One of America's major literary critics, Davenport elucidates a range of literary history, encompassing literature, art, philosophy and music, from the ancients to the grand old men of modernism. His interests, or more accurately his passions, encompassed everything from Greek myths to Joyce's symbols, from the poetry of Pound to the photography of Ralph Eugene Meatyard. As Michael Dirda observed, "He can make you yearn to look again at neglected masters like the poets Charles Olson and Louis Zukofsky and the painters Balthus and Charles Birtzfield." But, at his core, he remains the ideal teacher, connecting the dots of art, literature, and culture in a perfect balance of enthusiasm and information.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I go back to this book when I am feeling too tired to read anything new, or feeling dull or complacent. Most of these essays involve making connections among writers and books and ideas, getting to the heart of a book I've never read in a way that gets me excited to pick it up.
While the backbone of this collection is its defense and decoding of the great modernists (Joyce, Pound) and early postmodernists (Zukofsky, Olson), the book also forays ceaselessly into all sorts of other areas: Dogon myth, Wittgenstein, Shaker aesthetics, hobbitry, the invention of the buttonhole, Stan Brakhage, and Indian arrowheads, to name but a few. Davenport's true genius is his ability to synthesize: he arranges these disparate subjects into a single staggering design so complete that the book seems to contain no digressions, only elaborations. A thrilling collection; highly recommended.