Epic negation : the dialectical poetics of late modernism by Blanton, Charles Daniel

By Blanton, Charles Daniel

"Epic Negation examines the dialectical flip of modernist poetry over the interwar interval, arguing that overdue modernism inverts the strategy of Ezra Pound's "poem together with historical past" to conceive a negated mode of epic, predicated at the encryption of disarticulated ancient content material. pressured to sign up the strength of a totality it can't symbolize, this negated epic reorients the functionality of poetic language and Read more...


Epic Negation examines the dialectical flip of modernist poetry over the interwar interval, arguing that overdue modernism inverts the strategy of Ezra Pound's "poem together with background" to conceive a negated Read more...

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The inclusion of each item insists on its irreducibility, even while absorbing that insistence as metonymic evidence for something substantially larger. ”28 But The Criterion’s parceled logic pushes this effect still further. Eliot’s texts are not merely “part of empirical reality and society’s functional context,” but also refractions of other texts, opening formal relations that Adorno ascribes to medley or montage. The double character of the work of art, that is, originates in the double character of the partial text, its simultaneous and contradictory inclusion within two larger determining structures: one aspiring toward affirmation and autonomy (The Waste Land; The Cantos), the other exhibiting the impossibility of that aspiration (The Criterion).

To maintain the autonomy, and the disinterestedness, of every human activity, and to perceive it in relation to every other, require a considerable discipline. It is the function of a literary review to maintain the autonomy and disinterestedness, of literature, and at the same time to exhibit the relations of literature— not to “life,” as something contrasted to literature, but to all the other activities, which, together with literature, are the components of life. (421) At worst, Eliot here seems to found his enterprise in a performative contradiction, professing simultaneous fealty to a notion of aesthetic autonomy and to the range of heteronomous spheres from which it cannot assert a final independence.

8 It is almost impossible not to think of The Waste Land as a monument of one sort or another, the text that consolidated high modernism as an achieved poetic fact and established the iconic date of 1922 as the threshold moment in twentieth-century literary history. These abbreviated details of textual history, augmented decades later by the rediscovered typescript bearing Pound’s 24 EPIC NEGATION editorial notes and Eliot’s own revisions, seem to shrivel to so much incidental trivia against the simple weight of the modernism that Eliot and Pound made from them.

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