Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday, 21 June 2010

"Last Looks, Last Books" by Helen Vendler (Princeton University Press, 2010)

"the poems I cite illustrate with particular distinction both the rewards and the hazards of presenting life and death as mutually, and demandingly, real within a single poem's symbolic system" (p.2), death being the poet's own extinction.

"[Plath] had no real past, in her view, because she had always (since coming to self-consciousness at the age of eight) been dead; and she had no real future because she foresaw only an unrelieved continuation of the "neon hell" of nightmare in which she perpetually lived. Although past and future tenses appear in Plath's juvenilia, they become rare in her adult poems ... Since the creation in a poem of panels of time - past, present, and future - is one of the strongest ways to simulate a believable speaker, Plath is forced ... toward other means of self-construction" (p.53)

"'While', always of great use to poets, makes two things happen simultaneously" (p.64)

"[Plath] was always a posthumous person, but it took her years to acquire a posthumous style" (p.69)

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