Not only can Bronte render an archetypal Austenian “sketch,” she can toss them off at will, can toss them aside thereafter as if inconsequential.Read More
My new essay--"The Breaking Towers: on Hart Crane's Crumbling Muses"--is up now at Monarch Review. Essentially, it's a meditation on the way critics treat artists, especially as seen in the new film Broken Tower (dir. James Franco) and in Paul Mariani's biography of the poet, by the same name.
Monarch is the new kid on the block in the (tough neighborhood?) of literary magazines, and it's based in Seattle, which is why I wanted to publish there. That, and the fact that they've got an epithet from Richard Kenney on their masthead, whose book One-Strand River is, apart from Shelley, the poetry I've re-read more than any other. I'm seriously in the middle of my 16th or so straight read-through and it still chokes me up.
Anyhow, the folks at Monarch are generous and give this content away for free. You can read the whole essay here.
Literary and Poetic Representations of Work and Labor in Europe and Asia During the Romantic Era: Charting a Motif Across Boundaries of Culture, Place, and Time is available now from Mellen Press, featuring a chapter I contributed entitled “Theatricality and Imaginative Failure in Keats.”
This chapter is part of a larger project I have in mind called “The Vanishing Point,” which will begin seeking a publisher sometime next Fall. Meanwhile, you can find this book on Amazon, or straight from the publisher here.
In The Sublime Object of Ideology, Slavoj Zizek writes that “sublimity gives us simultaneously pleasure and displeasure: it gives us displeasure because of its inadequacy to the thing-idea, but precisely through this inadequacy, it gives us pleasure by indicating the true, incomparable greatness of the thing, surpassing every possible phenomenological, empirical experience.” Keats’ “Ode of a Grecian Urn” may be one of the language’s greatest poems, but it also contains some of poetry’s worst lines. Those lines, especially “More happy love, more happy, happy love,” are not mis-steps; they are failures, and, I’m arguing, active failures in Zizek’s sense, a kind of theatrical dive, meant to claim for the poet a documentable experience of the sublime. In what thereby becomes a discourse on imaginative limits, Keats discusses the form’s ability to “tease us out of thought,” connecting that lack of thought with silence, and ultimately to a breathlessness he enacts in these passages. As the poet demonstrates the failure of the poetic faculty in the face of the sublime encounter –making a spectacle of the climb, failure, and recovery– he also hopes to induce a similar reaction in his readers, attempting to move us out of breath and to the same pitch of delirium he has exhibited, to make his private imaginative environment a public one wherein his theatrical swoon is contagious.