’s story-telling humanity seeks ‘‘credible news that our lives proceed in order toward a pattern which, if tragic here and now, is ultimately pleasing in the mind of a god who sees a totality and at last enacts His will. We crave nothing less than perfect story’’ (Common Room 249). Having found his greatest satisfaction in the narratives of the Old and New Testaments, Price has sought to intimate the story par excellence in his own fiction. Gary M. Ciuba. ‘‘Price’s Love and Work: Discovering the ‘Perfect Story,’’’ Renascence. Fall, 1991, p. 45 43
    • PROULX In the year when both his Collected Stories and a collection of plays have been published, Reynolds Price provides his readers with the opportunity to witness his evolving perspectives over the last three decades. More specifically, his collection of three plays [Full Moon and Other Plays] features protagonists who face personal failures and fears of betrayal as they struggle with their passions and their needs for transformation. Price’s avoid readers who fondly remember Rosacoke Mustian and Wesley Beavers from A Long and Happy Life (1962) and Good Hearts (1988) will especially welcome their return in Early Dark, an adaptation of the former work for the stage. Price, however, warns readers that his view of the story has changed from the ensuing years. In both his first novel and his first play, Rosa struggles with the transition from childhood to womanhood and hopes that her love for Wesley will prove adequate catalyst for change. . . . In the play’s version, . . . Wesley . . . accuses Rosa of turning herself against him ‘‘like a weapon’’ (94), and the playwright himself calls her misgivings about Wesley ‘‘her same child harangue’’ (65). Admirers of Rosacoke’s eloquence and sensitivity in Price’s novel will be surprised by the author’s harsher view of his heroine in the play. . . . Price has clearly grown more critical of how Rosa’s imagination creates expectations that hurt those she loves by pointing out how they fail to live up to her dreams. While Price’s perspective in the play is quite interesting, it also distances us from his most compelling character. . . . Full Moon, . . . Price’s most recent play (1993), demonstrates most strongly the implications these issues of love and betrayal have beyond the family. . . . In the final scene . . . both fathers remind the young couple that God will judge and severely punish privileged whites for their prejudice, gluttony, and national betrayal of blacks. Individually and collectively, these plays accrete power as they offer increasing evidence of the consequences that miserly love has in the family drama and outside of it as well. Their growing magnitude demands careful witness. Price’s building tensions and evolving perspectives will fascinate readers and theater audiences alike. MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ways they are redeemed—these may start to make this the book of a southern writer, but there is as much Sherwood Anderson here as Faulkner, and there’s another thing throughout the stories, the thing most appreciated perhaps, and that is Reynolds Price’s ability to infuse his stories with candor, a simple but powerful sense transcendent fiction has that confronts, invades the reader with the knowledge that if one sits at the table long enough with this writer he’s going to show all his cards, unexpected as they may be, and in a beautiful way make something true. Ron Carlson. Southern Review. Spring, 1994, pp. 371–72 BIBLIOGRAPHY A Long and Happy Life, 1962 (n); The Names and Faces of Heroes, 1963 (s); A Generous Man, 1966 (n); Love and Work, 1968 (n); Permanent Errors, 1970 (s); Things Themselves: Essays and Scenes, 1972 (e, d); The Surface of the Earth, 1975 (n); (with William Ray) Conversations, 1976 (interviews); Early Dark, 1977 (d); A Palpable God: Thirty Stories Translated from the Bible, with an Essay on the Origins and Life of Narrative, 1978; The Source of Light, 1981 (n); Vital Provisions, 1982 (p); Mustian: Two Novels and a Story [includes A Generous Man and A Long and Happy Life], 1983; Private Contentment, 1984 (d); Kate Vaiden, 1986 (n); The Laws of Ice, 1986 (p); A Common Room, 1987 (e); Good Hearts, 1988 (n); Clear Pictures, 1989 (b); The Tongues of Angels, 1990 (n); New Music: A Trilogy [August Snow; Night Dance; Better Days], 1990 (3 d); Lost Home: A Cleared Ring in the Blue Ridge Mountains; A Boy Aged Twelve, Now a Middle-Aged Man, 1990 (p); The Use of Fire, 1990 (p); Conversations, 1991 (r, i.e., interviews); The Foreseeable Future, 1991 (3 s); Blue Calhoun, 1992 (n); An Early Christmas, 1992 (s); Collected Stories, 1993; Full Moon and Other Plays, 1993 (d); A Whole New Life, 1994 (b, a); The Promise of Rest, 1995 (n); Three Gospels, 1996 (h, e, m, religion); Collected Poems, 1997; Roxanna Slade, 1998 (n); Learning a Trade: A Craftsman’s Notebook, 1955–1997, 1998 (m); Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides, 1998 (r) R.C. Fuller. Southern Quarterly. Winter, 1994, pp. 151–52 I have become certain of one thing in the last half-year: the rich collection of stories in The Collected Stories of Reynolds Price— the galley copy of which I have absolutely torn apart, used up, wrecked—will exist somewhere as a thread in the fabric of twentieth-century American literature. The fifty stories here were written over the span of almost forty years (though Price notes in his introduction that he wrote exclusively in other forms between 1970 and 1990), and half of them come from his earlier collections, The Names and Faces of Heroes (1963) and Permanent Errors (1970). Price has been known as a ‘‘Southern Writer,’’ and these stories for the most part would confirm that in their locale, in the situation of the characters (picking ticks, chewing snuff, eating hominy), and in that thing most often evoked by the name of Faulkner, that is a sense of familial mystery and loss—told in a form which many times overtly addresses its own identity as story. That last is exactly the kind of sentence which tries to bale fifty stories with one piece of wire, and it will not work. That ancient sins and secrets are hot for the characters in these stories, that the characters have a keen sense of regret which roils and simmers within them, an urgent need to testify, a fear of being damned and a stoic wonder for the 44 PROULX, E. Annie (1935–) An early traveler’s account of the Maritime Provinces says, ‘‘After but a year’s visit, one is convinced that the sea has a savage appetite for Newfoundlanders.’’ In E. Annie Proulx’s vigorous, quirky novel The Shipping News, set in present-day Newfoundland, there are indeed a lot of drownings. The main characters are plagued by dangerous undercurrents, both in the physical world and in their own minds. But the local color, ribaldry and uncanny sorts of redemption of Ms. Proulx’s third book of fiction keep the reader from slipping under, into the murk of loss. The novel, largely set in the village of Killick-Claw, along Newfoundland’s foggy, stormbattered coast, displays Ms. Proulx’s surreal humor and her zest for the strange foibles of humanity. The protagonist is Quoyle, who almost drowns once. Back in New York State, his marriage to Petal Bear had ‘‘a month of fiery happiness. Then six kinked years of suffering.’’ Quoyle, however, was smitten to the end. When Petal is killed with a lover in a car wreck, one of Quoyle’s first acts of mourning is to stick his head into the sudden cold weather of the refrigerator to cry. Quoyle, a
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE third-rate newspaper hack with a ‘‘head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair’’ and ‘‘features as bunched as kissed fingertips,’’ is left with two daughters, Bunny and Sunshine, ages 6 and 4 1/2. Soon Bunny is plagued with nightmares (of a snarling white dog) that match in intensity her father’s hallucinatory re-enactments of Petal’s grisly death. Life seems stripped of hope until Quoyle’s Aunt Agnis Hamm arrives. The aunt, as she is often referred to, regales Quoyle with stories of their Newfoundland ancestors; at once mesmerizing and disquieting, they draw Quoyle in, albeit with some hesitation. ‘‘Quoyle hated the thought of an incestuous, fit-prone, seal-killing child as a grandfather, but there was no choice. The mysteries of unknown family.’’ The grandfather had drowned at age 12, having already sired Quoyle’s father. Quoyle sets out for Newfoundland to find the ancestral house. Once there, Quoyle, his aunt and daughters find the dilapidated place, isolated miles down a barely passable road from KillickClaw, where Quoyle eventually finds work on The Gammy Bird, the local newspaper. Happily for the reader, Ms. Proulx keeps returning to the offices of The Gammy Bird. As Quoyle’s gypsy family moves from house to trailer, the office becomes his home base. There he meets the staff, true brigands of outback journalism. It is also where the pitch of Ms. Proulx’s writing is most finely tuned. There are, among others, Nutbeem, who steals foreign news from the radio; Tert Card, an estimable rewrite man; and Jack Buggit, the belligerent editor. Their spontaneous monologues, when spiced with the local patois, are wonderfully performed riffs of nostalgia, anecdote, indictment and complaint that strike us as Newfoundland’s most rollicking oral literature. The Gammy Bird specializes in sexual-abuse stories, and we get a file of them a mile high. Quoyle is assigned two beats. There is shipping news: a ship’s home port, time of arrival, time of departure, cargo, occasionally the antics of captain and crew. In a region of chronic unemployment, just to have these facts of commerce reported seems a kind of optimism. Ms. Proulx’s Killick-Claw is barely hanging on to the second half of the century. Far more disturbing is Quoyle’s other beat. As it is put to him by Jack Buggit: ‘‘We run a front-page photo of a car wreck every week, whether we have a wreck or not. That’s our golden rule. No exceptions.’’ Nutbeem observes: Have you noticed Jack’s uncanny sense about assignments? He gives you a beat that plays on your private inner fears. Look at you. Your wife was killed in an auto accident. What does Jack ask you to cover? Car Wrecks, to get pictures while the upholstery is still on fire and the blood still hot. He gives Billy, who has never married for reasons unknown, the home news, the women’s interest page, the details of home and hearth—must be exquisitely painful to the old man. And me. I get to cover the wretched sexual assaults. And with each one I relive my own childhood. I was assaulted at school for three years, first by a miserable geometry teacher, then by older boys who were his cronies. To this day I cannot sleep without wrapping up like a mummy in five or six blankets. And what I don’t know is if Jack understands what he’s doing, if the pain is supposed to ease and dull through repetitive confrontation, or if it just persists, as fresh as on the day of the first personal event. I’d say it persists. Claustrophobic winter arrives, locking in Killick-Claw, icing over the coves. As the harsh months go by, it seems that Quoyle is PROULX digging out from his own past. He deals compassionately with the last of his disreputable clan, a demented old cousin living in a hut ‘‘crammed with the poverty of another century,’’ by securing him in a rest home. Still fending off visions of Petal, he begins to court the all but silent Wavey Prowse, herself widowed by a drowning. He gets his children ensconced in school and deepens his knowledge and delight as a father. He seems for the first time calm in his heart. The children and aunt undergo difficult, healing transformations as well. Our sympathies are strongly invested in all of them, as well as in the village itself. Throughout The Shipping News, the sinuousness of E. Annie Proulx’s prose seems to correspond physically with the textures of the weather and sea. Her inventive language is finely, if exhaustively, accomplished. If I have any complaint it is that at times she carries her own brand of poetic compression too far: ‘‘Billy’s worn shape down to the bones, cast Quoyle as a sliding mass.’’ Weather off-shore or overland can often seem chokingly imbued with portentousness. Near the novel’s end, Jack Buggit sits up in his own coffin, spouting water, having both drowned and not drowned; it is a forced invention in a novel otherwise replete with wonderfully natural ones. Ms. Proulx is never too showy with her research, though The Shipping News is almost an encyclopedia of slang and lore. The way her Newfoundlanders talk, the most factual account seems as high-spirited as gossip over a supper of snow crab, cod cheeks, lobster salad and seal-flipper stew. Eventually, the actual house of Quoyle is blown into the sea, a drowned house. Yet by spring’s open water, Quoyle himself has not only survived but also drummed out some of his demons. In the end, it seems triumph enough that neither Quoyle nor Wavey has drowned. Howard Norman. The New York Times Book Review. April 4, 1993, p. 13. Novels of small-town life are an American genre that continually generates fine work. For a society obsessed with individual identity, America has a surprising love of those virtues that emerge only in a collective context. A British novel about returning to roots would be a theodicy, reestablishing hierarchies and fitting the protagonists into their preordained rank. But the best American novels of return show people creating, rather than finding, the niche that best fulfills them. [In The Shipping News,] E. Annie Proulx’s lumbering hero Quoyle was never much liked by his parents or siblings. He married Petal, who humiliated him with affairs, and has only become a halfway competent journalist because his best friend Partridge saw potential in him. When his parents die, he loses his job, and Petal dies in a car crash after selling their children to a child abuser, from whom they are retrieved physically untouched. Quoyle is open to suggestions about how he should endure the rest of his life, and his aunt drags him off to the family roots in Newfoundland. It will already be apparent that Proulx is not above throwing in the odd extreme. What follows includes storms at sea, premonitory dreams, decapitations, rescues and the resuscitation of a drowned man during his own wake. Perhaps even more improbably, the battered Quoyle acquires genuine dignity and worth by hard work at a job that he learns to love—turning the shipping news of a small local paper into a column taken seriously by other journalists. 45
    • PURDY Proulx’s triumph is that she makes us swallow all of this. Her work not only describes, but is imbued with, a chancy decency that looks us forthright in the eye and challenges disbelief. This is an artful novel. Proulx takes us to a land of myth—Quoyle is at one level the Holy fool who does not know how to ask the right questions—and urban legend, full of the things we want or fear to believe in. What risks being mere whimsy has steel behind it, because there is passion here and a real potential for tragedy. Petal died and was horrid, for all that Quoyle tried to love her. One of editor Buggit’s sons drowned and the other is obsessed with the sea even though he has nearly drowned once. Aunt Agnes lost her woman lover years ago to cancer and does not feel able to tell even Quoyle about it. There is precise intelligence, a sense of how small communities work and of how power is divided within them. Quoyle grows into responsibility because there is a vacuum in the community that needs him to fill it. The chapter heads come from a catalogue of knots; Proulx has the good sense not to avoid this potential crudity in her description of the ties that bind her hero to happiness. Roz Kaveney. New Statesman & Society. December 3, 1993, p. 39. Arguably one of the most exciting fictionists to come along in decades, E. Annie Proulx is hardly what one might call an overnight success. For nearly two decades, she worked as freelance journalist and was a writer of ‘‘how-to’’ books on assignment; meanwhile, stories bubbled inside her. They finally erupted in her first collection, Heart Songs and Other Stories. Set in a northern New England, a landscape that can only be described as ‘‘severe,’’ the nine stories gave evidence of greatness to follow. Their oddsounding names and battered conditions were simultaneously a mirror of the landscape and of Proulx’s own quirky humor. Heart Songs was followed by Postcards, a novel that won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In other hands Proulx’s decision to launch each chapter with a postcard tied to Loyal Blood, an aimless wanderer who serves as the book’s protagonist, would have been a disaster, but Proulx so integrates the furious pace of story with the dazzle of technique that the result seems at once aesthetically coherent and entirely effortless. Moreover, in documenting the decline-and-fall of a small American farm, one that had been in the Blood family for generations, Proulx was driving toward the very heart of America itself. Not that she preaches her message in an overt, editorializing manner; rather, her fiction dramatizes the particularities of a time and place with the fury of a gothic vision. Shipping News is also set in an essentially hostile environment: Killick-Claw, a remote coastal village in Newfoundland. Known for its sudden storms and icy seas, the setting seems as unlikely as the postcards faithfully reproduced in Proulx’s earlier novel. However, the saga of Quoyle, a hapless journalist who returns to his Newfoundland family home when his faithless wife is killed in a car wreck, serves as the springboard for an ambitious, multilayered novel. At the center of The Shipping News is both the column of maritime comings-and-going that Quoyle writes for The Gammy Bird (Prouxl’s hilarious send-up of a small town newspaper) and her protagonist’s ongoing effort to pull his life together. As Proulx’s delightfully quirky style makes clear, he has a long way to go: 46 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE [He had] a great damp loaf of a body. At six he weighed eighty pounds. At sixteen he was buried under a casement of flesh. Head shaped like a crensaw, no neck, reddish hair ruched back. Features as bunched as kissed fingertips. Eyes the color of plastic. The monstrous chin, a freakish shelf jutting from the lower face. As for The Gammy Bird, it specializes in car wrecks (‘‘We run a front-page photo of a car wreck every week, whether we have a wreck or not’’), sexual abuse stories garnered from the wire service, and the ‘‘shipping news,’’ the paper’s effort to spread the good news that commerce still goes on in Killick-Claw. Quoyle digs out of his disastrous past by digging into work and the strange community he encounters through it. Even more remarkable, what might have been the unrelenting tale of his perpetual loserhood takes a sharp turn at the end toward love. Not only does Quoyle’s unlikely column become an unqualified success (rather like The Shipping News itself, which won a Pulitzer Prize), but Quoyle finds himself ‘‘coiled’’ in the grasp of the community in general and of Wavey Prowse in particular. That he marries her at the end seems as magical—given Quoyle’s long history of estrangement—as Newfoundland. But that may well be Proulx’s point: darkness, even dark comedy, may not be the final word. Rather, Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat’s blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs with pain or misery. With only three books, Annie Proulx has convinced readers that she is simply not capable of writing unengaging fiction; and they are waiting impatiently for her to prove them right. Sanford Pinsker. In Contemporary Novelists, 6th edition, ed. Susan Windisch Brown (St. James Press, 1996). BIBLIOGRAPHY Sweet and Hard Cider: Making It, Using It, and Enjoying It, with Lew Nichols, 1980 (nf); ‘‘What’ll You Take for It?’’: Back to Barter, 1981 (nf); The Complete Dairy Foods Cookbook: How to Make Everything from Cheese to Custard in Your Kitchen, with Lew Nichols, 1982 (nf); The Gardener’s Journal and Record Book, 1983 (nf); Plan and Make Your Own Fences and Gates, Walkways, Walls and Drives, 1983 (nf); The Fine Art of Salad Gardening, 1985 (nf); The Gourmet Gardener: Growing Choice Fruits and Vegetables with Spectacular Results, 1987 (nf); Heart Songs, and Other Stories, 1988 (s); Postcards, 1992 (n); The Shipping News, 1993 (n); Accordion Crimes, 1996 (n) PURDY, James (1923–) James Purdy’s Malcolm comes to us with loud huzzas from Dame Edith Sitwell, Dorothy Parker and David Daiches. I’m afraid that Purdy loses rather than gains from these high claims; he is certainly
