Guy Davenport American Literature Analysis
The key to understanding the complex literary world of Davenport is his commitment to understanding and using the lessons of the past in both his stories and his literary criticism. In his seminal essay “The Symbol of the Archaic,” he most clearly articulates the need for humanity to save itself from the encroaching destructive effects of industrialization and mechanization by reawakening a passion for the “archaic,” a passion that manifests itself in “a longing for something lost, for energies, values, and certainties unwisely abandoned by an industrial age.”
Davenport’s project of reclaiming the ameliorating lessons of the past closely resembles similar efforts of other modernist writers such as Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Charles Olson, and visual artists such as Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, and Georges Braque. Davenport envisions these modernists as seriously trying to use the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, in particular, to heal the fragmentation in Western civilization resulting from the disastrous destructiveness of both World War I and World War II. Those wars, and the subsequent rise of fascism and communism that followed them, obliterated any remaining cohesive structures that had previously kept Western Europe unified. The artists and writers in whom Davenport is most interested are those who attempted to forge new literary and aesthetic methods and models to deal with and understand the fragmentation of the post-World War I era....
(The entire section is 2629 words.)
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