Download A Concise Companion to Twentieth-Century American Poetry by Stephen Fredman PDF

By Stephen Fredman

This Concise better half supplies readers a wealthy experience of the way the poetry produced within the usa in the course of the 20th century is attached to the country’s highbrow lifestyles extra generally. is helping readers to totally get pleasure from the poetry of the interval via tracing its old and cultural contexts. Written via favourite experts within the box. locations the poetry of the interval inside contexts similar to: warfare; feminism and the feminine poet; poetries of immigration and migration; communism and anti-communism; philosophy and thought. each one bankruptcy levels around the whole century, evaluating poets from one a part of the century to these of one other. New syntheses make the quantity of curiosity to students in addition to scholars and basic readers.

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For if we have finally “killed” the nineteenth century, as she puts it (p. 16), that means that we are no longer tied to the obviousness of literary realism and can begin to understand that “life is not real it is not earnest, it is strange which is an entirely different matter” (p. 44). Stein draws a distinction between World War I, which, she says, belongs to the nineteenth century and has a “legendary” aspect, and World War II which is not “legendary” at all (p. 20; see also Rose 1993: 16–18).

While the Vietnam war can be “seen,” as it were, in that terrible image of “A plume of smoke, visible at a distance/ In which people burn,” World War II has a sort of belated force, continuing to deliver traumatic memories from a distance and refusing to come into the clear focus that might allow it to be forgotten. This distinction, which is not, of course, meant to suggest a qualitative comparison of incomparable events, may speak to a more general sense of what Robert Bly calls “the sudden new change in the life of humanity” after World War II (quoted in Walsh 1982: 116).

Ginsberg’s “howl” is against not only these literal spaces of miserable confinement, but 13 Peter Nicholls against a closed language which can be broken open only by something as primitive and inchoate as a howl. And by closure here I mean exactly what Roland Barthes meant when he wrote of totalitarianism as a world in which: definition, that is to say the separation between Good and Evil, becomes the sole content of all language, there are no more words without values attached to them, so that finally the function of writing is to cut out one stage of a process: there is no more lapse of time between naming and judging, and the closed character of language is perfected, since in the last analysis it is a value which is given as explanation of another value.

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