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE a writer of considerable interest, as his two previous books, 63: Dream Palace and Colour of Darkness, have already shown, but there is nothing in Malcolm, his best book so far, to show him to be anything but a most delightful but surely not yet major talent. One is reminded of the brittle comedies of Carl Van Vechten and, further in the background, the work of Ronald Firbank. Yet while I think the dominant note of the book is its playfulness, it does certainly have overtones of something larger. Mr. Purdy depends on a large imagination and a sharp wit—a wit which is sometimes moral and reflective and sometimes malicious. This, I think, divides the book, for one is uncertain of the solidity of the symbolic structure. Most critics have not made much of the symbolic purposes, preferring to delight in Purdy’s prose; and I cannot help feeling that they do this because the symbolism is largely fanciful, and provides structure as much as explanation for the book. It is best seen, I think, as a succession of loosely-knit episodes, each of them moral fables (fables in the Aesop sense) about maturity, and linked by the innocence and openness of the central character, Malcolm. Malcolm Bradbury. London Magazine. July, 1960. pp. 81–2 With the publication of Malcolm, James Purdy has left no doubt that he is a writer of integrity with a voice of his own. In America today, when most novels seem to be hurriedly manufactured with standardized patterns and interchangeable paragraphs, Purdy’s work stands out as something of a rarity. He also has a highly personal vision of his own—bitter, ironic, and grotesque. Perhaps it is this combination of qualities that reminds us of Nathanael West. In two short novels, Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust, West revealed more of the inner rot of the America of his day than several shelves of the naturalistic ‘‘political’’ novels produced by his more popular contemporaries. Similarly, Purdy, in Color of Darkness and in Malcolm, has said more in fewer words about the hunger and horror of our fragmented, business-cheapened life today than a whole chorus of best-selling, grey-flanneled voices from Irwin Shaw to Herman Wouk. Much of Purdy’s unusual achievement is made possible by his flat, bald style. It is precise and deceptively simple. He uses few of the rhetorical devices available to him in English; he is even sparing of adjectives and adverbs. In Malcolm especially his prose is terse, almost naked, sometimes matter-of-fact, dry. His individual voice comes through in a strange twist of a phrase here, an odd choice of a word there, and in a peculiar tension that vibrates from even his least tightly structured paragraphs. Paul Herr. Chicago Review. Autumn-Winter, 1960. p. 19 It is indeed a pleasant surprise to find that James Purdy can produce a compelling and compassionate picture of everyday life within the framework of [The Nephew]. . . . No one else could have written this version of small-town American life. For Purdy sees the familiar, the ordinary, with a vision that lies somewhere between that of Blake and Grant Wood. So his picture of the inhabitants of Rainbow Center is, naturally, with all its surface similarity, a far cry from either Main Street or Winesburg, Ohio. Richard McLaughlin. Springfield Republican. Oct. 30, 1960. p. 4D PURDY I think it undoubted that James Purdy will come to be recognized as one of the greatest living writers of fiction in our language. . . . It is extraordinarily difficult to review [Children Is All], because it is impossible to convey the subtlety, depth on depth, that lies beneath what Mr. Angus Wilson, writing of another of Mr. Purdy’s works, has described as his ‘‘magnificent simplicity.’’ . . . In his precision, avoidance of superfluity, vagueness or romanticism. Mr. Purdy may be regarded as a draughtsman. He has enormous variety. At least three masterpieces in this book, ‘‘Everything Under the Sun,’’ ‘‘Daddy Wolf,’’ and the almost unbearably anguishing play Children Is All, are studies in loneliness, but the movements in which that loneliness is conveyed are entirely different. . . . Children Is All is, to my mind, a sublime work of pity and tenderness. It could only have been written by a great writer. Edith Sitwell. New York Herald Tribune Book Section. Nov. 18, 1962. p. 6 I was startled when a perceptive friend of mine abroad wrote that Purdy’s first novel Malcolm struck him as ‘‘degenerate.’’ I had never thought of it as that; but the fact that I hadn’t may be simply a deplorable symptom that Americans are beginning to accept as normal the loveless state of affairs in which talk is incessant but communication non-existent. While there are few signs of truly human feeling anywhere today, elsewhere the educated may bear less resemblance than Americans to Purdy’s Fenton Riddleway, who ‘‘was able to accept nearly anything . . . the immense dreariness of things as though there were no other possibility.’’ The surrealistic world of Malcolm is degenerate, but what has made the novel popular is not that it makes this grotesque world appealing, but that it shocks readers into recognizing that it is unmistakably theirs. It is a vastly different matter whether a book’s degeneracy results from the writer’s offering an enticing escape from reality (as in Gone With the Wind or Lady Chatterley’s Lover or On the Road) or from his attempting to make us face unpleasant realities (as in Suddenly, Last Summer or Cards of Identity or The Sound and the Fury). Warren French in Essays in Modern American Literature, edited by Richard E. Langford (Stetson). 1963. p. 113 Among the many labour-saving devices employed by reviewers, one of the commonest is to discuss a writer in terms of his relationship with other writers, alive or dead, and to deduce the influences which have contributed to his style and technique. Applied to such a book as Children Is All, however, this method would be the reverse of labour-saving, for Mr. Purdy is not like any other writer I can think of, and the task of influence-spotting, in his case, would be an arduous and unrewarding one. In other words, he is a true original, and these stories seem to me quite startlingly effective. Mr. Purdy’s method is to spotlight a situation at the moment of its maximum intensity: what has led up to it is deftly and economically implied, usually by means of dialogue, and what comes after is left, as often as not (and sometimes most disquietingly), to the reader’s imagination. The stories have an admirable compactness, and Mr. Purdy never uses two words where one will do. He is also remarkably versatile, both in style and content; he can be witty, macabre, touching, and whimsical (in the best sense) by turns. In one of the best stories, a woman’s character is built up and 47
    • PURDY her weaknesses cruelly exposed merely through the random chatter of two female friends; the short ‘‘Sermon’’ is a devastating little piece, the preacher being, apparently, no less a person than God Himself. This collection also contains two playlets which, apart from the omission of ‘‘he said’’ and ‘‘she said,’’ read like the stories, which are themselves written almost entirely in dialogue. Jocelyn Brooke. The Listener. Aug. 15, 1963. p. 249 The terrible, destructive private self each one of us possesses, reflected in the suppressed violence of contemporary social life, is a central subject in the works of James Purdy. . . . Purdy shows us the ‘‘Nightwood’’ Djuna Barnes had to explain; he reveals the loneliness Marguerite Duras has attempted to elucidate, but without the latter’s cloying self-conscious approach. He never intrudes as he makes us see the desperation with which we live; and the objectivity of his observation finally extends to the furthest limits of grief. What makes Purdy’s stories so vital is the hard esthetic veneer in which he freezes the violent emotions his stories contain. . . . Because his style is so rigid and matter-of-fact, the reader, in Purdy’s characteristic device, is shocked as an apparently meaningless event in a character’s life reveals a tragic and irreversible truth. . . . Despite this hard ‘‘veneer,’’ Purdy is still capable of exploring innumerable and subtle gradations of character motive; and his unswerving eye for the small gestures of daily existence beautifully penetrates those most private recesses of feeling that few contemporary authors have been able to disclose. Jonathan Cott in On Contemporary Literature, edited by Richard Kostelanetz (Avon). 1964. pp. 498–9 It appears to be generally believed that James Purdy is an important American writer. The publication of his third novel, Cabot Wright Begins, offers an occasion for dissent. Purdy is a terrible writer, and worse than that, he is a boring writer. . . . The early stories are ineptly written, but several of them have a raw power that comes from Purdy’s imagining domestic hostility and potential violence as overt violence. Thus a son kicks his father in the groin, a husband beats his wife bloody at a party, a boy breaks the neck of his younger brother, and (in ‘‘Why Can’t They Tell You Why?’’, the best story in Color of Darkness) a mother drives her son literally mad. The later stories, in Children Is All, have lost even this power. In its place there is only verbal violence. . . . Ultimately, Purdy is neither a novelist nor a fiction writer. He is a social satirist, and a times a funny and effective one. The last third of Cabot Wright Begins suggests that he missed the true vocation for which his combination of passion and bad taste qualify him, that of sick comic. [1964] Stanley Edgar Hyman. Standards (Horizon). 1966. pp. 254, 256–7 Purdy is a naturalist of unusual subtlety and a fantasist of unusual clarity. . . . A wild, flailing, and finally hysterical attack on everything that bugs him, from The New Yorker to Miss Subways to Orville Prescott, [Cabot Wright Begins] is redeemed by a brilliantly controlled spoof on American sexuality and book publishing. . . . 48 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE The first two-thirds or so of Cabot Wright Begins is a rich, resonant, and deadly accurate satire on American values, as good as anything we have had since the work of Nathanael West. . . . Through a marvelously flexible and clearly drawn plot line, moreover, Purdy keeps the narrative steadily on the track of its subject. . . . It remains to say, of course, that a writer who takes on our culture today is hard put to maintain his wits amid the witlessness of his subject. But much of Cabot Wright Begins is evidence that it can be done, that the detachment and deliberateness of art still remain the best defense against the grotesqueness and biliousness that infect our mind. The main thrust of Purdy’s career has been to make us aware of this truth. Theodore Solotaroff. Book Week. Oct. 18, 1964. p. 3 Ten years ago James Purdy was, in the words of the composite kudos, a ‘‘young, bold, individual, arresting and irritating talent.’’ Today, four novels and three volumes of short stories later, he is considered part of the older new-guard in American fiction—a ‘‘voice,’’ but one that has lately been greeted by diminished bravos, at times cat calls. The critical hatchet job by Stanley Edgar Hyman (memorable, but somewhat in excess of even a purist’s obligation to the public) was a reaction partly prompted by Dame Edith Sitwell’s pronouncement that Purdy is ‘‘one of the greatest living writers in our language.’’. . . However Purdy’s original brilliance may have dimmed of late, however his inventiveness may have flagged, the feeling that he has said all he has to say . . . is not universally shared among critics. Like all writers obsessed by certain themes Purdy does repeat himself. Yet I suspect both the obsession and repetition are lodged in the impossibility of solving the problems he has set for himself through any single artistic coup. . . . Every character lives the myth of the isolated self, a stranger to himself and to others, locked in his own private hell that seals off the world outside. Robert K. Morris. The Nation. Oct. 9, 1967. p. 342 James Purdy with a Christian vision of love tells in 63: Dream Palace the story of ‘‘the least among us,’’ Fenton Riddleway, ‘‘dumb and innocent and getting to be mad,’’ and his little brother Claire, helpless, puny and seemingly feebleminded. To love them means to be shaken with pity and terror. It means to know utter despair, for there is nothing anyone can do to save them. They are doomed. The ‘‘least’’ in Purdy’s work is the exiled wanderer, abandoned in a strange world where nothing makes sense, where he can find no hold. Once he leaves his natural home, the golden bench of Malcolm, the West Virginia farm of Fenton, or Cousin Ida’s cottage of Amos Ratcliffe, he is Ulysses faced with monsters at every turn. But unlike Ulysses, he cannot slay them. If he is like Bennie of ‘‘Daddy Wolf,’’ with no money to spend, he doesn’t even rate a perforation on the program card. His auditors accuse him of lacking an indefinable something, of not having what it takes. What he lacks is the ability to be non-human. His humanity is his Achilles heel. He limps through life bleeding with every step he takes. Bettina Schwarzschild. The Not-Right House (Missouri). 1968. p. 1
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE The method for the stories [Color of Darkness] involves an unreal emotional dialectic between friends or among members of a family. Each confrontation results in a revelation of mutual desperation rather than resolution. The collection takes its title from the story of a man whose wife has deserted him. He suffers from an inability to remember the color of his wife’s eyes, or, indeed, those of his maid, Mrs. Zilke, or his son, Baxter. Existential darkness does not facilitate color discrimination. But more importantly this amnesia characterizes what I believe to be the keynote of Purdy’s work in the 50s—the impossibility of a rebirth in America. . . . Despite the desperate denunciation in the themes of these stories, a promise remains in their method. In order to present his vision, Purdy had to perform some magic with technique. The actions proceed within the crucible of irony. In each of these stories, Purdy grounds the decaying spirits of the characters in an animistic world. His stay in Mexico supplied him with a sense of primitivism he delicately balances with America’s cultural decadence. Donald Pease in The Fifties, edited by Warren French (Everett/Edwards). 1970. pp. 146–7 Mr. Purdy is and has been a fantasist, despite the creeping realism of some of his short stories. His writing is clearly an outgrowth of the uniquely American strain of comic-nihilistic fantasy which sprang from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s guilty Puritan nightmares and bloomed in the 1930’s at the hands of Nathanael West. Unfortunately, as satire has gradually been overwhelmed by the absurdity of mid-century life and this dark fantasy has spread and rooted itself in our art, Mr. Purdy’s fiction, shocking and revolutionary in the beginning, has come to seem conservative and familiar. . . . Purdy’s polymorphous-perverse sexuality, though it permeates [I America Elijah Thrush] as it does practically everything he has written, pales into ingenuousness next to the meticulous concupiscence of Establishment writing. And in an era in which controversy seems to be the lifeblood of literature, Purdy eschews mention of politics, war and ecology, and handles the issue of racism with such a soft touch that one is scarcely aware of the protagonist’s color. Robert Boyd. The Nation. May 15, 1972. p. 636 Imagine a critic whose preferences and prejudices when it comes to modern American fiction have been formed by a regular reading of, say, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer and John Updike—what might he be expected to say about a novel with the following scenario? The narrator is a young black, Albert Peggs, in love with a golden eagle; he becomes involved with an aging actor, ‘‘mime, poet, and painter’’ called Elijah Thrush, who is himself in love with his mute great-grandson. He also becomes the memoirist of an heiress, Millicent de Frayne, who stopped growing old in 1913 when she fell in love with Elijah Thrush. All four of these people, plus the bird, are linked together in a number of ways which takes the book far beyond the simply narrative. Albert’s account outlines the frightening (and comic) ascendancy of Millicent over all of them, a series of preemptive power plays which culminates in a funereal wedding banquet on board a ship at sea. Albert is last heard taking over, from the doomed Elijah, Elijah’s role in his theater. PURDY Our imaginary critic may well be tempted to dismiss it as perverse farce, a weird homoerotic daydream or nightmare, a frivolous and mannered piece of idiosyncratic surrealism, in all cases lacking the sort of pained ‘‘relevance’’ which he feels he can find among his preferred novelists. This, I fear, is how some American critics are going to receive James Purdy’s most recent novel [I America Elijah Thrush], of which the above scenario is a crude outline. Purdy has never, it seems to me, been done justice by many of the leading contemporary critics and one reason, it may be, is that they simply don’t know how to read his work properly. Tony Tanner. Partisan Review. Fall, 1972. p. 609 Malcolm, James Purdy’s first novel, was published in 1959 and has not suffered from want of acclaim. The praise has been richly deserved, for Purdy may be the most skillful black-humorist around. No one, however, has given Purdy credit for the full achievement of Malcolm. The novel generally is applauded for its wit, style, and deft handling of the disturbing themes of loneliness and lack of identity in the bizarre nightmare of modern existence. In addition, Purdy’s gift for sharp and sweeping satire rakes such targets as marriage, art and artists, sex, status, and adolescence. The last is a tempting critical morsel, for it makes the novel classifiable as a bildungsroman. Without question Malcolm is a story of a young man confronting adulthood, for initiation is its central theme. The novel has been called ‘‘an allegory of growing up.’’ However, Purdy has not written merely another novel of adolescence in a century already overstocked. Instead, he has offered us a sport on that type, using the genre to satirize it, with a wry approach to form as well as content. Viewed this way, the satire of an already cheerless book is deepened, and the blackness of its humor becomes more pervasive, more complete, and more grim. Charles Stetler. Critique. 14, 3, 1973. p. 91 Purdy’s major strength lies in his ability to take so-called repellent subject matter and so work with it that he turns it into a true work of art, much like the ugly driftwood which undergoes a change into something rich and strange when worked upon by a master. All this is accomplished in a style that is not only unique in its simplicity, but which is also characterized by clarity, force and beauty—the three chief qualities of good writing. In addition to Purdy’s ability to write unforgettable parables of the way Americans have lived in the past two decades, Purdy’s loveless view of life is rich in humor of various kinds—zany, ‘‘black,’’ surreal or quietly reflective. . . . Purdy’s . . . humor does not serve as a contrast to the dour actions that he usually narrates; instead, his humor is warp and woof of his style. . . . Purdy’s talent is a many-sided one; for, in addition to being an instinctive portrayer of the dark underside of human nature, he is also an excellent regionalist, as is seen in The Nephew, and a crack fantasist, as in Malcolm. Purdy’s ability as a satirist has already been dwelt upon in Cabot Wright Begins, but Eustace Chisholm and the Works reveals his strength as a Realist who depicts the tragic world of homosexuality. But Purdy has, in fact, created many worlds; and each with its own discernible and distinct features. Each of these worlds is populated with a host of characters: orphans, thoughtless and cruel parents, failed artists, budding 49
