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Poet and critic Paul Valéry held two strong and conflicting views of literary meaning. On the one hand, he affirmed his “verses have whatever meaning is given them.” And in a phrase that entered into the post-modern literary canon, he declared “Once a work is published its author’s interpretation of it has no more validity than anyone else’s.” On the other hand, he suggested that “One is led to a form by a desire to leave the smallest possible share to the reader.” Valéry’s career can be divided along these lines of anti-intentionality and intentionality. My larger claim is to show the primacy, or perhaps the invention of a dominant mode of twentieth- and twenty-first century thought.
W.G. Sebald’s long poem Nach der Natur (1988) contributed significantly to the swift recognition of his literary talent among fellow writers and poets, yet it received scant attention by the larger public and literary scholars alike.1 To the English-speaking world it was not even available until 2002, a year after its author’s death, when it appeared in Michael Hamburger’s excellent translation under the title After Nature. Like a triptych, it is divided into three untitled parts, each with a distinct thematic concern involving a specific historical period and a writer or artist: the first focuses on the Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald, the second on the eighteenth-century naturalist, travel writer, and Arctic explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller, and the last on elements from Sebald’s own biography.2 As opposed to Sebald’s later practice, apart from the landscape photographs that are reproduced on the end sheets of the first edition of Nach der Natur, there are no visuals in the volume, although paintings play a prominent role, especially in the first and final sections of the poem. In what follows, I shall support my reading of Sebald’s poem with reproductions of Grünewald’s paintings. I do so, however, in an attempt to provide…
We should give ourselves up to the lies of art to deliver ourselves from the lies of myth: it is by this very paradoxical and singular way of absorption into the framework of one of the “great works” of the Occident that Picasso belongs to myth. For if it is true that he always sought to combat myth, making him even more dependent on it, he only succeeded by turning myth’s own arms onto itself—that is, the “lie.”
Picasso’s early work—his so-called Blue Period, in the present case—responds to a concern, widespread in the symbolist milieu from which the young Picasso emerged, with authority. By authority, this essay understands one’s ability to believe in and respond to a truth as one finds it represented. In this moment, the tasks of representing truth by art and by religion found themselves in dialogue, or even, as one might say, in a relation of mutual self-definition. Charles Morice’s explanations of Eugène Carrière’s works provide the background against which to understand some of Picasso’s Blue Period works, Morice’s remarks on them, and Apollinaire’s vindication of Picasso. Their exchange raises, furthermore, important problems for those of us who write histories and interpretations of art.
If the agency of color replaces the agency of the artist or the sitter, then what the portraits of Hortense show is a liveliness more animate than any mimetic representation could produce. Indeed, Sidlauskas’s account focuses in detail on Cézanne’s “metaphors of ingestion,” of his “physically absorbing” colors, and of the total identification between the painter and his subjects. Above all, Gasquet provides a vitalist language that best captures Cézanne’s affective forms…
The Board Bridget Alsdorf Professor, Department of Art and Archaeology Princeton University Elise Archias Associate Professor, Art History Department, UIC Jennifer Ashton Associate Professor, Department of English University of Illinois, Chicago Raquel Belden, Editorial Assistant Nicholas Brown Professor, Department of English University of Illinois, Chicago Todd Cronan Professor, Art History Department Emory University Michael Fried Professor Emeritus of the Humanities Johns Hopkins University Oren Izenberg Associate Professor, UC Irvine, Department of English Brian Kane Associate Professor, Department of Music Yale University Ruth Leys Academy Professor at Johns Hopkins University Walter Benn Michaels Professor, Department of English University of Illinois, Chicago Charles Palermo Professor, Department of Art and Art History William & Mary Robert Pippin Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought and Philosophy Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago Adolph Reed, Jr. Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science University of Pennsylvania Lisa Siraganian Professor, Department of Comparative Thought and Literature Johns Hopkins University Kenneth Warren Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Department of English, University of Chicago Marnin Young Associate Professor, Department of Art History Yeshiva University Daniel Zamora Professor of Sociology Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
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