By Jonathan Veitch
Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a author on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” yet previously no critic has succeeded in totally enticing West’s designated approach to negation. In American Superrealism, Jonathan Veitch examines West’s letters, brief tales, screenplays and novels—some of that are mentioned right here for the 1st time—as good as West’s collaboration with William Carlos Williams in the course of their tenure because the editors of touch. finding West in a full of life, American avant-garde culture that stretches from Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol, Veitch explores the probabilities and boundaries of dada and surrealism—the use of readymades, scatalogical humor, human machines, “exquisite corpses”—as modes of social feedback. American Superrealism deals what's without doubt the definitive learn of West, in addition to a provocative research that finds the problem of illustration because the primary crisis of Depression-era America.
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Extra resources for American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s
If the specific content of that criticism remains inchoate in Balsa Snell, its peculiar mode of inquiry and apprehension is strikingly manifest: On the one hand, West pursues a metaphysics riven into mutually exclusive polarities of "high" and "low," the "singular" and the "plural," idealism and materialism; on the other hand, he demonstrates a preoccupation with discourse qua discourse. However unpromising or loosely related this combination would appear to be, it has the virtue of being readily available for examination in Balsa Snell before it becomes submerged into the larger themes and interests of West's later work.
For Mira, Arp, Masson, and Klee, automatism is presumed to offer a privileged entree into the realm of the unconscious, which is seen as a quasi-mystical source of creative energy. As Arp himself rhapsodized, "Spiritual reality bestows rich gifts on ·him who does not close himself to it. In the depths, the abscesses of festering reason dissolve without trace. Apes and parrots are the greatest enemies of art and dreams. Men with their reason seek the key that will open the gate of mystery, the gate of life.
He knows that the man of true sensibility will be able to distinguish a gradation between smells so sub- Euclid's Asshole 33 tIe that the circumference of the circle becomes infinite in size-in effect, a straight line. Perkins' triumph, however, like all such obsessions with the absolute here and throughout West's fiction, is betrayed by the material conditions upon which it is predicated. By tilting his nose at the ideal, Perkins attempts to evade the more intimate bodily functions with which his nose was originally acquainted.
American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s by Jonathan Veitch