By Diane F. Freedman
During this most recent addition to Sandra M. Gilbert’s advert Feminam: ladies and Literature sequence, Diane P. Freedman brings jointly twelve essays by means of critics of poetry and women’s writing for a serious reappraisal of the prolific paintings of Edna St. Vincent Millay.Though discovering its party within the lifetime of Millay—the centennial of the writer’s birth—this quantity refocuses realization on Millay’s paintings by way of asking questions important to our current issues: What within the different physique of Millay’s paintings speaks to us such a lot forcefully this present day? Which serious views so much remove darkness from her texts? How may well these techniques be challenged, prolonged, or reoriented? In looking the solutions to such questions, the volume’s participants light up the ability through which Millay’s early good fortune has been slighted and misunderstood and view problems with character, personae, serious stature, and formal experimentation in Millay’s a number of genres: lyric poetry, the sonnet, verse drama, fiction, and the private letter.In 1920, following the booklet of some Figs from Thistles, Millay was once the "It woman" of yankee poetry. yet via the overdue Nineteen Thirties, her reputation waned as her serious attractiveness declined less than the reign of excessive modernism and its critics. in reality, Millay, like others of her iteration, had rejected modernist elitism in want of public engagement, utilizing her strong public voice to plead for an finish to the Sacco-Vanzetti trials in addition to for U.S. access into global struggle II. Condemned for either her politicizing and her political poetry, she used to be the 1st to confess that she and her poetry suffered within the carrier of public causes.Grouped into 4 components, those essays specialise in Millay’s relation to modernism, her revisionary views on love, her remedy of time and of the feminine physique, and her use of masquerade and impersonation in existence and in paintings. all through, the essayists pose such questions as: the place is Millay’s position within the literary histories of recent writing and in our hearts? How are we to worth, interpret, and signify many of the types and genres within which she wrote? what's the cultural paintings Millay achieves and displays? How does she support us redefine modernism? What do Millay’s nice presents permit us to determine approximately style, the social development of gender, the definition of modernism, and the position of the poet?Millay’s substantial productiveness, the diversity and virtues of her varieties, and her experimentation basically argue for a wide-ranging reappraisal of her paintings.
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Extra info for Millay At 100: A Critical Reappraisal (Ad Feminam: Women and Literature)
The modernist aesthetic separated literary language from ordinary language and, in particular, from the personal. 1 Millay's poetry, however, does not acknowledge this separation of life from art. 2 Conversely, I wonder, doesn't Millay's poetry take the figurative, parodicconventionalcharacter of literary language and extend that rhetoricity to life, denaturalizing the personal? Her poems make visible through a theater of the personal how identity functions in culturally determined ways. If the social construction of male and female and the narrative of their sexual fates is produced by discourse, including literary discourse, this productivity is nevertheless hidden by the closure of identity.
In "Uncanny Millay," Suzanne Clark reminds us that the "work of Millay impacts literary studies more unconsciously than most" not only because Millay continues to be popular in the public domain, but because the music of her poetry is uncannily at hand in the body of memories of academics across the United States. Clark asks, What is the cultural work that Millay does? Besides inspiring feminist students today with her progressive politics and feminist defiance, Millay, by refusing to separate life from art and by using masquerade (addressed also in essays by Walker, Gilmore, Woodard, and Gilbert), problematizes modernist notions, the tradition of its criticism, and the very institution of literature as a separate aesthetic.
With the help of Millay, however, we can explore the role of literature in making identities and the difficult question of how the forgotten might use literary power. Because hers is not a narrowly aesthetic conception of literature, Millay dramatizes in both form and theme the way culture shapes individuals, what Teresa de Lauretis has characterized as the technology of subjects, beginning with herself. Does Millay know that she is problematizing the very idea of an identity by asserting the oxymoron of the woman poet?