Hart Crane: After His Lights

By Brian M. Reed | Go to book overview

2
How Queer

Illustrating Crane's adherence to Victorian verse norms usefully transgresses hoary disciplinary lines by demonstrating the need to think about modern U.S. poetry in a transatlantic context. Such a gesture is, however, in itself unlikely to win the poet new admirers, whether in or out of the academy. Whatever its national origins or affiliations, Crane's anomalous writing style remains vulnerable to accusations of being meretricious, self-indulgent, or even reactionary. To reply to such charges means finding a way to attribute significance to Crane's démodé Swinburnian leanings, a task which, in essence, requires that one supply a frame that could situate this story within broader narratives or debates.

Crane's decision to opt out of the Pound Era provides a useful starting point. Crane's dissent appears gauche, inexplicable, or conservative only if one buys into the Poundian narrative of poetic progress from Victorian “sissified fussiness” to Imagist clarity to Vorticist kinetics.1 Since the early 1990s there has been a growing consensus that the conventional, oft-repeated narratives of modernist formal experimentation and breakthrough—the sort of narrative enshrined in such classics as Pound's How to Read (1931), Hugh Kenner's The Pound Era (1971), and Christopher Beach's ABC of Influence (1992)—have frequently concealed as much or more than they reveal. Scholarly attention has shifted toward the investigation of what Andreas Huyssen, following Dilip Gaonkar, calls “alternative modernities,” that is, “trajectories,” “relations,” and “crosscurrents” of thought and development that have always existed alongside canonical modernism but that have, up to now, rarely received extended scrutiny from metropolitan academics (367). In opposing his poetics to Pound's, Crane could have been asserting himself as

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Hart Crane: After His Lights
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • A Note on Citation ix
  • Introduction - Hart Crane Again 1
  • Part One - Reading Crane 15
  • 1: How American 17
  • 2: How Queer 39
  • 3: How Modern 71
  • Part Two - Crane Writing 95
  • 4: How to Write a Lyric 97
  • 5: How to Write an Epic 126
  • Part Three - Reading Crane 167
  • 6: Paul Blackburn's Crane 169
  • 7: Frank O'Hara's Crane 195
  • 8: Bob Kaufman's Crane 225
  • Notes 247
  • Works Cited 271
  • Index 287
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