Joe's Reviews > Souls of the Labadie Tract

Souls of the Labadie Tract by Susan Howe
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Feb 14, 12

bookshelves: poetry
Read in January, 2012

It is wrong to write a review of her book on hand but if I don't do it while procrastinating at work I wont do it. This is I think as good a place to start with Howe's later work as any. Her work has always been intertextual but after Europe of Trusts her sources become more remote and access to her work across increasingly slender bridges. And as much as I like THE IDEA of an entire book on bedhangings, I think I first need someone to convince me how a book on bed hangings fits--nay hinges!--into a post-feminist critique of the domestic interior or something like that?

Souls is an engagement with an American, Puritan(?) Utopian community that moved from the Netherlands to Cecil County, MD. In chopping up and piecing back together the language of an extreme form of Puritanism and the Utopian impulse, it in some ways maps the messy unconsciousness of the Labadists but also the many similar religious communities whose covenants eventually dissolved and left everyone just a citizen of America. It is both mournful and generative. This is probably a lot of over generalizing--but, hey, no book.

This one is leading me also toward Dan Beachy-Quick's Mulberry what do to its silk motif. And back toward Dickinson because duh. Man, I need to read more Dickinson.

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