Frank O’Hara’s ecstatic elegy: ‘In Memory of My Feelings’ in memory Wallace Stevens

Ladkin, Sam (2013) Frank O’Hara’s ecstatic elegy: ‘In Memory of My Feelings’ in memory Wallace Stevens. Blackbox Manifold, 10. pp. 1-43.

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This article engages with two key modes of modernism, abstraction and autonomy, exemplified by the figures of the hero and serpent respectively in the poetry of Wallace Stevens, and with properties modernism largely
disavowed, namely the rhetoric of sensibility or sentimentality. The article mediates the seminal readings of modernism of Charles Altieri and T.J. Clark. Clark’s analysis of modernism’s paradoxical dream of returning to the pre-­modern “World/Nature/Sensation/Subjectivity” is judged a Romantic dream; O’Hara’s dream, however, is a return to the fundament of sentimentality, the authority of feeling in the body, and in love. The performative rhetoric that supports autonomy, described by Altieri, is transformed by O’Hara’s status as a love poet. O’Hara’s poem is therefore an elegy for feelings, and for modernism, in what Jerome McGann terms the “ecstatic” tradition. Sentimental late modernism is the inability to turn back to the sensibility of love, and the ecstatic elegy for it, the “complete expenditure” that affects an alternative autonomy.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
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Depositing User: Samuel Ladkin
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2019 08:31
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2019 08:36

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