Poetry and Freedom: Discoveries in Aesthetics, 19852018
180 pages
English

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180 pages
English

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Description

A ground-breaking exploration of the aesthetics of poetic freedom


This book offers a ground-breaking exploration of the aesthetics of poetic freedom. The range is broad, from antiquity to the present and from Europe and the Middle East into the poetry of the English-speaking world. Revealing questions about the elusiveness of poetic freedom—what does the term actually mean?—are repeatedly tested against the accomplishments of major poets such as Whitman, Dickinson, Rilke, Dante and Virgil, and their public yet intensely private originality. The result is a fresh, and well-nigh revolutionary, way of seeing literary and modern history, or an initiation into the more striking gift of aesthetic freedom.


Preface: Among the Nightmare Lovers of Hades; 1 Eliot as Revolutionary; 2 Goethe and Modernism: The Dream of Anachronism in Goethe’s Roman Elegies; 3 Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano; 4 Does Time Exist?; 5 The Age of Authenticity: An American Poet in England; 6 Whitman and Wilde in Camden; 7 Dangerous Thoughts, Puzzling Responses; 8 Scaling the Wall; 9 Mass Death and Resurrection: Notes on Contemporary, Mostly American, Jewish Fiction; 10 Rilke, Einstein, Freud and the Orpheus Mystery; 11 Shrouds Aplenty (on poems of Janowitz, et al); 12 Ambushes of Amazement (on poems of Wakoski); 13 Dangerous and Steep (on poems of Jacobsen); 14 Small Touching Skill (on poems of Ponsot); 15 Language Mesh (on Paul Celan); 16 Sweet Extra (on poems of Cuddihy, Ray); 17 Maze of the Original (on translating poetry); 18 Approaching the Medieval Lyric; 19 Dark Passage (on poems of Stafford); 20 Mistress of Sorrows (on Ingeborg Bachmann); 21 The Innocence of a Mirror (on poems of Oliver); 22 Peskily Written (on Sade); 23 Is There Sex after Sappho?; 24 Saving One’s Skin (on medieval poetry); 25 Brilliant White Shadow (on poems and prose of Saba); 26 Serpent’s Tale (on Minoan archeology); 27 How Honest Was Cellini?; 28 The Poetry of No Compromises (on poems of Rehder); 29 Assigning Names (on poems of Nurkse); 30 History and Ethics: Bruni’s History of Florence; 31 Virgil’s Aeneid Made New (a translation by Robert Fagles); 32 Painting with Poetry (on the poems of Annie Boutelle); 33 Vampires and Freedom (on the work of Erik Butler); 34 How the West Learned to Read and Write: Silent Reading and the Invention of the Sonnet; List of Publications; Index.

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Publié par
Date de parution 31 mars 2020
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781785272998
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0100€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

