American Writers, Supplement III by Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz

By Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz

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So we ought to think about our own position on the path. Will it ever be anything more than that of pebble? I wonder. " Ashbery's message is that commentators (on roses or prose poems) are as selfreliantly transient as their subjects. This lay WRITERS preacher, who (as in the later poems of Auden or Eliot) has been speaking regularly in Ashbery's later poetry, has here the garrulousness and self-betraying obstinacy of "Litany," which domesticates the Proustian character of Three Poems. " Since April Galleons, Ashbery has written the longest verse poem of his career, "Flowchart," and another volume's worth of short poems.

Placing her characters close to death, suggesting the triumph of death, and satirizing middle-class manners are other elements found throughout her fiction. During the decade in which Barnes began writing and publishing her artwork, poetic fiction, and journalism, she also wrote one-act plays, most of which appeared between 1916 and 1923. Three of these plays were staged by the Provincetown Players in 1919 and 1920, when she worked with Eugene O'Neill, who encouraged her work. Others were published in various periodicals, including the Little Review, the Dial, Charm, and the Smart Set (the first two helped to place her name among the avant-garde; the second two puzzled their popular readership).

These two stories, as well as "The Passion," are also interpreted as dealing with the nature of the artist and her relationship to the external world. Generally, the stories reveal a restlessness and an estrangement from society that characterize the expatriate literature of the period. Barnes gained a reputation for her black humor and quotable observations. Matthew Josephson reported that she declared, "I came to Europe to get culture. Is this culture? . " One of the most memorable descriptions of Barnes came from her friend Kathryn Hulme (who would later write The Nun's Story), who remembered often seeing Barnes with her friends Janet Planner and Solita Solano drinking martinis in a cafe, each dressed in a black tailored suit and white gloves, looking like three elegant Fates.

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