Item description for After thirty Falls: New Essays on John Berryman (DQR Studies in Literature) by Philip Coleman...
Prefaced by an account of the early days of Berryman studies by bibliographer and scholar Richard J. Kelly, "After thirty Falls" is the first collection of essays to be published on the American poet John Berryman (1914-1972) in over a decade. The book seeks to provoke new interest in this important figure with a group of original essays and appraisals by scholars from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and the United States. Exploring such areas as the poet's engagements with Shakespeare and the American sonnet tradition, his use of the Trickster figure and the idea of performance in his poetics, it expands the interpretive framework by which Berryman may be evaluated and studied, and it will be of interest to students of modern American poetry at all levels. What makes the collection particularly valuable is its inclusion of previously unpublished material - including a translation of a poem by Catullus and excerpts from the poet's detailed notes on the life of Christ - thereby providing new contexts for future assessments of Berryman's contribution to the development of poetry, poetics, and the relationship between scholarship and other forms of writing in the twentieth century.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.06" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.02" Weight: 1.32 lbs.
Release Date May 31, 2007
ISBN 9042022191 ISBN13 9789042022195
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Reviews - What do customers think about After thirty Falls: New Essays on John Berryman (DQR Studies in Literature)?
Not what they were after Jun 26, 2008
The purpose of this book, says its editor, is to rekindle scholarly interest in John Berryman's work. So a group of Ph.D.s (mostly) in Literature, who have mined Berryman in various ways for years, assemble a book of critical essays to protect their brand. The effort ligitimates them, in their own eyes at least, but does little more than emphasize each one's favorite critical approach. They eschew linking his poems with his life, and, doing so, miss what Berryman was up to: Writing briography as intellectual history, intellectual history as biography, and the reaction to both by self passing through a particular time.
The contributors miss significance in Berryman's suicide, death by bridge; the importance of bridge as symbol for Berryman, connecting two worlds (vicarious and real, Europe and America, all the dualities); and their connection to Berryman's interest in Hart Crane, where bridges loom large and also fail to span. They have no explanation for Dream Song 113, which has baffled everyone, but for which there's a simple explanation--his first encounter with Feminism (before a word was coined for it) among college women who were his intellectual peers. Or that The Ball Poem foreshadows all that Berryman wrote. Or how loss is inevitable once one chooses to live in vicarious experience, as the vicarious is ever being displaced by the real, or how making that choice leads to using art to avoid hurt, or how that habit mutates into the theme of Berryman's work, the horror of existence. "They never find you out," he said, secure in his opinion of intellectualizing critics, who overlook even the importance of his feeling Irish and his relation to Joyce. Without biography, Berryman's poetry sublimates like ice to vapor.
Being literary persons, the authors overlook other approaches. Berryman's poems and behavior can be viewed as manifestations of the mania of acute alcoholism, a well documented pathology. So mythic, monomythic, prosodic, and theodisic essays are found here, but none on Psychology. The literary approaches that are deployed aren't suitably audacious, given their subject: none tries to evaluate Berryman through a persona, as if Auden or Yeats. There's no fun here, duty only, so the authors fail to communicate their enthusiam and lapse to the pedestrian.
This book manifests what criticism has become--a line in the vita, self-indulgence or self-amusement by self-absorbed specialists--not illumination of a text. The parochial result will produce the opposite of what its contributors had in mind, revived interest in their speciality. What Berryman scholarship needs is a critical concordance that connects his work to his life. Without it, his poems will grow as obscure as his critics.