The Geography of the Imagination

The Geography of the Imagination In the essays that constitute this collection Guy Davenport one of America s major literary critics elucidates a range of literary history encompassing literature art philosophy and music fr

  • Title: The Geography of the Imagination
  • Author: Guy Davenport
  • ISBN: 9780865470002
  • Page: 481
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In the 40 essays that constitute this collection, Guy Davenport, one of America s major literary critics, elucidates a range of literary history, encompassing literature, art, philosophy and music, from the ancients to the grand old men of modernism.

    One thought on “The Geography of the Imagination”

    1. I've lost count of the times I read his essay on Whitman.Within a few miles of each other in the 1880s, Whitman was putting the last touches to his great book, Eadweard Muybridge was photographing movements milliseconds apart of animals, naked athletes, and women, and Thomas Eakins was painting surgeons, boxers, musicians, wrestlers, and Philadelphians. In a sense Muybridge and Eakins were catching up with Whitman’s pioneering. Their common subject, motion, the robust real, skilled and purpose [...]

    2. The great modernist archaic, our Montaigne by way of Emerson, whose thoughts elide easily such disparates as Ancient Greece and the Old Testament and Kafka's Prague or Joyce's nightworld, to show us there are no disparities, no true separation, that the human culture which creates the great works of Art is the flame which needs to be kindled, to be carried in a horn through the night as embers for generation unto generation, who makes in these essays a prose-place like eddies out of the River of [...]

    3. The Geography of the Imagination turned out to be my stimulating introduction to Guy Davenport, the multifaceted American man of letters. The forty essays here amply convey the range & depth of this fascinating mind.The title struck me as a paradox though: geography deals with boundaries whereas imagination is famously boundless. Geography is about cartography & you wonder if imagination needs mapping but Guy Davenport opines that imagination needs roots: "The imagination, like all thing [...]

    4. Jesus, this guy is smart. Like the sort of terrifying, broad-ranging intelligence that makes you just sit there in awe. He just rattles off a constellation of references and evidence, each one linking up to the next in a totally unexpected way. It would feel intimidating and/or wankish, except he comes off like he's probably a super nice guy, so you don't feel threatened at all-- rather, he invites the reader into the dialogue regarding Charles Ives or William Carlos Williams or Stan Brakhage or [...]

    5. I don't know whether it would have been inspiring or overwhelming to have attended Guy Davenport's classes at the University of Kentucky. I imagine it might have been a bit of both of those worlds. Luckily, his books exist and one can pick, choose, and read at one's own leisure without being overwhelmed.

    6. "There is no way to prepare yourself for reading Guy Davenport. You stand in awe before his knowledge of the archaic and his knowledge of the modern. Even more, you stand in awe of the connections he can make between the archaic and the modern; he makes the remote familiar and the familiar fundamental."— Los Angeles Times Book Review"As a critic, Davenport shines as an intrepid appreciator, an ideal teacher. By preference, he likes to walk the reader through a painting or a poem, teasing out t [...]

    7. Davenport is probably the rarest thing in American letters, an actual intellectual. He's the only rival American essayist to Emerson I can think of, and this is his Conduct of Life. Criticism since Matthiessen, Leavis, and Winters has been (and is with Bloom) about The Big Reading List. "The canon is for people who don't like to read," wrote Edmund White; so is it any surprise the canon is so popular? What would some people do without that kind of guidance? Would they think for themselves, or no [...]

    8. Reading these essays is like getting a short master class in each topic, while being in the presence of an extraordinary prose style. Sentence for sentence, Davenport is one of the most incredible writers we've produced. This book of essays of his is essential, I think, if you're at all interested in him.

    9. I wish every English teacher read this book and shared the insights with their students -- hopefully with shades of enthusiasm and passion like Guy Davenport.This is the sort of book that celebrates humanism and leaves the reader breathless, as if having attended a reception where everybody who was anybody from Homer and all his characters to Wittgenstein and beyond has been present and asked you some probing question. I love the chapters that deal with translation, and appreciate all the insigh [...]

    10. A Pre-Read Memoir of a Book Too Often Forgotten:(for Kalliope who requested it!!)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.Volumes of essays. "The Geography of the Imagination" was one of these.I had purchased it because I liked the name of the book and its [...]

