By Warner Berthoff
Probes postwar American writers' abandonment of distinguishing good points of literary workmanship in writings considered as testaments of non-public survival and displays at the clients of literature in a time of cultural situation and waft
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Extra info for A Literature Without Qualities: American Writing Since 1945
Marep111an. M npaBOM 38 A Literature Without Qualities. style of Delmore Schwartz's story collection of 1948, The World Is a Wedding); more distantly, to Poe's journalism-based notions of a frictionless expressive purity; perhaps ultimately, in American usage, to the formalized plain speaking of rigorous antinomian purifiers like the early Quakers and Baptists. For all these diverse practitioners, a fluent or genial ex pressiveness is potentially defiling. * A textual abttndance that no longer appears concerned with formal fitness has become something like an architectonic norm.
3aU\"1U\eHHbllii aBropCK"1M npaaoM 21 A Generation in Retreat In any event one is not required to argue that, in relation either to other literatures or, for that matter, to our own national past, the genetic pool of talent and ambition in the United States has mysteriously gone dry. Quite the opposite, i11 fa ct. If we can iden tify any new writers worth attentive reading, and re-reading, over the past thirty or forty years, we can identify all too many; too many, tl1at is, for pur poses of a concise summing up.
JaU11>1U1eHHblii1 asropcK1>1M npasoM A Generation in Retreat 37 form it represented was demonstrably succeeding: ''After all I know I really do know that it can be "? 14 done and if it can be done why do it Nor, to repeat, is the whole idea of some terminal or else metamorphic crisis in the history of literature and the arts peculiar to the special disaffections of the last two or three decades. The meteoric career of Rimbaud's self-consun1ing genius and Nietzsche's sardonic prophecies and subsequent madness, in par ticular, burned this idea into twentieth-century con sciousness, but the scandal of it \Vas ft1lly advertised in Hegel's lectures on aesthetics in the 1820s, 15 and, earlier still, in the conventionalized pessimism of the progress-of-poetry poem: Collins, Gray, Blake, and Wordsworth most men1orably (i11 English).