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Poetry Of Presence (Wisconsin Project on American Writers)
William Carlos Williams was an inventive writer never confined by any static genre or aesthetic postulate. In this authoritative study, Bernard Duffey recognizes that literary dynamism as he approaches the full breadth of Williams’s work—including his poetry, prose, fiction, and drama—as an interrelated and interdependent web of writing. The result,...
William Carlos Williams was an inventive writer never confined by any static genre or aesthetic postulate. In this authoritative study, Bernard Duffey recognizes that literary dynamism as he approaches the full breadth of Williams’s work—including his poetry, prose, fiction, and drama—as an interrelated and interdependent web of writing. The result, the first truly comprehensive examination of a major American author and his kinetic art, will interest students and scholars of Williams, American literature, and modern poetry and criticism. Central to Duffey’s study is a critical framework based on Kenneth Burke’s A Grammar of Motives and the perception of the poet as an agent working in relation to a “scene” and its content—in this case, the geographical and cultural locale that Williams clung to. Williams’s work, Duffey argues, was informed by the dramatic sense of himself as a literary actor seeking embodiment of a dynamic, altering whole and his present condition of being. Ultimately, he stresses, the writer was more engaged in expressing literary action than in forging literary objects. Duffey amplifies this critical view through a close reading of specific works. Examining Williams’s principal writings in the lights that seem most immediate to them, he tackles a variety of themes: the pervasiveness of scene in In the American Grain and the fiction; the role of agent or poetic person in Kora in Hell, A Voyage to Pagany, Paterson, and Pictures from Brueghel; the function of poetic agency in the short poems, and of poetic action in Williams’s drama.
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