By Jonathan Veitch
Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a author on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” yet beforehand no critic has succeeded in absolutely enticing West’s targeted 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 chances and obstacles of dada and surrealism—the use of readymades, scatalogical humor, human machines, “exquisite corpses”—as modes of social feedback. American Superrealism bargains what's definitely the definitive examine of West, in addition to a provocative research that unearths the difficulty of illustration because the principal crisis of Depression-era America.
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Extra info for American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s
As he journeys through the intestinal labyrinth, a series of fantastic adventures befall our hero. 11 Here we may as well appeal to the dust jacket of the first edition where West's offers his own version of what transpires: He [Balso] hires a philosophic guide who insists on discussing the nature of art. After a violent argument, Balso eludes him only to run into Maloney the Areopagite who is attempting to crucify himself with thumb tacks. Maloney tells Balso that he is writing a life of Saint Puce.
21 In place of the idealizing tendencies of these various approaches, Bataille invests matter with a monstrous power of its own, a power drawn from the Manichean universe of Gnosticism. In "Base Materialism and Gnosticism" (1930), he explains, In practice, it is possible to see as a leitmotiv of Gnosticism the conception of matter as an active principle having its own eternal autonomous existence as darkness (which would not be simply the absence of light, but the monstrous archontes revealed by this absence), and as evil (which would not be the absence of good, but a creative action).
As we shall see, this static and unproductive opposition between nature and culture-the defining feature of pastoralism-stands behind much of the fiction, photography, and filmmaking of his contemporaries. 18 One might cite any number of instances by way of example, but perhaps the purest and most sustained manifestation of the pastoral impulse during the Depression (and certainly the supreme aesthetic achievement of the decade) can be found in the photographs taken of tenant farmers, small towns, and other rural subjects under the auspices of the FSA.