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Fables of the Self

Overview

A landmark work—part personal narrative, part critical exploration—by a distinguished American poet.Fables of the Self traces ideas of imagined selfhood through the lyric poetry of classical Greece and Rome, the modernist poetry of France, and modern and contemporary English and American lyrics. Rosanna Warren's work emerges from the tradition of British and American poet-critics such as William Empson, Donald Davie, and Randall Jarrell. Her readings of Sappho, Virgil, Baudelaire, Melville, Rimbaud, Mark Strand, ...

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Overview

A landmark work—part personal narrative, part critical exploration—by a distinguished American poet.Fables of the Self traces ideas of imagined selfhood through the lyric poetry of classical Greece and Rome, the modernist poetry of France, and modern and contemporary English and American lyrics. Rosanna Warren's work emerges from the tradition of British and American poet-critics such as William Empson, Donald Davie, and Randall Jarrell. Her readings of Sappho, Virgil, Baudelaire, Melville, Rimbaud, Mark Strand, and Louise Glück, among others, combine Helen Vendler's passionate attention to detail and something of Harold Bloom's panoramic view. Warren opposes both the literalizing, autobiographical approach to self in so-called confessional poetry and the other extreme of avant-garde erasures of self. Framing her critical studies between a memoir of childhood and a concluding journal entry, Warren has composed an occult autobiography, showing the imagination as a transfiguring and potentially moral force.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This first gathering of literary criticism by poet Warren (Departure) shines, much like her verse, because of her ability to make the past and present connect. Warren writes skillfully about English poetry (in a fine piece on negation in Thomas Hardy) and modern France (with superb introductions to the poets Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, though there are few surprises when she examines Rimbaud). She also advances fine arguments about how English-language poets use the classical past: Swinburne's adaptations of Sappho, for example, and Auden's Alcaic elegy. Warren's father was the poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren (All the King's Men), and some readers may focus on the few essays that include autobiography (more about Warren's own artistic development than about her family life). Other readers, no doubt, will find these essays too highbrow-and they do sound "academic" at times. On the whole, though, the book deserves great praise: Warren is a matchless guide to her favorite major poets. (Sept.)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393066135
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/22/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosanna Warren, the author of four collections of poetry, has received awards from the Academy of Arts and Letters and has won the Lamont Poetry Prize. She teaches at the University of Chicago and lives in Chicago.

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Table of Contents

1 Midi 3

2 Sappho : translation as elegy 10

3 Alcaics in exile : W. H. Auden's "In memory of Sigmund Freud" 27

4 The end of The Aeneid 37

5 Negative idylls : Mark Strand and contemporary pastoral 51

6 In classic guise : John Hollander's shadow selves 74

7 Contradictory classicists : Frank Bidart and Louise Gluck 95

8 The "last madness" of Gerard de Nerval 117

9 Rimbaud : insulting beauty 142

10 Mallarme and Max Jacob : a tale of two dice cups 154

11 Orpheus the painter : Apollinaire and Robert Delaunay 187

12 Words and blood in Dante 209

13 Dark knowledge : Melville's poems of the Civil War 218

14 Hardy's undoings 238

15 Meeting H.D. 247

16 Adventures of the "I" : the poetry of pronouns in Geoffrey Hill 266

Coda 282

Notes 293

Permissions acknowledgments 315

Index 319

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