Poetry and Freedom
Other books by Paul Oppenheimer

Before a Battle and Other Poems
Till Eulenspiegel: His Adventures (translation)
Beyond the Furies: new poems
The Birth of the Modern Mind: Self, Consciousness and the
Invention of the Sonnet
Evil and the Demonic: A New Theory of Monstrous Behavior
Infinite Desire: A Guide to Modern Guilt
Rubens: A Portrait (biography)
Blood Memoir, or The First Three Days of Creation (fiction)
The Flame Charts: new poems
In Times of Danger (poems)
Machiavelli: A Life Beyond Ideology (biography)
Poetry and Freedom
Discoveries in Aesthetics, 1985–2018
Paul Oppenheimer
Anthem Press
An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company
www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2020
by ANTHEM PRESS
75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK
or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK
and
244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
Copyright © Paul Oppenheimer 2020
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above,
no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into
a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means
(electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise),
without the prior written permission of both the copyright
owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN-13: 978-1-78527-297-4 (Hbk)
ISBN-10: 1-78527-297-7 (Hbk)
This title is also available as an ebook.
Contents
Preface: Among the Nightmare Lovers of Hades
1 Eliot as Revolutionary
2 Goethe and Modernism: The Dream of Anachronism in Goethe’s Roman Elegies
3 Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano
4 Does Time Exist?
5 The Age of Authenticity: An American Poet in England
6 Whitman and Wilde in Camden
7 Dangerous Thoughts, Puzzling Responses
8 Scaling the Wall
9 Mass Death and Resurrection: Notes on Contemporary, Mostly American, Jewish Fiction
10 Rilke, Einstein, Freud and the Orpheus Mystery
11 Shrouds Aplenty (on poems of Janowitz, et al )
12 Ambushes of Amazement (on poems of Wakoski)
13 Dangerous and Steep (on poems of Jacobsen)
14 Small Touching Skill (on poems of Ponsot)
15 Language Mesh (on Paul Celan)
16 Sweet Extra (on poems of Cuddihy, Ray)
17 Maze of the Original (on translating poetry)
18 Approaching the Medieval Lyric
19 Dark Passage (on poems of Stafford)
20 Mistress of Sorrows (on Ingeborg Bachmann)
21 The Innocence of a Mirror (on poems of Oliver)
22 Peskily Written (on Sade)
23 Is There Sex after Sappho?
24 Saving One’s Skin (on medieval poetry)
25 Brilliant White Shadow (on poems and prose of Saba)
26 Serpent’s Tale (on Minoan archeology)
27 How Honest Was Cellini?
28 The Poetry of No Compromises (on poems of Rehder)
29 Assigning Names (on poems of Nurkse)
30 History and Ethics: Bruni’s History of Florence
31 Virgil’s Aeneid Made New (a translation by Robert Fagles)
32 Painting with Poetry (on the poems of Annie Boutelle)
33 Vampires and Freedom (on the work of Erik Butler)
34 How the West Learned to Read and Write: Silent Reading and the Invention of the Sonnet
List of Publications
Index
Preface: Among the Nightmare Lovers of Hades
Not everything here deals with poetry. It all deals with freedom and aesthetics, though, and indirectly at least, with aesthetic innovations in poetry for the sake of freedom.
The type of freedom varies: aesthetic, imaginative, political, individual (which despite popular beliefs in some quarters is not the same as political), sexual, emotional, historical, psychological, linguistic (with respect to translation), rhetorical, fantastical (as in fantasy worlds) and philosophical. A number of puzzling attitudes toward freedom, such as those of the Language poets, to wit, that if poets free their words of all familiar contexts they will produce more adventurous poems, are omitted except to take note of their absurdity. Along these lines, it should be noted that ours may be the first age in which nonsense verse is often produced by people without any sense of humor. In this topsy-turvy situation, in which solemnity is confused with profundity, poets may find it close to impossible to write another “Jabberwocky.”
From the moment when I began writing these essays and reviews, in other words, I wanted to take a stab at exploring significant aspects of the problem of modern poetic freedom. I also welcomed the fact that in any of the arts the present evokes the past, if only because works of art, at least at first, assume much of their meaning in relation to other works of art. The prospect of dealing with the past in terms of the present retains a magnetic, rather than an antiquarian, appeal: one reads the medieval German poet Walter von der Vogelweide not because he is old but because he is new, and not because he offers more astute insights into his own culture than his historian contemporaries but because his poetic intelligence differs from theirs in refreshing and insightful ways, and not because he is an anthropologist (which he is not) but for his literary style. This literary achievement, that of style, is often neglected now, along with how thrilling and incisive it can be, how valuable, and these essays seek to draw attention to it.
A plan has thus been in place from the start, and it may to some extent excuse collecting and arranging what might otherwise seem unrelated pieces rescued from journals, newspapers and magazines. On the other hand, the plan was always tentative, an effort at reports from the front lines of the struggle for poetic freedom, rather than an attempt to promote some bland ideology. It has always seemed to me that while any responsible critic ought to subscribe to aesthetic and human values, the chance to exercise critical freedom, to observe, test various hypotheses and demur, vanishes amid tedious ideology-promotion schemes.
Why opt for poetic freedom at all, though, rather than some other basis for this book? An apposite answer to this question lies in stressing the importance of what may be called wriggle-room, by which I mean that any unknown artist, and it is worth remembering that even Shakespeare was once unknown, seeks out opportunities to be heard among the rest, if not long after many of them, a free-feeling and free-seeming place in which to be understood on his or her own terms. On occasion, as with T. S. Eliot, the wriggle-room may amount to more than any idea of mere wriggling suggests—it may be more expansive—because it has been secured through a poetic revolution, though as is suggested below in an essay on Eliot’s centenary, what constitutes a revolution in the arts is often problematic. Often too, as is argued in “Scaling the Wall,” a piece dealing with freedom of expression in the defunct Soviet Union (but which I hope readers may find of interest on historical-political grounds), genuine aesthetic revolutions are more apt to be crushed by state bureaucracies less eager to grant wriggle-room to poets than an unpleasant roominess to censors and even, on occasion, executioners.
If authentic wriggle-room, or space for maneuver, is paradoxically crucial to pressurizing, or boiling pure, the quality of good poetry, to refining and strengthening it, the atmosphere surrounding its expression is always unique. The witty breeze wafting through Heine’s lyrics differs in its smoothness from the wily storms racing through Byron’s. Rilke’s angelic skies hardly blend with Goethe’s pagan sun. As a result, the critic needs to be at least an amateur meteorologist of diction. He or she should not only bring back frontline reports on how poetry is meeting new challenges by changing but also weather reports on the cultural atmosphere surrounding the words themselves, and between the words and the world. Venturing into this slip-sliding terrain, which has turned into a modern Hades of angst over belief, and even a lover’s angst of mistrust as well as a twilight zone full of the wandering lovers of nightmares, and doing so with fairness, is, I am convinced, the modern critic’s chief challenge. It emerges here, I hope, in useful ways in the 10 essays and longer review articles that lead off this collection, and with equal if punchier cogency in the shorter articles (and even in my translation of Rilke’s “Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes.”) that follow, in which a candid critical ambitiousness seeks out fresh perspectives on old questions: even vampirism, as in the penultimate article here, “Vampires and Freedom,” may have a lot to suggest, and especially these days, about the nature of human and literary freedom of expression.
On the other hand, a drastically different report from the aesthetic front is attempted in the very last essay, on the invention of the sonnet, a broad, research-based inquiry into literary fashions and how people in the West have come to read and write as they do. The issue here is the extraordinary development of silent reading and its effects in modern times.
I remain deeply grateful to the editors who have published these pieces (in fact what follows represents well under half my output over the past 25 years), who looked with tolerance on these efforts to explor

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