Quotation and Modern American Poetry: "Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads"
Why did quotation come into vogue among modernist American poets when, historically, allusion had been the preferred mode of intertextual reference? Elizabeth Gregory argues that quotation served as a site of these poets' struggle with questions of literary authority and, relatedly, of cultural and gender identity. While different poets quoted very different kinds of texts to very different effects, their shared reliance on quotation suggests their commonality of concerns - concerns that remain of interest in the postmodernist world, where quotation has become the prevalent artistic method. Gregory reads the efflorescence of poetic quotation as part of an attempt to redefine the sources of authority in the modernist world, in which traditional hierarchies of all kinds seemed to be disintegrating. For Americans and for women this breakdown offered an opportunity, since they had long occupied a secondary position in the reigning cultural and gender orders. But it was an opportunity with a cost, and not all poets welcomed it. Through close readings of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, William Carlos William's Paterson, and a selection of the poetry of Marianne Moore, the author explores the spectrum of modernist response to these issues and the ways in which each poet used quotation to establish a very different position of authority for him or herself. Eliot employs quotation to reassert old hierarchies and, by denying his Americanness, to claim a place of authority within them. Moore, oppositely, employs quotation as a means of questioning hierarchy and of laying claim to a kind of anti-authoritative authority for herself. Williams takes an insistently ambivalent position toward authority,represented most clearly in his schizophrenic attitudes toward gender.
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acknowledge ambivalence American Grain argues argument Arnaut authority biblical borrowing canon Chaucer citations cited claims complexity context creativity cubist culture Dante Death by Water demonstrated direcdy earlier echoes effect Eliot Emerson epigraph essay father female feminine figures gender hierarchy influence instance involves kind letters lines literary male Marianne Moore Mary Warner masculine means metaphor Milton modern modernist Moore's poem mother Nardi narrative nostalgia nostalgic notes oedipal originality overt allusions Paradise Lost particular past Paterson pattern Pervigilium Veneris Peter Ackroyd phrase poem poem's poet poet's poetic poetry position Pound present prose quotation marks quotes readers reference relation represents revision role romantic Sappho secondary seems sense silence song sources speak specifically speech stanza story structure suggests T. S. Eliot tation texts tion tradition transformation voice Waste Land Whitman William Carlos Williams Williams's woman women words writing
Page 15 - And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.