David Herd
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Marianne Moore
in Enthusiast!

This chapter shows how Marianne Moore's Comment series articulates a relation to things which takes the form of a circulatory aesthetic, which has a close bearing on her handling of language, and which she names enthusiastic. Her sense of enthusiasm, however, was finely calibrated, taking the outward, projective, transitive form that it did in proportion as her suspicion hardened towards conventional images of creativity. And to get the measure of this, to see how she came to formulate her defining attitude to words and things, it is necessary first to consider the prose she wrote prior to taking up the editorship of The Dial. The double operation - valuing and transmitting - is central to Marianne Moore's poetry, to its key devices and techniques. It is as an enthusiast that Moore gives such thought to the way she displays her materials.

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Essays on Modern American Literature


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