    • PURDY writers and actors, spinsters, grand ladies, teachers and professors, widowers and widows, financiers, homosexuals, and invalids—all of whom form a veritable gallery of typical figures of and for our time. Henry Chupack. James Purdy (Twayne, 1975), pp. 127–28 In a Shallow Grave is a modern Book of Revelation, filled with prophesies, visions and demonaic landscapes. . . . Purdy’s most recent novels, The House of the Solitary Maggot and I America Elijah Thrush, have been cranky, meandering exercises. The books tend to creak. They reflect in a sorry way the beautiful, ribbed dream world of Malcolm, Purdy’s first novel. [In a Shallow Grave] perhaps will bring to Purdy the wider audience he deserves. Written in a sparse yet rough-edged style, it indicates the dilemmas of Purdy’s writing. There have always been briers in his voice, as if he meant to tear at his readers with a kind of harsh music. Purdy is one of the most uncompromising of American novelists. Working in his own dark corner, he has collected his half-fables about a corrosive universe where children search for their fathers and are waylaid by endless charlatans and fools. The very awkwardness of his lines, that deliberate scratching of the reader’s ear, is Purdy’s greatest strength. It allows him to mix evil and naïveté without spilling over into melodrama and tedious morality plays. There are no ‘‘legitimate’’ people in Purdy’s novels, just fleshy ghosts like Garnet and Potter Daventry [in In a Shallow Grave]. Underneath Purdy’s brittle language is a sadness that is heartbreaking, the horror of isolated beings who manage to collide for a moment, do a funny dance and go their separate ways. Jerome Charyn. New York Times Book Section. Feb. 8, 1976. p. 3 Purdy’s literary career suggests the struggle of a dissenting individual voice to break through patterns of conformity. The earliest work was printed privately by friends and he was first published commercially in England. Though championed by writers such as Dame Edith Sitwell and John Cowper Powys, Purdy has never enjoyed the support or approval of the American literary establishment. Admittedly, when his work began to appear in the late fifties, its highly wrought style and proliferation of bizarre characters might have been expected to disturb popular critics who had ordained a diet of representational social realism with its ‘‘instant relevance’’. . . . The author’s distinctive formal and philosophic preoccupations need to be seen in a broader, more tentative perspective. Although it has an urgent bearing upon the present day, there is a timeless quality to his work. The avowed concern for the world of the spirit and its relation to language evokes the native tradition of Melville and Hawthorne with their passion for metaphysics and command of symbolist techniques. As might be expected, there is also an evident fascination with the hellenic age when speculations on human destiny were at an intense pitch. Purdy sees modern America as the enemy of the soul and would subvert the suffocating patterns its culture imposes upon the individual self by his own exemplary fictions. Thus his families and miniature societies are simultaneously the vehicles for an exploration of the national 50 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE psyche. At another level he re-tells, in his own special idiom, the Christian story of how a being charged with life’s spiritual or divine possibilities is denied kinship in the larger world. It is misleading, then, to insist on measuring the characters in such a drama by the criteria of social realism or by those of a strict psychological verisimilitude. They are projections of the inner life, put forward as hypotheses about existence and endowed with the reality of the author’s innermost convictions. Regarded in this light, art is accorded the highest functions—it keeps alive the memory of those ingredients that have been excluded from everyday existences and Purdy might more profitably be seen as the ‘‘memorialist’’ of the qualities that have gone missing from his native culture. He is the self-styled prophet and chronicler of its omissions. Stephen D. Adams. James Purdy (Barnes & Noble, 1976), pp. 7–9 James Purdy has the unmistakable voice and gently antiquated phrasing of a radio announcer. His stilted, lilting colloquialism infects each of his characters with a common tempera flatness of tone and gives his narration the rickety preciousness of a porch swing. The voice fits the timeless Midwest of Purdy’s best stories—and of his new novel, Mourners Below—the way Damon Runyon’s did Broadway; it cleaves to the rhythms proper to the world it creates, but keeps you aware, by its very pervasiveness, of the bemused, sardonic intelligence behind it all. Purdy may slip in references to ‘‘our town,’’ but his sensibility is more like Grant Wood’s; in the black humor of his artificial Americana, he seems sometimes as distanced as a puppeteer. That feeling’s reinforced by much of Mourners Below, an uneven, out-of-kilter, oddly satisfying novel. Though much of his best work was published before 1965, Purdy has recently been returned—however such things happen—to semivogue, with a selection of his stories available in paperback and the early novels Malcolm and The Nephew reissued in an omnibus edition by Viking. As if to commemorate his rediscovery, Purdy’s come up with a plot that’s disconcertingly like a super-imposition of those two works: the picaresque, slightly surreal adventures of an astonishing naif (à la Malcolm) add up to a self-revealing search for the truth about a boy killed in battle (à la The Nephew). The Candide here is Duane, at 17 the youngest, slightest, shortest, and most dreamily abstracted of the Bledsoes, known for his figure skating and childlike attention span, and mourning the death of his brothers Justin and Douglas in the (unnamed) war. . . . Purdy’s a master of the short story, and his best novels are brief and spare. Mourners Below comes in under 300 pages, but it’s studded with tempting tangents that often prove defects of structure. . . . Purdy winds up the novel with a deft change of scale; turning, by implication, the small end of the telescope on his characters, he transforms the grotesque and outlandish back into the mundane. In the context of history, after all, it was simply another Darwinian courtship dance. Casting shadows down the years, Purdy implies untold generations of Bledsoes, each scrambling for the survival of the next, visiting the shrines of women to secure their race of men. That makes them stubborn, heroic, hateful, foolish, and possibly doomed—much like any other family; the long view nudges Mourners Below past satiric contrivance and gives it, finally, life. Debra Rae Cohen. The Village Voice. July 22, 1981, p. 37
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE BIBLIOGRAPHY 63: Dream Palace, 1956 (s); Color of Darkness, 1957 (s); Malcolm, 1959 (n); The Nephew, 1960 (n); Children Is All, 1962 (s); Cabot Wright Begins, 1964 (n); Eustace Chisholm and the Works, 1967 (n); Jeremy’s Version, 1970 (n); I America Elijah Thrush, 1972 (n); The House of the Solitary Maggot, 1974 (n); In a Shallow Grave, 1976 (n); A Day after the Fair: A Collection of Plays and Short Stories, 1977; Narrow Rooms, 1978 (n); Two Plays, 1979; Mourners Below, 1981 (n); On Glory’s Course, 1984 (n); The Candles of Your Eyes, 1985 (s); The Brooklyn Branding Parlors, 1986 (p); In the Hollow of His Hand, 1986 (s); Garments the Living Wear, 1989 (s); Collected Poems, 1990; 63, Dream Palace: Selected Stories, 1956–1987, 1991; Out with the Stars, 1992 (n); Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue, 1998 (n) PYNCHON, Thomas (1937–) The book [V.] reads like a literary hoax, a parody of the quest romance and tale of international intrigue. We are made to witness violent happenings in Cairo, Florence, and Malta, explorations of the Antarctic and crocodile hunts in the sewers of New York. The fantastic web of events spans three generations, moving back and forth through space and time at will. The characters, as the author puts it, are mostly yo-yos. The style is elliptic and cockeyed, studded with zany names and improbable locutions. The whole novel gives an impression of studied confusion, a mood that expresses both the futility and vitality of human life. Ihab Hassan. Saturday Review. March 23, 1963. p. 44 PYNCHON alive in a chancy universe, are Mr. Pynchon’s alter egos: one quixotically pursuing the past in order to find the key to the future and the other doggedly holding on to the present, willing to let the future take care of itself. V. is rich and inventive, wide and various, overlong and uneven—and in a strange way highly eclectic. It seems, in fact, the apotheosis of the mid-century American novel: one of those loose, baggy monsters that have dominated our post-war fiction. Paul Levine. Hudson Review. Autumn, 1963. p. 459 Thomas Pynchon’s first book, V., published in 1963, established him as a virtuoso performer in fiction. There seemed to be nothing he could not render, no style he could not imitate. He had the structural gift as well, and an impressive command over the language of science and historiography. Part of V. took place at carefully imagined moments of crisis in European history. Part of it took place in contemporary New York Bohemia. Both parts dovetailed brilliantly into an allegory about how the search for the symbolic meaning of the past can ‘‘animate’’ the mind even as the mind’s world becomes progressively ‘‘inanimate’’ or dead. Maybe V. lacked the most important thing—some simple center of sincere feeling to cry out for a piece of us and want to be believed. But in 1963 one ignored this lack in favor of the novelist’s sheer inventive and structural power. In The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon’s theme and method remain essentially what they were in V., though the recent book is shorter, more deliberately whimsical, and somewhat less substantial. . . . As an exercise in epistemology, Lot 49 is not without theoretical value. And, at times, Pynchon’s speculative prose attains the dense suggestiveness of verse. . . . But verbal density and theoretical value are not enough to make a good novel. Arthur Gold. New York Herald Tribune Book Section. April 24, 1966. p. 5 The trouble, however, goes deeper than this broad, youthful, selfconscious humor with its fatiguing brightness, its bad jokes, and toneless prose. It resides in the fact that Pynchon is an extremely facile writer of caricature. If Virginia Woolf, Gide, Borges, Proust, and Lawrence Durrell, for example, turn up in V., they do so not as ‘‘influences’’ but as taking-off points. It is very much as if Pynchon’s talent can only work given the springboard of pastiche, as if he can deal with his characters only on the condition that they are isolated and qualified by some literary or psychological tonguein-cheek. Thus he has great difficulty in stabilizing his characters and in getting them to talk to one another, for they are constantly being defaced by the universal solvent of Pynchon’s archness, which functions like some hidden second thought of the writer, something he knows that his characters don’t know: that he is the only deviser and player of the pinball game through which they spin. Irving Feldman. Commentary. Sept., 1963. p. 259 V. is, among other things, a novel about, among other places, New York. In contrasting scenes of shifting time and place, Mr. Pynchon creates a bizarre mosaic of modern events against which his characters seek their personal destinies. Herbert Stencil, an Englishman committed to solving the mystery of V. in his father’s life, and Benny Profane, a ‘‘schlemihl’’ committed to keeping himself The first novel, V., was a designed indictment of its own comic elaborateness. The various quests for ‘‘V.’’, all of them substitutes for the pursuit of love, are interwoven fantastically, and the coherence thus achieved is willfully fabricated and factitious. Pynchon’s intricacies are meant to testify to the waste—a key word in The Crying of Lot 49—of imagination that first creates and is then enslaved by its own plottings, its machines, the products of its technology. . . . Gestures of warmth are the most touching in his novels for being terrifyingly intermittent, shy and worried. . . .Efforts at human communication are lost among Pynchon’s characters, nearly all of whom are obsessed with the presumed cryptography in the chance juxtaposition of Things, in the music and idiom of bars like the V-Note or The Scope, or merely in the ‘‘vast sprawl of houses’’ that Oedipa [in The Crying of Lot 49] sees outside Los Angeles, reminding her of the printed circuit of a transistor radio, with its ‘‘intent to communicate.’’ Richard Poirier. New York Times Book Section. May 1, 1966. p. 5 The focus of The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, moves feverishly between Southern California’s shot-up cities and 51
