By Jonathan Veitch
Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a author on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” yet formerly no critic has succeeded in absolutely enticing West’s unique approach to negation. In American Superrealism, Jonathan Veitch examines West’s letters, brief tales, screenplays and novels—some of that are mentioned the following 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 obstacles 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 research of West, in addition to a provocative research that unearths the difficulty of illustration because the primary hindrance of Depression-era America.
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Extra info for American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s
Only when things take the shapes of eaches, everys, anys, eithers (have ends) do they have feet. Feet are attached to ends, by definition. Moreover, if everything is one, and has neither ends nor beginnings, then everything is a circle. A circle has neither a beginning nor an end. p~ circle has no feet. (9) Circles with feet? This is the debate that, to a large extent, shapes the various encounters of Balso Snell throughout the rest of the novella. Again and again, the plural or "podiatric" nature of experience is set against the monistic idealisms that would try to appropriate and ultimately redeem it.
West's novella is itself a tin can tied to the tail of Western culture, or if you prefer, a Duchampian mustachio affixed to the Mana Lisa's kisser. Indeed, one might say the dynamic of Balsa Snell consists of a dadaist attempt to besmirch a variety of Western culture's most 29 Euclid's Asshole cherished ideals-Christianity, progress, sentimental culture-which purport to transfigure what West sees as the essentially intractable nature of material existence. " and thus self-consciously places himself in a tradition of disdain for the institution of art and its associated idealisms.
Balso readily condenses this phylogeny into his own simpleminded injunction: "Take your head from under your armpit. Stop sniffing mortality" (13). Samuel Perkins follows this advice with a vengeance. Perkins, we recall, is the biographer of the biographer of the biographer of Johnson's Boswell. But as Miss McGeeney, his own would-be biographer, assures us, Perkins is interesting in his own right. Apparently, Perkins' sensibility has more than equipped him to become a dandy in the grand tradition of Huysmans' Des Esseintes.
American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s by Jonathan Veitch