By Guy Davenport
Within the forty essays that represent this assortment, man Davenport, one in all America's significant literary critics, elucidates a variety of literary historical past, encompassing literature, artwork, philosophy and track, from the ancients to the grand outdated males of modernism.
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Additional info for The Geography of the Imagination
It is a world of involuted meaning like the house that jack Ruskin built, Ruskin being the Shaun to Charles Dodgson's Shem. The Wake dreams through ultimate absurdities of symbols, such as our dreams make us suffer, and through the tragic limitations of language which imprison us when we would be meaningful, and betray us, whatever our caution. Contemplating the sonorous midden of the Wake, William Carlos Williams decided to make an American model. He singled out a river even filthier than the Liffey, the yellow Passaic, and a New Jersy town with a name half Latin, pater, and half English, son; in America our parentage is European; and as Pound's Cantos begin-like H.
The oblong to the left is divided into rectangles, each corresponding to the lozenges in the other oblong, and each with a dot in its center. Nothing could be simpler: we doodle such designs on our scratchpads at committee and board meetings, and we are aware that pottery the world over bears such repetitious designs. So does embroidery, wallpaper, furniture, jewelry. Encountering such designs, we have the aestheticians to tell us that they are rhythmic ways of fi lling space and of pleasing the eye.
When language emerges, the verb to draw is the same as to write. We can see, and to some extent read, the drawings of primitive man. Mr. Marshack's triumph in this book is that he goes a long way in showing us that the writing of the old stone age is indeed writing, and that there are plausible ways of reading it. From the notches which tend to come in groups of thirty and thus look suspiciously like lunar counts, he turns to engraved artifacts which have been around for years ,in museum cases and proceeds with a brilliantly useful idea-that of incidence, or as he says, "time-factoring" -to find coherences in symbols which had been interpreted be fore as totemistic, magic, or sexual.
The Geography of the Imagination by Guy Davenport