Homecomings: The Poet's Prose of Ashbery, Schuyler and Spicer

Daniel Katz

in American Modernism's Expatriate Scene

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625260
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652006 | DOI:
Homecomings: The Poet's Prose of Ashbery, Schuyler and Spicer

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This chapter explores first Jack Spicer's unfinished detective novel, which stages the ‘return’ to San Francisco of aspiring poet J. J. Ralston, who, after several years of academic work on the east coast, comes home precisely to find an origin become unrecognisable. The second is John Ashbery's and James Schuyler's co-authored A Nest of Ninnies. The emphasis on possession and self-identity are somewhat at odds with the poetics of ‘dictation’, the ‘outside’, ‘correspondences’ and haunting, which say nothing of Spicer's pronouncement. A Nest of Ninnies ends on no such note of ‘hereness’ and geographical and cultural continuity, as one might well imagine. In Spicer, Ashbery and Schuyler, one sees where American transatlantic cosmopolitan modernism also invariably, dialectically tended, while the museum fades into its other, which, since Henry James, has at least also been its double: the shopping mall, which Europe's ghosts ask no better than to haunt.

Keywords: Jack Spicer; J. J. Ralston; John Ashbery; James Schuyler; Nest of Ninnies; cosmopolitan modernism; Henry James

Chapter.  8691 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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