By Jonathan Veitch
Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a author on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” yet earlier no critic has succeeded in totally attractive West’s specific approach to negation. In American Superrealism, Jonathan Veitch examines West’s letters, brief tales, screenplays and novels—some of that are mentioned right here for the 1st time—as good as West’s collaboration with William Carlos Williams in the course of their tenure because the editors of touch. finding West in a full of life, American avant-garde culture that stretches from Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol, Veitch explores the probabilities and boundaries of dada and surrealism—the use of readymades, scatalogical humor, human machines, “exquisite corpses”—as modes of social feedback. American Superrealism deals what's absolutely the definitive examine of West, in addition to a provocative research that unearths the problem of illustration because the relevant situation of Depression-era America.
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Extra resources for American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s
Lis Car Ringed Round with Brass Clamour the Seraphim Tongues of Our Lord Full Ringing Round As the Belly of SiXenus Giotto Painter of Perfect Circles Goes ... One Motion Round 30 PART I Round and Full Round and Full as A Brimming Goblet The Dew-Loaded Navel Of Mary Of Mary Our Mother Round and Ringing Full As the Mouth of a Brimming Goblet The Rust-Laden Holes In Our Lord's Feet Entertain the Jew-Driven Nails. (4-5) The subjects of West's burlesque are adumbrated in a quick succession of "perfect" circles: "A Brimming Goblet" (plenitude), "The Dew-Loaded Navel/Of Mary Our Mother" (Christianity), "Tender Buttons" (aestheticism).
Examples abound. One might point to West's penchant for writing in small, carefully cropped frames or episodes, linked in a loosely threaded narrative, whose recurrent motifs-laughter, violence, excess-are the real subjects of his novels. Or one might point just as easily to John Raskolnikov Gilson and his alter ego, Balso Snell. As confidence man and naif, they anticipate the recurrent struggle between "the cheaters and the cheated" that is one of West's most cherished themes. 9 Or finally, one might simply cite the dead rabbits (14), cardboard noses (14), and isosceles triangles (35), as well as the "Ambylornis inornata" (26), "the devil's serenade from Faust" (18), and "the chauffeur within" (29), which serve as runes for a set of concerns-the status of the "real," discursivity, sublimation, performance, hysteria, the constitution of the subject-to which West will return again and again.
They merely want to be entertained, and if that requires some nonsense about a six-foot man, so much the better. They are willing to pay for it. And that financial calculus-as "The Fake" so amply demonstrates-is the only "measure of man" that continues to have any meaning. I. ON ART AND ANIMAL ACTS "The Fake" anticipates many of the themes that West will take up in his first novella, The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931), and looks forward to Euclid's Asshole 27 several others-performance, the collapse of critical distance, commodification-that will preoccupy the author in the books to follow.
American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s by Jonathan Veitch
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