John Ashbery and American Poetry

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Palgrave, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 245 pages
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David Herd provides a critical language for a ppreciating the beauty and complexity of Ashbery's writing. Presenting the poet in all his forms--avant-garde, nostalgic, sublime, and camp--he demonstrates that the inventiveness of Ashbery's work has always been underpinned by the poet's desire to fit the poem to its occasion. Tracing Ashbery's development from his origins in the dazzling artistic world of 1950s New York, Herd portrays Ashbery as both an American pragmatist writing in the spirit of William James, and a committed literary internationalist learning from Boris Pasternak and the Russian avant-garde. His poetry is shown to be alive to such culturally defining issues as the growth of mass culture, the absence of God, the war in Vietnam, the emergence of AIDS, the erosion of tradition, and the decline of the avant-garde. Herd compares Ashbery's responses to the work of, among others, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara.

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John Ashbery and American poetry

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In 1979, Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and ever since he has embodied the paradox he ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

David Herd is Lecturer in English and American Literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

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