Author Archive

Leonora Carrington’s Surrealist Revolution

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Carrington’s novel seeks to upend retrograde Surrealist tropes about women. But rather than portraying a more typical feminist utopia in which women reign supreme, the novel aims to create a gender-neutral world that embodies a very different Surrealist ideal: pneuma.

Lydia Davis’s “Ethics” and the Instability of Logic

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The short stories of Lydia Davis, in spite of their infamous brevity, often work on at least three levels. In the case of “Ethics,” a paragraph-long fiction that humorously interrogates the Golden Rule, the story works as a character study, a reductio ad absurdum argument, and a larger

The Domino Effect of Maleness in Literary Criticism

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Studies consistently show that women read more than men, and that the publishing industry is dominated by (white) women. So why, then, are male writers still reviewed in prestigious publications at far higher rates than women?

The High-Low Collapse in Dana Ward’s The Crisis of Infinite Worlds

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Dana Ward’s collection is the very picture of postmodern poetry: compulsively self-conscious and concerned with the act of writing as much as with the subject of his writing.

The Modernist Revision of a Foreign Culture in Ezra Pound’s Cathay

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Pound, a white man who couldn’t speak or read a word of Chinese, was not even necessarily attempting to faithfully recreate Cathay’s poems in English; he rewrote the poems to fit into American modernist aesthetics, bringing ancient Chinese poetry into his own place and time.

Marriage as Domestic Imprisonment in Rachel Ingalls’ Mrs. Caliban

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Nineteen years after Betty Friedan wrote Feminine Mystique, Rachel Ingalls published Mrs Caliban, a subversive fairy tale that just so happens to serve as a perfect allegory for the “woman problem” as conceptualized by second-wave feminism.

Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish, and the Editor as Enabler

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As the story goes, most of what American readers love about Raymond Carver is not the work of Carver at all.

Rape and the Ravages of Colonialism in Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn

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What is the meaning of consent within an oppressive culture? This question lies at the heart of Lilith’s Brood, Octavia Butler’s sci-fi trilogy which presents an extended allegory for colonialism that is inextricably tied to rape and other types of nonconsensual sex.

The Blazing World Asks Why There Are No Great Female Artists

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In The Blazing World, Harriet Burden is a widowed sixty-something artist whose work languished in relative obscurity until she recruits three men to claim her work as their own, which fundamentally changes the reception of the art, and possibly even the art itself.

“Adventure of a Skier” and Calvino’s Theory of Lightness

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Last week, the New Yorker released the first English translation of Italo Calvino’s “The Adventure of a Skier,” which first appeared in the 1970 short story collection Difficult Loves. How does this “new” story fit into the themes and philosophical musings of the work as a whole?