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The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays (Nonpareil Book, 78): 10 (Nonpareil Books, 10)

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Davenport's playful explanation for his technique was, "You get up in the morning and you've got Keats' 'Odes' to take some sophomores through, and you've got a chapter of 'Ulysses' for your graduate students, and the mind gets in the habit of finding cross-references among subjects. I love the chapters that deal with translation, and appreciate all the insights to so many of my favorite authors, which heretofore, were simply favorites without too much knowledge of anecdotes about them, or the tongue of Davenport to bring them alive. The Greek says "of Odysseus the loved son," and Professor Lattimore translates "the dear son of Odysseus. The great modernist archaic, our Montaigne by way of Emerson, whose thoughts elide easily such disparates as Ancient Greece and the Old Testament and Kafka's Prague or Joyce's nightworld, to show us there are no disparities, no true separation, that the human culture which creates the great works of Art is the flame which needs to be kindled, to be carried in a horn through the night as embers for generation unto generation, who makes in these essays a prose-place like eddies out of the River of Time, where the first thought and the last thought commingle and speak with each other and their voices attend to every force that has evolved a form, and every noble creative impulse is resolved into a concept, a graspable infinite, a gift for humanity. Guy Davenport provides links between art and literature, music and sculpture, modernist poets and classic philosophers, the past and present—and pretty much everything in between.

I had purchased it because I liked the name of the book and its strong patterned cover as well as the name of its author. He spoke five languages and wrote more than 40 books, and he once casually mentioned that he was in the habit of corresponding with “between a hundred and two hundred people,” among them John Updike. As a scholar I have always kept literature and painting together as a compound subject, the one complementing the other: Milton and Dürer, Joyce and Tchelitchew, Apollinaire and Picasso, Kafka and Klee, Whistler and Henry James. Davenport provides links between art and literature, music and sculpture, modernist poets and classic philosophers, the past and present. Davenport breaks down various lines from multiple translations of Homer's epic to show how the translator will always recreate his own version of the original.Yet we constantly see and hear stories of betrayal, and many people have personally experienced a destructive breach of loyalty. He’s a genius, sure, but also a delightful, generous example of how exhilarating the life of the mind can be. For respite, you can turn to the last quarter of this book having some light, breezy essays: Trees, Table Manners, Jack Yeats the Elder, an endearing portrait of John Butler Yeats, "one of the most gifted portraitists in the history of art; the father of Jack Yeats, Ireland's greatest painter, and of William Butler Yeats, Ireland's greatest poet", Hobbitry about how Tolkien found those fanciful names, etc.

William Blake preceded him here, on the irreality of clock time, sensing the dislocations caused by time (a God remote in time easily became remote in space, an absentee landlord), and proceeding, in his enthusiastic way, to dine with Isaiah—one way of a suggesting that Isaiah’s mind is not a phenomenon fixed between 742 and 687 B. Their hair was curled with irons heated in an open fire, then oiled, then shoved into a bonnet it would tire a horse to wear. I came to the book for Davenport's essay on his neighbor, the photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard (both men worked and flourished in the same "rotting Kentucky town", Lexington), but all 40 of these essays (written in the 1970's) are well worth devouring.

It's the sort of nuances that words possess that only a true poet like Davenport can recognize and appreciate. To have closed the gap between mythology and botany is but one movement of the process; one way to read The Cantos is to go through noting the restorations of relationships now thought to be discrete—the ideogrammatic method was invented for just this purpose.

He can account for the importance of prehistoric cave art to early modernism or outline the achievements of Joyce and Pound. Their common subject, motion, the robust real, skilled and purposeful action, was distinctly American, an invention. Forty essays on history, art, and literature from one of the most incisive, and most exhilarating, critical minds of the 20th century. Whitman," Kafka told his friend Gustav Janouch, "belongs among the greatest formal innovators in the modern lyric.He speculates about the meaning of modernity, but he also recounts his heroic attempts to extinguish a flaming Jean-Paul Sartre (the famed existentialist had carelessly jammed a lighted pipe in his pocket) and his fruitless efforts to learn Old English from a professor who talked to his toes (the mumbler’s name was J.

The remainder of the twentieth century (most miserable of ages since the Barbarians poured into Rome) might profitably be spent putting together the human achievements which tyranny has kept behind walls. There has been no finer movement in American art, nor a more fertile one (from Muybridge, through Edison, the whole art of film), and yet their impact was generally felt to be offensive.A pure display of unmatched intellect which never ceases to unveil art and ideas previously unknown.

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