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Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  13 ratings  ·  3 reviews

"Because I am not silent," George Oppen wrote, "the poems are bad." What does it mean for the goodness of an art to depend upon its disappearance? In "Being Numerous," Oren Izenberg offers a new way to understand the divisions that organize twentieth-century poetry. He argues that the most important conflict is not between styles or aesthetic politics, but between poets wh
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Paperback, 234 pages
Published January 23rd 2011 by Princeton University Press (first published January 3rd 2011)
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Kevin Lawrence
This is a very self-consciously philosophical book that is eager to demonstrate how well read Izenberg is in the areas of language philosophy, epistemology, phenomenology, and (a much vaguer notion of) ontology as it relates to those philosophical fields. Simultaneously, Izenberg is eager to show that he is not a partisan reader of poetry by focusing on three poets I don’t think most readers would necessarily relate with one another (Yeats, Oppen, and O’Hara, with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry an impor ...more
Jeff
What it lacks in literary chops it makes up for in the courage of its insight into the way poems create interiority -- "the person" it takes to be the ground of poetry as a social activity. Izenberg's father was my professor in two grad-school classes, and Gerald Izenberg, pere, works on the intellectual history of individuality and identity, so the younger's warrant for his work on interiority will seem generous to me. Oren Izenberg claims early on that what he's doing is unusual, an irritating ...more
Gordon Hilgers
Just as it is a good thing to give yourself a break and read a little science fiction simply to crank-up the dream machine, it's sometimes good to take yourself out on a limb, read the difficult book of poetry criticism and blow your mind in the process. Oren Izenberg's "Being Numerous" studies how contemporary and modern poetry relate as poems to society in general, and this topic, unsurprisingly, is wide open and always growing.

The author ranges from W. B. Yeat's almost mystical sense of audie
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