Hotel Lautréamont

Overview

Critics, scholars, students, and other readers of contemporary poetry have long appreciated Ashbery's uncanny mastery of the cadence and lyricism of colloquial speech, but they have been less sensitive to the equally important influences in his work of such "outsider" French poets as Arthur Rimbaud, Raymond Roussel, and Isidore Ducasse (a/k/a Count de Lautréamont). These sometimes overlooked presences are wonderfully alive in this collection of lyric poems, which first appeared in 1992. Now back in print, Hotel ...
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Hotel Lautréamont

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Overview

Critics, scholars, students, and other readers of contemporary poetry have long appreciated Ashbery's uncanny mastery of the cadence and lyricism of colloquial speech, but they have been less sensitive to the equally important influences in his work of such "outsider" French poets as Arthur Rimbaud, Raymond Roussel, and Isidore Ducasse (a/k/a Count de Lautréamont). These sometimes overlooked presences are wonderfully alive in this collection of lyric poems, which first appeared in 1992. Now back in print, Hotel Lautréamont underscores Ashbery's ability to be both tragic and playful, dense and volatile, passionate and impersonal. As David Herd observed in New Statesman and Society, this is "a poetry fully and startlingly engaged with the way things happen."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Blandishments, chitchat, jokes, parodies, personae and all kinds of slang circulate freely through Ashbery's ( April Galleons ) latest collection. As always, his work will frustrate readers who must know just what it's about. Curious and spectacular details no sooner come up than they vanish; distractions and even boredom have their places; and Ashbery's central preoccupations--passing time, the ambiguities of identity--are as ordinary as they are enduring. The title of the volume alludes to the self-styled Comte de Lautreamont, a 19th-century French author much admired by the Surrealists. By putting the count's name to a commercial establishment for travelers--or providing him with a family seat--Ashbery leads us to consider his relation, as an American, to the traditions of French poetry. He is a past master at slipping across established boundaries of discourse, and the limit of his work is perhaps that it is so entirely urbane. Tempered by irony, his poems are mitigated by sentiment, as if their author is resigned to the fact that the conventions they send up are about as satisfactory as anything gets. Still, the poems continually surprise us with the question of what to make of them. Are they psychological evocations, linguistic abstractions, a commentary on the way we live now, confused echoes of a redeemed tongue, or simply arbitrary in their inspiration? Ashbery's art allows for all these readings--and then some. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In Ashbery's great work, the mysterious surfaces and atmospheres of his poetry are charged with a unique power, as evasive yet as luminous as an aurora borealis, rendering his difficulties well worth the undertaking for serious readers. Unfortunately, in his first book since last year's Flow Chart ( LJ 5/1/91), Ashbery seems caught in a tedium vitae that flattens out his best effects with inconsequences, the elegiac occulted by the depressive. In this collection, too long by at least half, Ashbery alternates between launching his style in a more jarringly surrealist direction and just meandering along, ``living the life/ reserved for those who have never thought things out clearly,'' telling us ``To mope/ is human; I mope, therefore I am.'' There are some lovely poems here, but they are crowded out by many lesser renditions written in the manner to which their author is perhaps too accustomed. For completists.-- Frank J. Lepkowski, Oakland Univ., Rochester, Mich.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402887895
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/1/1900
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 157
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Read an Excerpt

But it is shrouded, veiled: we must have made some ghastly error.

You mop your forehead with a rose, recommending its thorns.

Must we thrust ever onward, into perversity?

Only night knows for sure; the secret is safe with her.

You mop your forehead with a rose, recommending its thorns.

Research has shown that ballads were produced by all of society;

Only night knows for sure. The secret is safe with her:

the people, then, knew what they wanted and how to get it.

-from "Hotel Lautréamont"

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Table of Contents

Light Turnouts 3
And Forgetting 4
The Large Studio 6
The Garden of False Civility 8
Autumn Telegram 10
Notes from the Air 11
Still Life with Stranger 13
Hotel Lautreamont 14
On the Empress's Mind 17
The Phantom Agents 18
From Estuaries, from Casinos 19
Cop and Sweater 22
Musica Reservata 24
Susan 26
The King 27
The Whole is Admirably Composed 29
By Forced Marches 31
Autumn on the Thruway 33
The Little Black Dress 38
Part of the Superstition 39
The Art of Speeding 42
American Bar 44
From Palookaville 46
Another Example 49
Avant de Quitter Ces Lieux 50
The White Shirt 52
Baked Alaska 53
Private Syntax 58
Not Now but in Forty-five Minutes 59
In Another Time 61
Withered Compliments 62
The Wind Talking 63
Joy 66
Irresolutions on a theme of La Rochefoucauld 67
A Call for Papers 69
Love's Old Sweet Song 71
Wild Boys of the Road 73
Le Mensonge de Nina Petrovna 75
Of Linnets and Dull Time 77
Korean Soap Opera 78
A Driftwood Altar 81
Poem at the New Year 83
Central Air 84
The Youth's Magic Horn 87
Brute Image 89
Of Dreams and Dreaming 90
Seasonal 93
Kamarinskaya 94
Elephant Visitors 96
The Great Bridge Game of Life 97
The Departed Lustre 99
Villanelle 101
A Sedentary Existence 103
Erebus 104
The Old Complex 107
Where We Went for Lunch 108
As Oft It Chanceth 111
Retablo 112
A Mourning Forbidding Valediction 114
I Found Their Advice 116
French Opera 117
A Stifled Notion 119
Haunted Stanzas 120
Livelong Days 122
Quartet 124
[untitled] 127
Oeuvres Completes 128
Just Wednesday 130
In My Way/On My Way 132
No Good at Names 135
Film Noir 137
In Vain, Therefore 139
The Beer Drinkers 140
That You Tell 142
A Hole in Your Sock 144
And Socializing 145
Revisionist Horn Concerto 146
The Woman the Lion Was Supposed to Defend 148
Harbor Activities 150
It Must Be Sophisticated 151
Alborada 155
How to Continue 156
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