Agee and Actuality: Artistic Vision in His Work

Agee and Actuality: Artistic Vision in His Work

Agee and Actuality: Artistic Vision in His Work

Agee and Actuality: Artistic Vision in His Work

Synopsis

These essays provide detailed analyses of both James Agee's life and writings. Especially, they illuminate aspects of his literary career as it developed through refinements and change. Paired, the twelve essays work in groups to demonstrate that Agee's accomplishments were varied, while at the core of his writing remains his concern for what he once called the "dignity of acutlaity."

Excerpt

In all of James Agee's writing, whether an informal sketch or a finished piece of work, he sought to provide his vision of reality, a way of seeing which honors the beauty of what is beheld. Because he wrote in so many different ways, as poet, critic, essayist, fiction writer, experimental writer, it is sometimes possible to overlook the fact that his love of the commonplace world, what he once referred to as "the dignity of actuality," is a concern which consistently informs all his uses of the printed word--from his earliest verbalized dreams of being a writer through the wide variety of all his writings including the manuscript, unfinished at his death, about his own family which became the well known novel A Death in the Family.

In the essays which I have written for this book it has not been my concern to analyze Agee's biography or to provide defenses of him as a writer. His varied work speaks for itself. What it says, over and over, is that the world in its particularity is to be honored. the fact is Agee was someone who was fascinated by what could be done with words, but he was also a writer who expressed doubts about the ability of any author to catch the complexity of a world which he insisted must be regarded with respect, awe, and honor. As a writer whose fascination for the world remained so strong throughout his career, and also as one who kept seeking ways to mirror his love and fascination, Agee kept beginning again and again. His accomplished and wide ranging corpus documents this.

These studies, ten published as scholarly essays, and two read for meetings, could well be described as my returns to Agee's continuing fascination with the world through words and his various experiments with trying to find adequate ways to mirror his vision of the world. Agee's expression was always one which both had to acknowledge the writer's respect for reality and acknowledge his continuing awareness of the difficulty of what he sought to do. Gathered together . . .

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