Paper Trail: Selected Prose, 1965-2003

Paper Trail: Selected Prose, 1965-2003

ISBN: 0374529892

ISBN 13: 9780374529895

Publication Date: October 01, 2005

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Pages: 434

Format: Paperback

Author: Richard Howard

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Adroit, inventive essays culled from a lifetime of literature
For decades Richard Howard's stylish, deeply informed criticism has enlightened and entertained his devoted audiences. Here is a comprehensive selection of his finest essays on a splendid range of subjects--from American poets like Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore to French artists such as Rodin and Michel Delacroix, from modern sculpture to the photography of the human body. And Howard brings to his consideration of French literature a rare wisdom drawn from his celebrated work as a translator of Stendhal and Gide, Barthes and Cocteau, Yourcenar and Gracq.
Richard Howard is a poet, scholar, teacher, critic, and translator. The author of more than a dozen books, including "Inner Voices: Selected Poems, 1963-2003," he is the recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award for translation. He teaches at Columbia University and is poetry editor of "The Paris Review." Finalist for the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism Richard Howard has been writing stylish, deeply informed commentary on modern culture and literature for more than four decades. His earlier work "Alone with ""America"": Essays on the Art of Poetry in the ""United States"" Since 1950" has long been hailed as a landmark in literary criticism. "Paper Trail" is a selection of his finest essays, including some never before published in book form, on a splendid range of subjects--from American poets such as Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore to French artists such as Rodin and Michel Delacroix. Also included are considerations of modern sculpture and of the photography of the human body.
Howard's intense familiarity with modern poetry is seen to excellent effect in essays on "the poetry of forgetting," on the cause and effects of experimental poetry, and on the first books of poets whose work he helped introduced. Of course, Howard brings to his consideration of French literature a rare wisdom drawn from his celebrated work as a translator of Stendhal and Gide, Barthes and Cocteau, Yourcenar and Gracq. "If Richard Howard were not a poet at all, he would stand out nevertheless as a translator, an editor, a teacher of poets, and a critic of French, English, and American literature. "Paper Trail" collects his arrestingly elaborate essays on all three, as well as Howard's writings on visual art . . . The essays in "Paper Trail" offer language at least as intricate as that of Howard's verse, and information in even greater abundance: They can teach what the poems assume we know. Howard's preference for mannered abstractions, which can hinder the poems, assists the essays, making them more ambitious, and more daring, than most; even when their particular judgments do not convince, their general propositions enlighten."--Stephen Burt, "The ""Washington"" Post Book World" "If Richard Howard were not a poet at all, he would stand out nevertheless as a translator, an editor, a teacher of poets, and a critic of French, English, and American literature. "Paper Trail" collects his arrestingly elaborate essays on all three, as well as Howard's writings on visual art . . . The essays in "Paper Trail" offer language at least as intricate as that of Howard's verse, and information in even greater abundance: They can teach what the poems assume we know. Howard's preference for mannered abstractions, which can hinder the poems, assists the essays, making them more ambitious, and more daring, than most; even when their particular judgments do not convince, their general propositions enlighten."--Stephen Burt, "The ""Washington"" Post Book World" "Howard, with a text, is like the boyfriend everyone wants: he sees you for who you really are, and still loves you. His sympathy, like his culture, is immense. At the same time, because of his Stradivarian attunement to language (no surprise in a distinguished poet and translator), he sees what is actually there, the words, and from them along extracts the meaning. His own use of language is an added gift: high, mandarin, but with pauses and dashes and side-thoughts--the movements of a happy mind."--Joan Acocella, author of "Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism" "While the essays range from Emily Dickinson to Robert Mapplethorpe to Claude Simon, they constitute an intimate autobiography . . . "Paper Trail" is something much larger than an argument about the shape of American poetry."--James Longenbach, "Boston"" Review" "Well-crafted essays, forewords, and afterwords on poets and poetry by the critic, translator, editor, and poet . . . The collection opens with a sparkling essay, from 1973, on Emily Dickinson, who was just then being rediscovered and needed her champions in a rhymeless time. Howard's consideration is highly illuminating, and it well illustrates his magpie technique of turning up glittering oddments . . . Elsewhere the noted translator of Baudelaire and other French writers turns his attention to Francophone literature, and especially on writers who are not much read today, such as Marguerite Yourcenar, Claude Simon, and even the irreplaceable Stendhal. These admiring pieces . . . ought to awaken interest in those writers, which would be a grand service to them. Elsewhere still Howard praises then-new poets such as J. D. McClatchy, the writings of Brassaioch, the power of storytelling, and kindred matters, giving variety to an altogether satisfactory collection. [The book will be] of interest to Howard's admirers and students."--"Kirkus Reviews" "[Richard Howard is] a formidable man of letters: a brilliant poet, pioneering translator, revered champion of emerging poets, and learned, far-ranging critic. In this dazzling essay collection, a true landmark volume, Howard exemplifies the benefits of the life of the mind, which for him is a veritable fountain of youth. Over the course of nearly four decades, he has never lost the intellectual vivaciousness of his earlier works even as experience and growing knowledge have deepened his perspective. Howard writes with equal zest and insight about the minutiae of grammar and the grandness of worldviews, the eccentricities of writers and the great sweep of literature . . . Drolly witty, discerning, and wielding a vocabulary and syntax to die for, Howard makes each of his chosen subjects worthy of the reader's most avid attention."--Donna Seaman, "Booklist"

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