Break, Blow, Burn (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Camille Paglia’s penchant for flamboyant observations, penetrating and provocative insights, and frequent contemptuous dismissals of rival positions has resulted in her reputation as a maverick intellectual determinedly self-exiled from nearly any kind of communal school or group. In her introduction to Break, Blow, Burn, Paglia rails at “cliques and coteries in book and magazine publishing” and defiantly proclaims “I have no such friendships and am a propagandist for no poet or group of poets.”
While she has relished this position and employed it effectively to distinguish herself among critics and commentators, it has also led to the kind of derisive response shown by Lee Siegel in his review of Paglia’s reading of “Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems”: After acknowledging that her “polemical tome Sexual Personae” (1991) effectively “attacked the stale orthodoxies of both left and right,” Siegel stated that “her once-gratifying affirmations of individuality, imagination and incalculable experience began to sound like playground shouts of Look at Me.” In addition to his contention that her style has grown stale, her observations shrill, and her personae obnoxious, Siegel felt that the subject of her new book amounts to having “exhumed a dead herring.”
This objection is at the heart of Paglia’s enterprise. While Siegel regards Paglia’s concerns as “alarmist” and her prospective...
(The entire section is 2316 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101, no. 11 (February 1, 2005): 916.
Commentary 120, no. 1 (July/August, 2005): 72-75.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 2 (January 15, 2005): 107-108.
Library Journal 130, no. 5 (March 15, 2005): 86.
The Nation 280, no. 23 (June 13, 2005): 48-52.
National Review 57, no. 8 (May 9, 2005): 43-44.
The New Leader 88, no. 2 (March/April, 2005): 33-35.
The New York Times Book Review 154 (March 27, 2005): 8-10.
Poetry 187, no. 1 (October, 2005): 47-52.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 8 (February 21, 2005): 168.
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