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John Ashbery’s Humane Abstractions

Herd, David (2018) John Ashbery’s Humane Abstractions. Cordite Poetry Review, . ISSN 1328-2107. (KAR id:66802)


This article considers John Ashbery’s articulation of space in The Double Dream of Spring. Ashbery’s fourth volume is presented not within the trajectory of his own development, but in the light of Charles Olson’s poetics. In recalling the prominence of Olson’s spatial poetics, the article proposes a new account of Ashery’s relation to Giorgio de Chirico, from whose 

work he took the title of his book. What emerges from this account is a counter?poetics of space predicated, as Ashbery notes, on the fact of de Chirico’s status as a displaced person, 

but more broadly, as he suggests, on displacement as a condition of Twentieth?Century aesthetics. Key to Ashbery’s articulation of space is what he terms that ‘banality which … is our/ Most precious possession’. ‘Banality’, the article argues, affords a way of relating to environments which is not grounded in a sense of origin and long acquaintance but which 

instead takes account of dislocation. Amplifying the implications of this shift, the article moves from a Heideggerean sense of poetic space to an understanding of space informed by 

Arendt and Agamben. Ashbery’s poetry, the article concludes, affords a means of contemplating space in which movement, not settlement, is the shaping condition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Ashbery, Space, Olson, Origin, Heidegger, De Chirico, Displacement, Movement, Banality, Arendt, Agamben, Ban
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: David Herd
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2018 13:56 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2022 11:18 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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