    11. One of only a few books I can say for certain changed my life. I was twenty years old and had just moved to NYC, where I found a job within a couple weeks at Endicott Booksellers. I bought THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE IMAGINATION my first week there and through it I discovered many of the writers -Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson, Ronald Johnson, Jonathan Williams (and through Williams, with whom I struck up a correspondence, dozens more writers)- that I would spend my early 20s exploring.Too bad a worthle [...]

    12. Shifting perceptions of landscape from topographical features we encounter in space to milemarkers in whole though cannons, Davenport brings readers across bridges linking Olson, Pound, Greek myth, Joyce, traditional symbolism of the Angles, and the revival of Old Russian the first two essays. A total mindflare.

    13. Some of these essays really aren't for me. Case 'n point: Another Odyssey. Davenport breaks down various lines from multiple translations of Homer's epic to show how the translator will always recreate his own version of the original. That, in every translation, you get a lot of translator to go along with your Homer. It's not a profound observation in itself, but in his hands he showcases the variety of subtleties that each translator employs in his spin on the language of the original. It's th [...]

    14. I think I'm going to be "currently reading" this for the rest of my life. It's intellectually a bit thick, and not a cover-to-cover experience. The author finds it necessary to quote in foreign languages. I"m an American - no fair!

    15. I am not generally a fan of criticism but this is an order above. I've got to return to Eudora Welty thanks to Guy, and I loved his funny turn on Tolkien. First rate book. One of those books I didn't want to finish!

    16. Tremendous skeleton key to art and literature. Left me agape, staggering. The essay here on the Greek and Latin roots of Eudora Welty's fiction -- on the frickin' dendrology and etymology of myth in a Southern writer's imagery and prose, on how her characters, her words, even her trees are patterned off the thicket of Ovid's stories, of how the North Mississippi hill-country folks are actually a mirage of ancient Sicilians. just insaley good. Best evening of reading in a marathon of recent good [...]

    17. Quite an experience: almost certainly the most erudite, uncompromising essays I have read. Davenport wears his erudition -- even abstruseness -- like a badge, but without the arrogance that one would expect. He's an elitist in the best, most productive way. He alludes without bothering to translate, effortlessly recalls sparkling anecdotes, ranges as widely as anyone I've read (but definitely hunkers on his few touchstones: Joyce, Tchelitchew, Brakhage, Zukhovsky, the Dogon, Lascaux, Marianne Mo [...]

    18. A selection of well-written essays on modernist writers like Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Charles Olson and Marianne Moore. One thing I particularly like is that the points Davenport makes about the works he discusses seem exclusive to him—I have not seen them mentioned in work by other commentators. Both in his focus (the modernists, and particularly Pound) and in his writing style, Davenport’s work resonates with that of Hugh Kenner.

    19. he's at his best talking about ancient greece or modernist poetry; when he can combine the two (like when he's talking about pound) he's absolutely incredible. otherwise, at best: its of passing interest and cute; at worst: its hardly readable and impossibly dull. still gets four stars because the essays on pound, johnson, zukofsky, et al, the title piece, and some of the opening pieces are the best essays i've ever readsides: he writes about ronald johnson and tolkien, the greatest poet and nov [...]

    20. I’ve had a hard time with Guy Davenport’s fiction but his criticism and essays are excellent and reward multiple readings. He brings a sort of geological perspective to literature, a sense (in John McPhee’s phrase) of “deep time” that you don’t often find in American letters. I consider Geography of the Imagination one of the treasures of my home library.

    21. I go back to this book when I am feeling too tired to read anything new, or feeling dull or complacent. Most of these essays involve making connections among writers and books and ideas, getting to the heart of a book I've never read in a way that gets me excited to pick it up.

    22. I'm always reading this. The essays, and Davenport's mind, are a stunning display of learning and synthesis.

    23. One of my all time favorite books. Davenport unpacks the works of western literature,illuminating influences and inferences with passion and sensitivity. Such a treasure!

    24. What a terrific collection! I love the way Davenport bridges all the arts together with such ease! I loved reading about his funny literary run-ins with Pound and Sartre. Highly recommended.

    25. The interesting premise and smart analysis are great, but one has to get through a thick layer of pretension and Ezra Pound to get to it. While it's clear that he has a full command over the subjects that he writes about, it's often the subjects themselves that alienate. Still, I highly recommend the essay on Tolkien.

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