American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of by Jonathan Veitch

By Jonathan Veitch

Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a author on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” yet in the past no critic has succeeded in absolutely attractive West’s specific approach to negation. In American Superrealism, Jonathan Veitch examines West’s letters, brief tales, screenplays and novels—some of that are mentioned the following 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 obstacles 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 examine of West, in addition to a provocative research that finds the difficulty of illustration because the critical obstacle of Depression-era America.

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This conception was perfectly incompatible with the very principle of the profoundly monistic Hellenistic spirit, whose dominant tendency saw matter and evil as degradations of superior principles. 22 Perhaps the best example of this "monstrous archontes" in action can be found in the "immense travail of recklessness, discharge, and upheaval" to which Bataille gives the name potlatch (a term borrowed from the anthropologist Marcel Mauss to describe the periodic destruction of property during the festivals of the North American Indians).

The mouth was beyond his reach, the navel proved a cul-de-sac" (3), leaving Balso no choice but to enter via the horse's anus. As he journeys through the intestinal labyrinth, a series of fantastic adventures befall our hero. 11 Here we may as well appeal to the dust jacket of the first edition where West's offers his own version of what transpires: He [Balso] hires a philosophic guide who insists on discussing the nature of art. After a violent argument, Balso eludes him only to run into Maloney the Areopagite who is attempting to crucify himself with thumb tacks.

And there are moments in his fiction when he seems on the verge of doing just that. ) riot on Hollywood Boulevard with which The Day of the Locust concludes. We will have to examine these instances carefully for what they tell us about the possibilities of liberation in an otherwise totalizing universe of mass culture. The prospects, however, are not good. " the cliches of therapeutic culture (in the case of Miss Lonelyhearts) and commodity fetishism (in The Day ofthe Locust). In West's fiction the 10V\l rarely if ever exists in its pure form; rather, it is the result of a disfiguring operation always already carried out by the high language of official culture.

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