Historical Fictions

Overview


In Historical Fictions Hugh Kenner applies his extraordinarily nimble mind and unrivaled style to the alchemy of speech turning into language, language becoming art, and art finally settling down as culture. A variety of literary topics are addressed in forty-three lively, often humorous, and wonderfully informative essays.

With his trenchant, famously entertaining touch, Kenner explores the role of counting in literature (Joyce and St. Augustine shared a preference for the ...

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Overview


In Historical Fictions Hugh Kenner applies his extraordinarily nimble mind and unrivaled style to the alchemy of speech turning into language, language becoming art, and art finally settling down as culture. A variety of literary topics are addressed in forty-three lively, often humorous, and wonderfully informative essays.

With his trenchant, famously entertaining touch, Kenner explores the role of counting in literature (Joyce and St. Augustine shared a preference for the number eleven); the extravagant efforts through the ages to preserve the Iliad and the Odyssey (focusing on Ezra Pound's contributions); and Tom Wolfe's prose through the purple decades (Kenner calls him "the nonchalant master of the neon-piped sentence"). Other writers who fall under Kenner's appraising gaze include Flann O'Brien, H.D., Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Dante, Leslie Fiedler, Wallace Stevens, Saul Bellow, William Carlos Williams, Samuel Beckett, and Vladimir Nabokov.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Stick with Kenner's Historical Fictions when you want to remember that literature is not only the best intellectual exercise around, it is also supposed to be fun. . . . What is remarkable is thatr given the pressure of such expansive knowledge, Kenner still manages to write apt, amosing prose."--New York Times Book Review

"A Kenner idea floats gently on the mind, and he often strings together words as beautifully as the poets and novelists he is explicating."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Every page of Historical Fictions is instructive; but, even more important, all of it is exceptionally entertaining."--Washington Post Book World

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For more than 40 years, the penetrating intelligence and sharp wit of Hugh Kenner have been delighting devotees of his literary criticism. Now, in this companion volume to Mazes , the Johns Hopkins professor brings together 43 more essays and reviews about writers who intrigue him--Beckett, Joyce, Pound, Yeats--and subjects that pique his interest--``fractals,'' poetic closure, romanticism, the mythological method. Whether shrewdly reassessing the bas reliefs of Agostino di Duccio, the poetry of Hopkins, Stevens and Williams, the notions of Wyndham Lewis, Flann O'Brien and Tom Wolfe, whether demonstrating the plagiarism of Coleridge and Heymann, the shortcomings of Deidre Bair, Saul Bellow, Richard Ellmann, Leslie Fiedler and Sean O'Faolain, or the gushiness of Sylvia Plath, Kenner is invariably a pleasure to read and learn from. A zesty, commendable book. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this companion to his recent Mazes ( LJ 4/1/89), Kenner collects 43 short essays and reviews published between 1970 and 1990. They are informal, often personal in tone. While many have a subterranean link to Kenner's preoccupation with Pound, Joyce, and High Modernism, the range of subject matter and interests is vast, from the sculptor Augustino del Duccio to Samuel Beckett. There are also a number of familiar pieces such as ``Who Was Leslie Fiedler?'' If Kenner is sometimes an intellectual exhibitionist and some of the topical allusions are dated, his essays nonetheless remain a delight to read.-- T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820317748
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Pages: 344

Meet the Author


Hugh Kenner was the Franklin and Callaway Professor of English at the University of Georgia. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including The Pound Era, Joyce's Voices, and Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings.
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Table of Contents

The Hiddenmost Wonder 3
Ezra Pound and Homer 12
Poetic Closure 24
The Trouble of Ending 27
Dear Miss Weaver 31
On, Romanticism 35
Coleridge 40
Literary Biographies 46
The Poet and the Pirate 54
King Crank 67
A Torch in the Labyrinth 74
Kid Lit 79
A Thousand Lost Golf Balls 85
The Fourth Policeman 94
Poets at the Blackboard 109
Loove in Brooklyn 122
P.S. from H.D. 133
The Reader as Wailing Wall 137
Gerard Manley Hopkins 142
All the Angels Have Big Feet 146
Writing by Numbers 151
The Poet in the Grey Flannel Suit 158
Seraphic Glitter: Stevens and Nonsense 162
1680 Words on Duncan's Words 168
The Fiction of Free-Fall 174
From Lower Bellowvia 177
Beckett Translating Beckett 184
Some Post-Symbolist Structures 203
Who Was Leslie Fiedler? 218
The Invention of the "Other" 229
Breaking the Line 235
Williams's Rhythm of Ideas 243
Maynard Mack's Pope 249
The Traffic in Words 256
Wyndham Lewis: Satirist as Barbarian 266
Going to Hell 282
Beckett at Eighty 289
Sweet Seventeen 296
Nabokov (Tyrants Destroyed) 300
Lisping in Numbers 305
Self-Similarity, Fractals, Cantos 317
Riddley Walker 328
Keys to the Kingdom 331
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