    • PYNCHON their indistinguishable environs. It is a desperately funny book, conceived and executed with an awesome virtuosity. The novel’s tone and pace are characterized by their absolute intensity, and Mr. Pynchon’s essential technique is suggested most simply by his descriptions, which invariably cut from one layer of the culture to another. . . . The ironies are intricate, the prose composed in styles varying from scholarly exposition to parodies of Jacobean tragedy to TV commercialese; but Mr. Pynchon does not lose control. His primary observation remains central, and it is one which our current foreign policy only seems to confirm: that paranoia is the last sense of community left us. Stephen Donadio. Partisan Review. Summer, 1966. pp. 449–50 The great cultural polarity in The Education [of Henry Adams] was of course the Virgin (or Virgin-Venus) and the Dynamo. Pynchon too postulates cultural alternatives, but they are never so sharply defined or as clearly polarized. His single central image is abstract, the letter ‘‘V.,’’ which subsumes multiple meanings (including one roughly comparable to the Virgin-Venus concept) and undergoes a number of transformations in the course of the narrative. His other recurrent image is both prosaic and ominous. It is of all things the well-known yo-yo, that toy with the simple, repetitive motions. For Adams, the dynamo embodied powerful industrial, technological energies. Pynchon’s yo-yo, in various metaphorical forms, comes to characterize a mechanistic and meaningless society: it is his reductio ad absurdum. MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE ‘‘deliberately shrouded in mystery.’’ But is not that Pynchon’s point about what men call history? that it is an omnia gathering of irrelevancies from which sense is manufactured. Max F. Schulz. Black Humor Fiction of the Sixties (Ohio Univ. Pr.). 1973. pp. 79–80 If the shape of V. is a redundant row of yoyoing V’s, the shape of Pynchon’s second novel, The Crying of Lot 49, is an equally futile circle. The reader begins with the hermetic title and ends with the words, ‘‘the crying of lot 49’’—‘‘crying’’ being a term from auctioneering and ‘‘lot 49’’ a particular batch of objects up for sale. The story of Mrs. Oedipa Maas’s quest for the meaning of a legacy dwells, even more than V., on mythic figurations of destructive self-closure: Oedipus, Narcissus, Echo. And—almost as with the numerological figures that buttress the religious art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance—myth in The Crying of Lot 49 is buttressed by mathematics, not in headily ascending patterns of three or four or golden sections, but by self-limiting patterns of frustrated numerals, repeating or redundant. The end of Oedipa’s quest is as empty as the end of Stencil’s, and she finally glimpses a universe compressed into an America of no vocabulary but ones and zeroes, something and nothing, arranged in mindless patterns that alternately suggest a centuries-old conspiracy of waste and death or a mindless muddle. William Harmon in The Comic Imagination in American Literature, ed. Louis D. Rubin, Jr. (Rutgers). 1973. pp. 382–3 Don Hausdorff. Contemporary Literature. Autumn, 1966. p. 259 The world of V. is pluralistic, one of unlimited points of view, with reality presumably emergent out of the reconciliation of these diverse perceptions. Thus chancelleries all over the world piece together their picture of an ever-threatening but unknown enemy. And thus both the Stencils—father and son, British Foreign Office agent and amateur historian in search of his past—grope to connect their scraps of information into a coherent design, Stencil père on the scene, so to speak, at first hand and Stencil fils at second hand from the tantalizing memento mori of his father. This patchwork quilt approach to reality is brilliantly dramatized by Pynchon in the eight versions of the narrative action (more accurately the eight points of view imagined by Herbert Stencil) that comprise all we learn of the intrigues of British spies in Egypt on the eve of the Fashoda incident. The irony is that the eyewitnesses are all peripheral to the action. From the casual observation and incidental eavesdropping of a cafe waiter, a hotel factotum, an English confidence man (who is incidentally a blatant parody of [Nabokov’s] Humbert Humbert), a train conductor, a garry driver, a burglar, and a beerhall waitress, only a fragmentary conception of what is happening can be constructed. It is as if the Fashoda incident were rendered on seven picture postcards and mailed by foreign correspondents unable to find transportation to the front or wire service to the home office. Nor in the culmination of the action are we helped to any understanding of what the spies were about. Narrated omnisciently in the elliptical manner of stage directions for a melodrama, the situation is left, as [Robert] Sklar has complained, 52 Chance meetings in Pynchon’s novels are exploited as parodies of realism by being accepted as part of the normal, necessary order of events. A line of action that is entirely arbitrary, that is taken by chance, links perfectly with others that are stumbled upon, and all of them lead somehow to the right place. Yet this right place, whether it be V. or a full disclosure of the Tristero system, is never finally reached. The clues that Oedipa Maas assembles about the Tristero in The Crying of Lot 49 are all happened upon accidentally, through a Jacobean play, a lavatory wall, a chance meeting with another character in a labyrinthine munitions plant, and so on. The atmosphere of a multitude of possibilities is created, an infinite proliferation of plot lines; yet the one that is followed is the only one, the right one, the way out; and yet again, it brings us no closer to an answer, an identity, a V., a meaningful pattern, than we were to begin with. John Vernon. The Garden and the Map (Illinois). 1973. p. 65 Anyone who’s read Pynchon before hardly needs to be told that Gravity’s Rainbow is pyrotechnically brilliant in its juxtaposition of the humblest sludge of pop culture, the specialized vocabularies of organic chemistry or rocket technology, and the rarefied heights of abstract speculation. His immense documentation, neither showoff nor suffocating, enables him to move with ease from London during the blitz to Southwest Africa in 1904 to a remote village in Central Asia. And he is blissfully funny. Where his talent has grown in the ten years since V. is just where one would have hoped, in the realm of feeling. The openness and suppleness of his
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE polysexual tenderness is as breathtaking as his reach into extremes of anguish, obsession and brutality. Gravity’s Rainbow is moving in ways I don’t remember being moved by V., dazzling as that first novel was. Walter Clemons. Newsweek. March 19, 1973. p. 94 Only three American novels of the last seven or eight years even approach Gravity’s Rainbow in ambition, chutzpah and achievement: Norman Mailer’s An American Dream, Pynchon’s own The Crying of Lot 49 and E. L. Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel. But good as each is in its way, each pales next to this massive, mindblowing, stomach-turning, monstrously comic new milestone in fiction. Gravity’s Rainbow combines the encyclopedic scope of V., his first novel, with the intricacy of The Crying of Lot 49, his second, yet goes past both of them to grave ribaldry not even they realized. This novel is going to change the shape of fiction, if only because its genius will depress all competitors. . . . Writing about a world of bizarre irresponsible bastards paranoiacally besieged by systematic cabals, plots, secret cartels within secret conglomerates, Pynchon shows the perpetual paradox of this necessary but inadequate pushing of things to be omens and pushing of omens to be systems. . . . Yet while clearly committed to the Slothrops—the slowly placed inhabitants of paper bureaucracies—he avoids crystallized certainty, refuses to lock himself into any system, perplexes and astonishes us with his satisfyingly unschematic vision of a world far more complex than we have known. W. T. Lhamon, Jr. New Republic. April 14, 1973. pp. 24, 28 Gravity’s Rainbow is a picaresque, apocalyptic, absurdist novel that creates a complex mythology to describe our present predicament. It is supposedly about a brief period in the decline of the West—fall, 1944, through fall, 1945. It is actually about our entire century, from the roots of the First World War through the final calamity, which keeps on threatening right up to press time. Beyond that, it is about the whole modern tendency of man to subordinate himself to the whims of the products of his intelligence, to the self-aggrandizing dictates of machines. It is also about the paranoia this subordination instills in men—a paranoia of which they are absolved as their persecution dreams come true and, ironically, destroy them. If I have suggested an icily intellectual book by these adumbrations, I’m sorry. Gravity’s Rainbow attempts to conceal its author’s ultimately guiding intellect beneath a long series of marvellous, polyglot sideshows that entertain before they edify. L. E. Sissman. New Yorker. May 19, 1973. p. 138 An embarrassment of riches? Perhaps. But the man can write. The real problem is not Pynchon’s talent per se, but rather how that talent is applied. The sameness of tone throughout Gravity’s