By Jonathan Veitch
Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a author on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” yet before no critic has succeeded in totally enticing West’s unique 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 chances 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 definitely the definitive examine of West, in addition to a provocative research that unearths the problem of illustration because the critical difficulty of Depression-era America.
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Extra resources for American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s
The confusion is compounded by the womb's capacity to multiply that skewed relation and the laughter it elicits promiscuously. This is, to be sure, not the sort of Rabelaisian "belly laugh" that would restore us to the ground of Being. Rather, the laughter one finds here and throughout West's fiction is cerebral and, hence, maddening. It derealizes the seemingly ordered "nature" of things. ) Moreover, the fertility of the womb ensures that one laugh will quite literally engender another, until the fate of West's hysterics comes to resemble that of the "basso from the Chicago Opera," who started laughing and was unable to stop.
But, of course, we are never allowed to forget that these idealized circles find their obscene analogue in a quite different variety of tender buttons: "0 the Rose Gate! 0 the Moist Garden! " (5). 14 The pun itself is a clue to West's strategy. For West's symbolist predecessors the pun was one of the principal means of moving beyond denotation so that a more inclusive range of meaning might be incorporated into the text. s ideal of perfection was to see the world absorbed into "The Book," the pun's capacity to multiply meaning was seen as central to those designs.
15 16 PART I As I noted earlier, the importance of surrealism in West's fiction has often been remarked upon, but it has been insufficiently understood, or more often, simply misunderstood. That is a confusion for which West himself is partly to blame. In his fiction doorknobs bleed, flower, speak; horses languish at the bottom of swimming pools; can openers turn into hairbrushes and flowerpots into victrolas, while revolvers dispense candy that turn out to be buttons. " What could he possibly mean?