John Ashbery and American Poetry by David Herd

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David Herd provides a critical language for a ppreciating the beauty and complexity of Ashbery’s writing. Presenting the poet in all his forms--avant-garde, nostalgic, sublime, and camp--he demonstrates that the inventiveness of Ashbery's work has always been underpinned by the poet’s desire to fit the poem to its occasion. Tracing Ashbery’s development from his origins in the dazzling artistic world of 1950s New York, Herd portrays Ashbery as both an American pragmatist writing in the spirit of William James, and a committed literary internationalist learning from Boris Pasternak and the Russian avant-garde. His poetry is shown to be alive to such culturally defining issues as the growth of mass culture, the absence of God, the war in Vietnam, the emergence of AIDS, the erosion of tradition, and the decline of the avant-garde. Herd compares Ashbery's responses to the work of, among others, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara.

About David Herd

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David Herd is Lecturer in English and American Literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury.
Published April 1, 2001 by Palgrave Macmillan. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for John Ashbery and American Poetry

The Guardian

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In this spirit, what Herd offers is not a reading of Ashbery but a way of reading Ashbery, and a critical language more appropriate to Ashbery's peculiarities than pre-packaged approaches, which merely make Ashbery reflect their own concerns.

Mar 10 2001 | Read Full Review of John Ashbery and American Poetry

London Review of Books

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