Hart Crane's Poetry: "Appollinaire lived in Paris, I live in Cleveland, Ohio"

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JHU Press, Nov 21, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 440 pages
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In one of his letters Hart Crane wrote, "Appollinaire lived in Paris, I live in Cleveland, Ohio," comparing—misspelling and all—the great French poet’s cosmopolitan roots to his own more modest ones in the midwestern United States. Rebelling against the notion that his work should relate to some European school of thought, Crane defiantly asserted his freedom to be himself, a true American writer. John T. Irwin, long a passionate and brilliant critic of Crane, gives readers the first major interpretation of the poet’s work in decades.

Irwin aims to show that Hart Crane’s epic The Bridge is the best twentieth-century long poem in English. Irwin convincingly argues that, compared to other long poems of the century, The Bridge is the richest and most wide-ranging in its mythic and historical resonances, the most inventive in its combination of literary and visual structures, the most subtle and compelling in its psychological underpinnings. Irwin brings a wealth of new and varied scholarship to bear on his critical reading of the work—from art history to biography to classical literature to philosophy—revealing The Bridge to be the near-perfect synthesis of American myth and history that Crane intended.

Irwin contends that the most successful entryway to Crane’s notoriously difficult shorter poems is through a close reading of The Bridge. Having admirably accomplished this, Irwin analyzes Crane’s poems in White Buildings and his last poem, "The Broken Tower," through the larger context of his epic, showing how Crane, in the best of these, worked out the structures and images that were fully developed in The Bridge.

Thoughtful, deliberate, and extraordinarily learned, this is the most complete and careful reading of Crane’s poetry available. Hart Crane may have lived in Cleveland, Ohio, but, as Irwin masterfully shows, his poems stand among the greatest written in the English language.


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Part OneThe Bridge
1The Pictorial and the Poetic The Bridge as a Prophetic Vision of Origins
2The Visual Structure of Prophetic Vision a Simultaneous Glimpse Before and Behind
3Spenglers Reading of Perspective as a CultureSymbol
Columbus and Whitman Joseph Stella El Grecos Agony in the Garden the Grail Dionysus and Jesus
5Counterpoint in The Bridge
6Foreshadowing and Lateral Foreshadowing the Grail Quest Eliots The Waste Land
21Constellations Continued Panis Angelicus
22Time and Eternity Temporal Narrative and Spatial Configuration the Bridge as Memory Place Atlantis One Arc Synoptic of All Times
23Atlantis and the Image of Flight Shelleys To a Skylark Pater and the Tears of Dionysus
24Love and Light LoveasBridgeship Pater and Botticellis Venus Venus and the Rainbow FoamBorn Pyramids and Fire From Ritual to Romance Ven...
25Three Structures the Visualization of the Womb Fantasy in The Last Judgement the Transumptive Relationship
26Michelangelos SelfPortrait Marsyas and the Suffering Artist
Part TwoWhite BuildingsandThe Broken Tower
1Legend Black Tambourine Emblems of Conduct My Grandmothers Love Letters Sunday Morning Apples

7The Return to Origin the Total Return to the Womb the Primal Scene Vision and Invisibility the Dual Identification
8The Reversal of the Figures of Father and Mother in Indiana Cranes Dream of the Black Man by the River Cranes Quarrel with His Father the Comp...
9Cranes Dream of His Mothers Trunk in the Attic
10Fantasies of Return to the Womb and the Primal Scene Three Dimensions Reduced to Two as a Sign of Body Transcendence the Triple Archetype ...
11Building the Virgin Cranes To Liberty Lazaruss The New Colossus Helen and Psyche Astraea and the Constellation Virgo Demeter and Korē the Vi...
12The Education of Henry Adams Arnolds Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse Wandering between Two Worlds Senecas Medea Whitman and the ...
13Three Songs Golden Hair Quaker Hill and the Motherly Artist the Return of the Golden Age Astraea and Atlantis
Aeneas and Dido Survival through a PartObject Stellar Translation and the GoldenHaired Grain
15The Historical Pocahontas and the Mythical Quetzalcoatl Prescott Spence and D H Lawrence as Influences on The Bridge Waldo Franks Our Amer...
16Nietzsche and the Return of the Old Gods Zarathustra and Quetzalcoatl the Eagle and the Serpent the Dance
17The Aeneid Book 6 and The Tunnel Cutty Sark and Glaucus in Ovid Burnss Tam o Shanter Glaucus in Keatss Endymion
18Time and Eternity in Cutty Sark Stamboul Rose Atlantis Rose and Dantes Rose MobyDick and Cutty Sark
19The Historical Cutty Sark Hero and Leander Jason and the Argo Dante and the Argo
20Constellations and The Bridge
2Praise for an Urn Garden Abstract Stark Major Chaplinesque
3Pastorale In Shadow The Fernery North Labrador
4Repose of Rivers Paraphrase Possessions
5Lachrymae Christi
7The Wine Menagerie Recitative
8For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen
9At Melvilles Tomb Voyages I II III
10Voyages IV V VI
11The Broken Tower
The Bridge
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About the author (2011)

John T. Irwin is the Decker Professor in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. His other books include F. Scott Fitzgerald's Fiction: "An Almost Theatrical Innocence"; The Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytic Detective Story; and Unless the Threat of Death Is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir, all published by Johns Hopkins.

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