By Margueritte S. Murphy
From its inception in nineteenth-century France, the prose poem has embraced a cultured of concern and innovation instead of culture and conference. during this suggestive examine, Margueritte S. Murphy either explores the historical past of this style in Anglo-American literature and gives a version for interpreting the prose poem, regardless of language or nationwide literature. Murphy argues that the prose poem is an inherently subversive style, person who needs to without end undermine prosaic conventions so that it will validate itself as authentically "other". while, every one prose poem needs to to some extent recommend a standard prose style that allows you to subvert it effectively. The prose poem is hence of unique curiosity as a style within which the conventional and the recent are introduced unavoidably and constantly into clash.
Beginning with a dialogue of the French prose poem and its adoption in England by means of the Decadents, Murphy examines the consequences of this organization on later poets comparable to T.S. Eliot. She additionally explores the belief of the prose poem as an androgynous style. Then, with a sensitivity to the sociopolitical nature of language, she attracts at the paintings of Mikhail Bakhtin to light up the ideology of the style and discover its subversive nature. the majority of the ebook is dedicated to insightful readings of William Carlos Williams's Kora in Hell, Gertrude Stein's delicate Buttons, and John Ashbery's 3 Poems. As impressive examples of the yankee prose poem, those works exhibit the variety of this genre's radical and experimental probabilities.
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Extra info for A tradition of subversion: the prose poem in English from Wilde to Ashbery
Did it retain its subversive character, and if so, what were its objects? And did it attain any discursive power? There was a certain vogue for the genre during the fin de siècle, but it fell out of fashion not long after it appeared, only to resurface in the second decade of the next century. Yet the prose poem did not flourish at this time either; only in the United States in the 1960s do we find extensive use of the genre by poets writing in English. Why was it not a greater part of Anglo-American modernism, given the prominence of related experiments in fiction, the novels of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce as the most obvious examples?
These more radical texts make apparent the prose poem's characteristic amorphousness, its suspect heterogeneity, that accounts in part for its marginality and frequent difficulty. Evidence of this amorphousness appears as well in the extreme and often paradoxical terms used to describe the prose poem: Page 8 "the osmazome of literature, the essential oil of art" (Huysmans); "an Icarian art" (Suzanne Bernard); "the literary genre with an oxymoron for a name'' (Michael Riffaterre); "absolute counter-discourse" (Terdiman); "a genre that does not want to be itself" (Monroe).
Yet she hardly represents "le mâle" or "volonté" but rather the opposite, the unreachable feminine with an "ineffable and languishing look" in her eyes. " But it is her will that wins out, and he, the "adorer," is also the source of the illusions represented by the "ligne arabesque"the spiral stairway, the twisting Chimera, and the en- Page 26 chanting designs of the muted tapestries. So, not only is his will and desire denied, but also, in light of the gender distinctions of Baudelaire's thyrsus, he has assumed the feminine role, has been indeed feminized by his illusions and purposeless adoration.