Ideas in Things: The Poems of William Carlos Williams

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9780838635186: Ideas in Things: The Poems of William Carlos Williams
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William Carlos Williams' optimism, a counter-current to prevailing twentieth-century pessimism, was more than a matter of temperament. It was grounded in American transcendentalism and English romanticism but expressed in a semi-opaque modernist style - disjunctive, imagistic, symbolic, and both suave and colloquial. Williams' optimism, along with his outgoing contact with people and things, was an essential ingredient of the visionary idealism that was nurtured by Emerson, Whitman, the English romantics, and other sources. Ideas in Things establishes that Williams' worldview is grounded in these sources (Coleridge, Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Whitman, and especially Emerson), and describes the organic-idealist assumptions that underlie Williams' poetry.
Williams' vision of organic unity undercuts the alienating dualism that has prevailed since Descartes and the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In Williams' view, mind and nature, though distinct, are interrelated because both have their source in a common ground, the ultimate and living source of all things. This vision of the world as "charged with the grandeur of God" - or of some value that escapes scientific and common-sense scrutiny - drove him to tireless experimentation with language and form. His aim was to defamiliarize conventional language in order to reveal novel and unexpected qualities in things, and even to discover the permanent universal in the common and ordinary. Williams used free verse and visual prosody, exact diction, word-play, onomatopoeia, and especially metaphor and symbolism to subvert both scientific and stock responses to the world. His cubistic "broken style" freed his imagination by revealing the object or experience in quick, eccentric flashes.
For Williams, the all-important imagination, besides defamiliarizing the familiar in order to rediscover the universal, was also a productive power - the counterpart in the human level of the generative forces of nature. An authentic product of the imagination was not merely a copy of reality but a new "object" in itself. Ideas in Things shows that Williams' "objectivism" drew on Aristotle's conception of imitation: a true literary work had its own unique and necessary organization, like an organism, through which it represented the universal in human affairs. To demonstrate how Williams revised in order to create poems that were well-made "objects" - distinct from traditional verse forms as well as from casual free verse - Donald W. Markos examines several poems in progress from rough draft to published poem. These discussions will prove illuminating to critic and scholar as well as to the practicing poet.

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Markos, Donald W.
Published by Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Pr (1994)
ISBN 10: 0838635180 ISBN 13: 9780838635186
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Murray Media
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Book Description Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Pr, 1994. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110838635180

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