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

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Here was a man who lamented that Latin was no longer part of the standard curriculum, and subsisted on Snickers and deli meats. In a wonderful essay on Davenport, the critic Wyatt Mason proposes that his short stories are answers to the question, “What if we were free? I always seemed to find myself book browsing on rainy afternoons when I would wander up the book shelved hallway into my bedroom where, lying aslant my bed, I'd dip into the bottom shelf of my large bookcase there, in the semi-darkness, and lazily cruise in and out of various volumes.

Davenport compares the various translations of Odyssey: Chapman, Logue, Bryant,Lattimore, Fitzgerald, Pope, Fenton, and Broome, Butcher and Lang, Samual Butler, Col. His longtime partner, whom he never married, was a woman; his short stories are a writhing mass of gay trysts.He’s won several awards, including the Whiting and the National Magazine Award and the Windham-Campbell Prize. 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 geography of the imagination would be a third construing of cultural divisions, showing, for instance, the areas of the portrait, the epic, the novel, the symphony. He had such deep knowledge on so many subjects, he could point the reader down a dozen paths that might be interesting. It seems that a way with the suggestive fragment, the connective anecdote—“let the song lie in the thing!

If the success of man as a political, companionable animal whose culture has thus far progressed to families living in cities, that achievement of humanity is dying, Joyce saw. Partly because of his focus (the modernists, and particularly Pound) and partly because of his writing style, Davenport’s work reminds me somewhat of that of Hugh Kenner. An intimate, philosophic quest for eternity, amidst the disenchantments and disappointments of our time “Anyone who, in our age of disbelief, longs to believe in God will find Mr. Not only has he seemingly read (and often translated from the original languages) everything in print, he also has the ability, expressed with unalloyed enthusiasm, to make the connections, to see how cultural synapses make, define, and reflect our civilization.One thing I particularly like about a few of the essays is that many of the points Davenport makes in his discussions of painting and literature seem exclusive to him--at least to the extent that I have not seen these points made in other commentators' work, for what that's worth.

A page of Mandelstam's prose is a kind of algebra of ironies over which the same hand has drawn comic furniture and objects with a life of their own a la Chagall. Rumor had it that he was attracted to both men and women, but he never made any public declarations about his sexuality. Kate Colby's sixth book is a personal ars poetica that looks back on her previous work and asks what she meant to say, what she keeps meaning to, and how to mean more. And that’s one of the marks of great literature — even after half a dozen readings, it still holds your attention, and you’re still aha-ing over things you missed the last time around.

Far from wanting a word to be invisible, unassertive, the makeshift vehicle for something else ("idea," "thought"), I want every word to be wholly, thoroughly a word. Whereas I thought I knew something about the humanities and their historical perspective, I was astonished at how limited my fractional knowledge really was, and how ably Mr.

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