Not only does it uncannily anticipate many of the themes and ideas that became preoccupations in feminist analysis upon Woolf's "rediscovery" many dec...moreNot only does it uncannily anticipate many of the themes and ideas that became preoccupations in feminist analysis upon Woolf's "rediscovery" many decades later, it is a very accessible and readable analysis of Woolf's major texts up to that time (The Years and Between the Acts had yet to be written). Ruth Gruber's own account of writing this dissertation and meeting Woolf herself as a young American Jewish woman studying in Germany in the 1930's is a fascinating read in and of itself.
And remarkably, Ms. Gruber still appears to be alive and well at the ripe old age of 99, making her a rather remarkable link to this era now long-past.(less)
For a (relatively brief) introduction to key critical/theoretical perspectives on these two texts, this is a pretty nifty little compilation, nicely s...moreFor a (relatively brief) introduction to key critical/theoretical perspectives on these two texts, this is a pretty nifty little compilation, nicely selected and arranged by Goldman. (less)
I'm presuming that like myself most casual fans of Moore are generally unaware of the issues surrounding the access and availability of this great Mod...moreI'm presuming that like myself most casual fans of Moore are generally unaware of the issues surrounding the access and availability of this great Modernist's poetry: a relentless and scrupulous revisor, Moore reworked and re-published many of her poems throughout her long life, and so any given poem, even her most famous, often have multiple versions. Which is all fine and good, and in the end, perhaps not all that unique of a situation either.
The major point of contention, however, is that in the majority of the time Moore wanted her latest revisions be considered the final expression of her authorial intention, and as such, the only major collection of her work continuously in print, Complete Poems, represent the last revisions she was able to complete before her death in 1972. The potential problem of this situation, however, is that her final revisions are often radically different than earlier versions—an anthology I used this last semester included both the 1921 and 1967 versions of "Poetry," the former a (beautiful and eloquent) 30 lines; the latter, however, is solely comprised of the first three lines of the 1921 version. And so a curious situation was created: one of Modernism's great poets was often read, judged and enjoyed not for the poems that made her famous in the 1920's and 30's, but for the poems as she "saw" them at the end of her life in the 60's and 70's.
Which might not be an issue for some, but if you wished to have a sense of Moore's poetry in historical context, the situation quickly becomes a labyrinthine nightmare—what if, say, you interpret a poem as a response to a 1920's event, and then come to find out later that the most important content supporting that reading wasn't actually part of the poem until some four decades after the fact? Not that it was easy to check if this was the case, for Moore's niece and literary executor held to her aunt's wishes and wouldn't allow for earlier editions of poems to be reprinted.
Enter Becoming Marianne Moore, meant to both honor Moore's final wishes and make her earlier versions and revisions widely available. Not the biography the title makes it sound like, this is instead a large collection of facsimile copies of Moore's early publications, and all scrupulously annotated and organized by its editor Robin G. Schulze. It's a wondrous, fascinating volume, to say nothing of its historical value. Problem is it's a big reference book instead of an accessible and readable collection—but hey, something is better than nothing, right? (less)
Entertaining, informative, and endlessly readable, which compensates for a perhaps inevitable thinness. As a survey/overview it likely won't yield a w...moreEntertaining, informative, and endlessly readable, which compensates for a perhaps inevitable thinness. As a survey/overview it likely won't yield a whole lot--aside from the choice bits of tasteful gossip--to a reader already somewhat aware of the terrain it covers, which is perhaps is why I had more or less the opposite reaction of many here who thought it ran out of steam as it went along; I happen to be interested in and know more about the authors covered early in the book (Baldwin, Vidal, Capote), but not as much about more recent authors, so for me the latter half was more compelling. The highlight, I think, is Bram's astute analysis and defense of Christopher Isherwood's oeuvre, who still remains rather underrated despite a recent reignition of interest in his work (I for one was startled to find out how many of his novels I had never even heard of).
Bram's style is very approachable and lucid, and it's like listening to a literate and culturally knowledgeable friend hold forth on books, art, and history. I personally was hoping for something more along the lines of Sheri Benstock's magisterial Women of the Left Bank, a more dense undertaking that combines literary analysis with historical scholarship, but I don't hold my expectations against Bram. Because this is clearly intended to be accessible cultural scholarship, and on that level it overall succeeds admirably. And if it gets people, myself included, to pick up the work of more of these authors, well then, all the better. (less)