Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Lloyd Mintern

"Modern literature as a whole, of which Eliot is the avatar and Dewey the advocate (at least in theory)"

At least in theory indeed! Dewey as the advocate of modern literature? That's a stretch. Of course it is a stretch that Eliot is an avatar of modern literature, also; so I guess you can mix and match these lightweights.

Luther Blissett

Dan, I like how you highlighted Eliot's notion that the new artist provides a reconfiguration of the past. This was always the point I found most valuable buried within Bloom's baroque system: the great new poet *is* a radical reconfiguration of the old, while tradition *is* a radical assemblage constructed through the work of the new poet. (Of course, this often means that the strong new poet buries one part of the past while uncovering another, the way Eliot gave us a new Donne and Herbert while turning attention away from the Romantics.)

For example, this is how I view John Ashbery and Leslie Scalapino. Each are avatars of Wallace Stevens, even if that's more embarrassing for Scalapino than Ashbery. But each forces us to reread Stevens in a new way, to see new things in Stevens, to reevaluate what is important in Stevens. No one would ever accuse Ashbery or Scalapino of being unoriginal, for in drawing from tradition thay also reinvented that tradition.

Now, I lost track of new poetry when I started my Ph.D., but the strongest poets I know of all force me to reread the past in new ways: Susan Howe, Bob Perelman, C. D. Wright, Forrest Gander, Charles Wright, Jorie Graham, Jay Wright, Nate Mackey, Jenna Osman, Kevin Young, Harryette Mullen, Heather McHugh, Anne Carson, etc.


Art is in the end a production of the person (and by some extension the society) and as things change in the world, in the idea of self, the individual, art changes too, or works changing everything else – art gets reconfigured, concepts shade and clarify, it adopts the past and looks ahead, looks around itself, and in; etc. etc. Nice post.

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