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Can Robert Duncan's Literary Vision Save American Art?

The H.D. Book cover imageThe just-released H.D. Book, Robert Duncan’s homage to the modernist poet H.D. that eventually developed into a unique quest toward a new poetics, is turning heads in literary circles, and not just because of that handsome photo on the cover.

Publishers Weekly, Bookforum, The New Republic, and The Nation have all praised the book for the way it reignites a debate about the task of modern poetics and offers guidance for the modern artist.

TNR‘s Jed Perl believes The H.D. Book may even be “the book that could save American art,” saying it “reads like a clarion call. At a time such as ours, when artists are either embattled or co-opted, either locked away in some ivory tower of their own invention or overtaken by market forces and political forces, Duncan argues for the most strenuous artistic ambitions as a dynamic democratic possibility.”

Bookforum’s Erik Davis writes, “Duncan’s enormous daybook crackles with a timeless and disarming wisdom, but in a timely manner appropriate to our era of samples and networks—an era still unsure about how to read those uncanny figures that animate visionary literature as well as the literature of vision.”

PW says “Duncan’s great meditation on modernism’s last remaining question mark finally sees print.”

And in a long and thoughtful review of the book in the February 21 issue of The Nation, Ange Mlinko writes, “As a testimony to poetic vocation, it could not be clearer, and in these confusing times a young poet could use the encouragement…”

The publication of The H.D. Book is part of UC Press and the Jess Collins Trust’s publishing project, The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan.

Read the first chapter (PDF).

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2 comments to Can Robert Duncan’s Literary Vision Save American Art?

  • I had a chance to read the Nation’s review of this book in the article titled, “Duncan’s Divagations: On Robert Duncan and H.D.”. I think it will be a really interesting read for sure.

    They had an interesting assessment of his work near the end of that review where they made this comment: “Is that contrarianism, or is it faith? For Duncan, as for all serious poets, there may be no difference.”

    He seems like a really interesting character for sure…hope to pick this up soon to learn more about him!

  • Zak

    Read the first chapter, brilliant!

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