The Fourierist Parables of Guy Davenport
Guy Davenport occupies a unique position in contemporary American letters, due not least of all to the fact that his accomplishments incorporate such a wide variety of multidisciplinary skills. Not only is he considered one of American literature's most respected short-story writers but he is also one of its most notable literary critics, translators, and book illustrators. He has published more than seventy stories, some the length of novellas, through nine collections. In the first four of these collections, he provided not only words but also illustrations for many of the stories. He has also published a collection of poems and translations entitled Thasos and Ohio (1985) and an early long poem, Flowers and Leaves (1966). In addition, he has published translations of Heraclitus, Diogenes, and the poets Sappho and Archilochus in Seven Greeks, as well as three critically acclaimed collections of essays: The Geography of the Imagination(1981), Every Force Evolves a Form (1987), and The Hunter Gracchus and Other Papers on Literature and Art (1997). These volumes contain sixty essays commenting on such challenging thinkers as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Charles Olson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the late work of Samuel Beckett, to name a few. Few literary critics would quibble with the general consensus that he is one of the most highly respected critical minds now operating in both American and European literary circles even though his work is virtually impossible to classify because it is completely sui generis. The distinguished critic, George Steiner, states categorically: [The fact is that Guy Davenport is among the very few truly original, truly autonomous voices now audible in American letters. Name Guy Davenport and William Gass. There are not many others to set beside Borges, Raymond Queneau, and Calvino] (196).