Cavell and Improvisation in The Wallace Stevens Journal

By | May 16, 2012

Two very nice reviews in the Spring 2012 issue of The Wallace Stevens Journal"

Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism marks a fruition of the available criticism on Cavell’s relation to literary studies. It conveys the sense of a thorough assimilation of Cavell’s project that reflects a deep—and sometimes long—acquaintance with it on the part of many of the contributors. […] This volume is specialised but accessible, and evinces a real companionship of endeavour without being protective or exclusive. More in the spirit of Cavell’s work than to the letter of it, this companionship permits disagreement, divergence of opinion, and even critique. Such an attitude is a better compliment than reverence, showing both seriousness of engagement and, for some, true intellectual influence. […] The collection as a whole is a rich exploration of Cavell’s relation to literary studies, and a broader statement of belief in the dividends of reading.” – The Wallace Stevens Journal (Rachel Malkin, Cambridge University, UK).

“In his Improvisation and the Making of American Literary Modernism, a deft and skilful close listening to the works and experiences of canonical modernist poets Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, and Wallace Stevens, Rob Wallace (a professor of literature and a drummer as well) intercedes in a vexed field of collaboration. He attempts to realign the terms of the conversation between poetry and jazz, and to understand improvisation as a discipline. […] In structure and principled intent, Wallace’s intervention recalls no book to my mind more than Frank Lentricchia’s classic study Modernist Quartet. As a method, Wallace’s work more expertly answers Henri Lefebvre’s inimitable call for a textual/contextual rhythmanalysis. […] The book seems to jettison (to the good, I think) a formalised system of modernist improvisational theory and practice derived from the work and lives of Pound, Hughes, Stein, and Stevens, and their critics. Wallace achieves instead a brilliant and tactful method of listening to the work of these writers as each reaches for their unique sense of sense. […] Listening over his shoulder in Improvisation and the Making is a rare, informative pleasure.” – The Wallace Stevens Journal (Ed Pavlić, University of Georgia, USA)

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