Rainbow makes for tedium. By the time the reader is halfway through the book (assuming he gets this far), he feels that he has reached a point of diminishing returns. The always cool, hip voice of the constantly winking creator (Look, Ma, I’m writing, playing games, being clever) becomes less and less attractive. Pynchon’s canvas, which at first seemed so vast, now appears limited, closed. The reader senses the somewhat sophomoric sensibility behind the PYNCHON book and seeks relief. There is none. Only more characters and events filtered through that same irritating sensibility. Scenes accumulate, there are often striking set-pieces of writing, but the book lacks tension and fails to build. Although Pynchon traces the progress of paranoia, shows men constructing the systems and machinery that will eventually destroy them, creates a nervous world of total confusion and sudden death, he has no particular point of view about any of these things. He demonstrates and records in minute detail, but he doesn’t probe, penetrate or seek to illuminate. Ronald De Feo. Hudson Review. Winter, 1973–4. pp. 774–5 The essential pattern of life, from dust to order to dust, is echoed in the title image of the novel: gravity’s rainbow, the parabolic path that gravity imposes on the V2 rocket. Indeed, Pynchon spends so much time on the biography of the rocket just to point out how apt the parallel is. The rocket, too, starts as a disordered scattering of atoms, from iron in the mountains to alcohol latent in potatoes. Man begins to reduce the entropy of those collected atoms, assembling them in one place, arranging them to take on technological life. ‘‘Beyond simple steel erection, the Rocket was an entire system won, away from the feminine darkness, held against the entropies of lovable but scatterbrained Mother Nature . . .’’ (p. 324). The rocket is fired, and carrying out its analogy to life, it burns and rises—‘‘You will come to understand that between the two points, in the five minutes, it lives an entire life’’ (p. 209). Eventually its maximum altitude is reached, where gravity, the manifestation of destiny and the laws of physical process, overcomes the vertical momentum. The rocket must bend to the general flow, and it descends to the earth to disintegrate in a final burst of energy and scattering of atoms. Applied technology has recapitulated fundamental science. Both life and the rocket rise from the rubble, burn bright for a while, and then return to the rubble to be rewoven into life again. The moment of life has been made thermodynamically possible by a continuous process of decay and reconstruction: ‘‘But every true god must be both organizer and destroyer’’ (p. 99). Alan J. Friedman and Manfred Puetz. Contemporary Literature. Summer, 1974. pp. 346–7 The single terrible possibility which underlies each of his books, which threatens whatever peace or sanity his characters might find, is that there may be no chance for living—and yet we continue to live, the novocainized and impotent products of a massive psychic prosthesis. Pynchon’s three novels explore this possibility with an obsessiveness that would seem psychotic, were it not for the very real social urgency of the question itself. In V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity’s Rainbow his themes and situations continue to revolve around the major myths of the Conspiracy, the Quest, and what we can call the Unwilling Cyborg. The particular shape each of these terms may take is variable; indeed, Pynchon displays a profligate inventive genius in devising different manifestations, manically wide-ranging versions of them. There is always, in his book, a Conspiracy: a gigantic, subtle, murderous Plot contrived by forces too powerful and too remote ever to be fully known, a Plot which involves more and more of human history the farther one penetrates its ramifications, a Plot whose ultimate goal appears to be the 53
    • PYNCHON automatization and subjugation of all things living and creative, ultimate control and ultimate soullessness. There is always, also, a Quest, an Investigation which attempts to bring the Plot to light, to solve and thereby foil its insidious intent. A character may be propelled on his investigation by the most minimal coincidences or clues, but once he embarks on his investigation he begins to discover relevant data and hints everywhere he turns. Between these two elements, Plot and Quest, conspiracy and counterforce, the characters of the novels find themselves caught in the position of being Unwilling Cyborgs; they discover, that is, how much and how secretly the Plot has succeeded, in their own lives, in transforming them into programmed, manipulated antiorganisms robbed of free will. As they struggle to solve the secret of the Plot, then, they struggle also to regain what the Plot has stolen from them. On the surface, this archetypal Pynchon situation owes a good deal to the controlling fiction of William S. Burroughs’s junk-universe, from Naked Lunch to Exterminator—the ‘‘Nova Mob,’’ extraterrestrial criminals forcing the people of Earth into addiction and living death. The difference—and, perhaps, the salvation—in Pynchon is that he, unlike Burroughs, admits the possibility of escape, freedom, and cure (though just barely) within the sanctions of ordinary humanity, which is to say within the social and passional purview of the novel form itself. For Burroughs, the only alternative to total enslavement is total, almost Buddhist suspension of ordinary human impulse. Pynchon’s characters do what Burroughs’s are past doing: they fight against their entrapment, and even win marginal victories over it. The world Pynchon’s characters inhabit is a strange one of halflight, half-truth, where moral choices continue to be made, but where the terms of the choices are never clear enough for anyone to understand why, or often when, a crucial decision has been reached. This is only another way of saying, finally, that they inhabit the world of all European fiction from The Pilgrim’s Progress to The Plague, the world of our own daily attempts to lead a human life. Frank D. McConnell. Four Postwar American Novelists (Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1977), pp. 163–64 In its attention to the interior landscape, recent fiction has forgotten the density of the exterior one. Modernism prefers to speak of the world of politics and ethics in personal and aesthetic terms. Pynchon does the opposite. In his books, character is less important than the network of relations existing either between characters, or between characters and social and historical patterns of meaning. Pynchon also tries to attend to the force with which history, politics, economics, and the necessities of science and language shape personal choices and are in turn shaped by those choices. To see in this a deliberate turning away from novelistic realism. . . . is to confuse certain mediating literary conventions with unmediated reality. For most of this century, fiction has located the origins of human action in the depths of personal psychology. Pynchon comes up for air and looks elsewhere. What he finds seems cold and abstract only to the extent that it remains unfamiliar in literature and art (if nowhere else). . . . The ethical problems in Gravity’s Rainbow have analogues in the linguistic and interpretive problems it raises as well. Language for Pynchon is not a system complete in itself but an ethically and socially performative (his word is ‘‘operative’’) system, one which can be altered by deliberate acts. The model of language in Ulysses, 54 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE on the other hand, is characteristically self-enclosed. For Joyce, the history of language is, in effect, an embryological history (in the chapter known as ‘‘Oxen of the Sun’’), a version of an unconscious cycle unaffected by personal or social choice. Gravity’s Rainbow’s history of language (in the episode set in the Kirghiz) is instead political, ‘‘less unaware of itself,’’ determined by conscious decisions. . . . In Pynchon, unlike Joyce, the surface details are often incredible and baroque, while the underlying organization is all too plausible and disquieting. Beneath the fantasies and the paranoia, Pynchon organizes his book according to historical and scientific theory—according, that is, to an order independent of literary imagination, an order derived more from the realms of politics and physics than from the self-conscious Modernist reflexivities of language and literature. . . . Pynchon’s challenge to literary studies offers one means of turning away from this dead end—there are other means available as well, of course—and to turn instead to methods of reading that have . . . ‘‘a reason that mattered to the world.’’ As with criticism, so with the act of reading itself: Pynchon challenges his readers to participate, not merely in the linguistic and philosophical puzzles of his books’ interpretation, but in the choices that those books make plain. It is a challenge with special urgency, for it is offered by a writer who—in the judgment of this reader, and of many others—is the greatest living writer in the English-speaking world. Edward Mendelson. In Pynchon: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Edward Mendelson (Prentice-Hall, 1978), pp. 4–5, 13–15 The most abused of [the] critical ‘‘keys’’ to Pynchon is the concept of entropy, a corollary to the second law of thermodynamics. According to this law, systems that produce work by the transfer of thermal energy cannot function at perfect efficiency; thus the perpetual motion machine does not exist for the simple reason that all engines run down. Entropy is the measure of inefficiency in such systems: the less efficient the engine, the higher the entropy. The literary mind would probably take little notice of such matters were it not for the fact that the world and the universe of which it is a part are themselves ‘‘systems’’ subject to entropy. . . . Pynchon . . . less interested in the running down of the world or the universe than in the running down of the civilization into which he was born . . . uses entropy as a paradigm of the snowballing deterioration of the West. But unlike some of his characters and certain of his critics, Pynchon realizes that the concept of entropy can be applied to society only by analogy, and that, consequently, no ‘‘law’’ says that a society’s decline must be irreversible. Indeed, civilizations do not decline perpetually, but rather wax and wane. David Cowart. Thomas Pynchon: The Art of Allusion (Southern Illinois Univ. Pr., 1980), pp. 1–2 In Gravity’s Rainbow Pynchon continues his trend of increasingly more profound analyses of fictions. In this novel he includes only one story. The only other possible story, about Morituri, does not qualify because it only switches narrators in order to carry on the same plot line as the rest of the novel. The only intercalated story, the account of Byron Bulb, resembles Cashiered in The Crying of Lot 49 because it describes a character threatened by a force that certainly exists. Unlike that film, and even though its hero is a light
    • MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE bulb, this story is not merely a humorous caricature of the problem of a novel’s main character. Somehow Pynchon maintains seriousness and makes Byron a paradigm of the alien in a hostile world. At least a dozen of the characters in Gravity’s Rainbow create fictions. Even some madmen, such as the man who thinks he is World War II, and some dead people, such as Walter Rathenau and William Slothrop, make fictions. Most noticeably, the characters in this novel make brief fictions—and usually only one apiece—that, compared to the many fictions in the book, offer little promise. Many of the characters construct fictions that explain Slothrop’s experiences, but he constructs fewer fictions than does Oedipa. Pynchon makes it clear that she tries to discover whether positing the existence of the Tristero will explain her experiences. In contrast, Slothrop interrupts his search for the rocket, and he often tries to understand its technology rather than any larger, metaphysical meaning it may have. He meditates less and forges on against confusion less resolutely than does Oedipa. In Gravity’s Rainbow, then, fictions have even more value than in the earlier novels, but constructing them appears to be nearly impossible. . . . In short, Pynchon’s examination of this artistic medium has reached an important juncture. Throughout his career he has speculated on its nature and its relation to other media, thereby casting a coldly intellectual light on his work. In Gravity’s Rainbow, however, he has both found the understanding he sought and discovered how to make his writing more humanly important. By culminating the first process and beginning the second, his most recent novel achieves the status of a major work. He now stands ready to create even more impressive books. . . . Pynchon’s conception of the mission of literature is distinctive. With great skill he manipulates the traditional elements of fiction in order to reveal the inadequacy of realistic literary conventions and commonsense epistemologies, and he builds small new constructs, using information from nonliterary fields, borrowing especially from science, psychology, history, religion, and film. Finally, he gradually creates a complex literary fiction that incorporates, interrelates, and evaluates nonliterary information and ways of organizing it. John O. Stark. Pynchon’s Fictions: Thomas Pynchon and the Literature of Information (Ohio Univ. Pr., 1980), pp. 171–74 By insisting upon the power of language in the world, Pynchon’s writing helps preserve a critical distance between private thought and public vision. His writing keeps us in an uncertain but engaged equilibrium between the extremes of self and society. This is the reason he is the most compelling social writer we have. The complexity of his understanding prevents opposition from declining into false division. His fiction reminds us of what a true society would mean, and articulates a society of isolation that already exists. The paradox of Pynchon’s career thus far is that a writer so vehemently communal should be so resolutely private; but this is only a seeming paradox, for publicity is not community and exchanges being known well for being well known. It is in his isolation that Pynchon remains one of us. His perfect absence from the public view contributes to the scattered presence of his Orphic voice. His absence gives his books a curious autonomy they would not otherwise possess and assists them in blurring the readerly distinction between fiction and the real world. His disembodied voice gives vitality and importance to the neglected and private details of the life beyond his fiction. His writing PYNCHON therefore keeps us company and awakens in us the possibility that we are not alone. This awakening is the ‘‘physical grace’’ of Thomas Pynchon, at once communal and incomplete, a continuity of song that never resolves. Listen. Thomas H. Schaub. Pynchon: The Voice of Ambiguity (Univ. of Illinois Pr., 1981), p. 152 In a recent essay entitled ‘‘Is it OK to Be a Luddite?’’—one of few indications since Gravity’s Rainbow that his pen is alive and well— [Thomas] Pynchon typically relates a historical incident to elucidate a cultural cusp. The Luddites, he tells us, were bands of men who flourished in Britain between 1811 and 1816, and whose object was to destroy the machinery that was replacing them in the textile industry. . . . Pynchon goes on to relate this group of counterrevolutionaries to a persistent but repressed mode of thought in Western culture . . . that denies the divisiveness inherent in the rational arrangement of a mechanical universe. . . . Pynchon’s works are Luddite plots to convert his readers. They disrupt our reliance on rational norms by graphically depicting some of the gruesome by-products of those norms. We witness the enslavement of reason as a tool for self-aggrandizement and the consequent permutations of destruction. . . . Pynchon confronts us with our own preconceptions and shows us their manifestations. His self-referentiality forces an equivalent reader response by exposing our indulgence in lies. Robert D. Newman. Understanding Thomas Pynchon (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina, 1986), pp. 9–10 Pynchon’s . . . fluidity . . . is a dreamlike state that owes much to the psychological/mystical system of Jung—a major influence too little noted so far in Pynchon studies. Jung’s sense of the ‘‘psycoid’’ acausal connectedness and indeterminacy of ground reality is such as to give rise to a ‘‘both/and’’ conception of that reality, some of whose implications, as also in Pynchon, are experiential and ethical. In every pulse of experience, every moment of time, both hope and despair, apocalypse and salvation, kindness and cruelty, are immanent in each other, unmanifest until such times as we choose which of the ‘‘paired opposites’’ to make manifest. As light is somehow both wave and particle, the plenum below, or prior to, our repressive networks of systems is conceivable as both full and void, One and Zero. Pynchon seems to share Jung’s shy faith in the possibility of an ultimate One such that if you blink at the void, the void can become; the horrific V-ness of Pynchon’s first and third novels offers the metaphysical eye, both a blank vacancy of no meaning and a continuous plenum of meaning, with all inadequate, projected systems of meaning melding to fill in the space. Thomas Moore. The Style of Connectedness: Gravity’s Rainbow and Thomas Pynchon (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri, 1987), p. 10 Like [Walter] Kuhn and [Frank] Kermode, Pynchon is concerned with the extent to which scientific and literary paradigms determine what we perceive; he thus juxtaposes competing paradigms in search of possible alternatives. Pynchon’s practice does not observe essential differences between science and literature, instrumental and emotive uses of language. His writing deliberately 55
    • PYNCHON mixes allegory and history, tragedy and satire, metaphoric and literal in pursuit of the state that he ascribes to the fourth act of The Courier’s Tragedy, his parody of Jacobean revenge tragedies. ‘‘Heretofore the naming of names has gone on either literally or as metaphor. But now, as the Duke gives his fatal command, a new mode of expression takes over. It can only be called a kind of ritual reluctance. Certain things, it is made clear, will not be spoken aloud; certain events will not be shown onstage, though it is difficult to imagine, given the excesses of the preceding acts, what these things could possibly be.’’ To produce a text that signifies neither literally nor metaphorically. Pynchon establishes competing versions of the concept of entropy, the concept of Tristero, the myth of Narcissus, and the myth of Oedipus, to point in each case to another mode of meaning outside these shaping paradigms. Pynchon’s narrative thinks about the concept of entropy rather than with it. . . . In The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon employs potentially explanatory metaphors as tools that help in describing our condition, not as truths to be illustrated. He elaborates opposite meanings of Tristero, for example, in order to point beyond both to an undeniable but uncomfortable fact. Through his deliberate use of paradigmatic fictions, he would be a ‘‘liar in the service of truth.’’. . . At the end of The Crying of Lot 49 the binary choices facing Oedipa and the reader reflect the constraining conditions of scientific models and literary genres, which conspire with the paranoid temper of postmodern times to keep her and us suspended far short of certainty. The auctioning, as lot 49, of Pierce’s stamps— uncanceled token of communication that never occurred, of indeterminate, though more than face, value—offers a synecdoche for the paradoxes of the present paradigm, in which meanings and bits of information emerge as parts of an elaborate hoax. Oedipa remains deliberately irresolute and continues her quest by holding back. Out of range the voice of God, ‘‘the cry that would abolish the night,’’ she awaits yet another inconclusive epiphany and braces against the forces of history and psychology that would make pure paranoia the shape of true conviction. In plotting the course of Oedipa’s paranoid sanity, her refusal to be bound by comforting myths and paradigms, Pynchon cries our lot too. Frank Palmieri. Satire in Narrative (Austin: Univ. of Texas Pr., 1990), pp. 110, 114, 125 In Vineland the puzzle of history gets worked out through a character [Prairie] whose very existence, unlike Oedipa’s, depends 56 MODERN AMERICAN LITERATURE entirely on the past she seeks and creates, since she is a daughter in search of her mother, her mother’s past, and therefore her own past and present. . . . The pattern of coincidence, in fact, precisely enacts the pattern of typological historical method: each ‘‘impossible’’ relat