“The difference between the Parthenon and the World Trade Center, between a French wine glass and a German beer mug, between Bach and John Philip Sousa, between Sophocles and Shakespeare, between a bicycle and a horse, though explicable by historical moment, necessity, and destiny, is before all else a difference of imagination.
The imagination is like the drunk man who has lost his watch, and must get drunk again to find it. It is as intimate as speech and custom, and to trace its ways we need to re-educate our eyes.”Guy Davenport
Modernism spawned the greatest explosion of art, architecture, literature, painting, music, and dance of any era since the Renaissance. In its long unfolding, from Yeats, Pound and Eliot to Picasso and Matisse, from Diaghilev and Balanchine to Cunningham and Stravinsky and Cage, the work of Modernism has provided the cultural vocabulary of our time.
One of the last pure Modernists, Guy Davenport was perhaps the finest stylist and most protean craftsman of his generation. Publishing more than two dozen books of fiction, essays, poetry and translations over a career of more than forty years, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1990. In poetry and prose, Davenport drew upon the most archaic and the most modern of influences to create what he called “assemblages”lush experiments that often defy classification. Woven throughout is a radical and coherent philosophy of desire, design and human happiness. But never before has Davenport’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry and translations been collected together in one compendium. Eight years after his death, The Guy Davenport Reader offers the first true introduction to the far-ranging work of this neglected genius.
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About the Author
Guy Davenport was born in South Carolina and lived for more than forty years in Lexington, Kentucky, where he died in 2005. The author of more than twenty books, including Geography Of The Imagination, Eclogues and The Death Of Picasso , he was also a distinguished professor at the University of Kentucky and a MacArthur Fellow in 1990.
Erik Reece, himself a student of Davenport and now his literary executor, is also the author of Lost Mountain, An American Gospel and Field Work.
Table of Contents
Editor's Note ix
The Aeroplanes at Brescia 35
The Richard Nixon Freischütz Rag 55
A Field of Snow on a Slope of the Rosenberg 65
The Death of Picasso 101
Bronze Leaves and Red 123
A Gingham Dress 129
Belinda's World Tour 141
Gunnar and Nikolai 147
The Concord Sonata 183
August Blue 193
Boys Smell Like Oranges 207
Veranda Hung with Wisteria 219
The Geography of the Imagination 223
The Symbol of the Archaic 239
Ralph Eugene Meatyard 267
The Hunter Gracchus 277
On Reading 293
Spinoza's Tulips 305
A Letter to the Masterbuilder 315
What Are Revolutions? 325
The Medusa 339
The Resurrection in Cookham Churchyard 341
Poetry in Translation
Duino Elegy I 361
Logia in Translation
Journal I 389
Journal II 399
Afterword: Remembering Guy Davenport 405