Marjorie Perloff Criticism - Essay

Bernard Duffey (review date November 1974)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Poetic Art of Robert Lowell, in American Literature, Vol. 46, No. 3, November, 1974, pp. 414–15.

[In the following review of The Poetic Art of Robert Lowell, Duffey objects to Perloff's assertions concerning Lowell's realism.]

Anyone consulting Marjorie Perloff's study of Robert Lowell will profit by paying attention to her title [The Poetic Art of Robert Lowell]. She in fact does largely concentrate on questions pertinent to the means of Lowell's poetic expression and pays only slight attention to other matters. If, however, she largely passes up such important questions as those of development, thematic range, poetical...

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Jerome Mazzard (review date Winter 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Frank O'Hara: Poet among Painters, in Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, Vol. XX, No. 1, Winter, 1978, pp. 96–8.

[In the following review of Frank O'Hara: Poet among Painters, Mazzard praises Perloff's explication of O'Hara's poetry, but finds fault in her academic perspective.]

When the Musée National d'Art Moderne opened in “The Gas Factory” or “The Refinery,” the new Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou in Paris was the ideal structure for a retrospective on the Dadaist Marcel Duchamp. Far less suitable for the spirit of Frank O'Hara is Marjorie Perloff's Frank O'Hara: Poet among...

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Martha George Meek (review date March 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Frank O'Hara: Poet among Painters, in American Literature, Vol. 50, No. 1, March, 1978, pp. 134–35.

[In the following review, Meek gives a positive assessment of Frank O'Hara: Poet among Painters.]

Marjorie Perloff's intention in this first book-length study of Frank O'Hara's poetry [Frank O'Hara] is to shift attention from the celebrity—curator at the Museum of Modern Art and friend and champion of many contemporary artists—to a serious consideration of his poetry, often dismissed as the merely charming trivia of a spare-time poet who wrote hastily and largely without revision on his lunch break or at parties. It is Perloff's...

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Charles Altieri (review date April 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Frank O'Hara: Poet among Painters, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 77, No. 2, April, 1978, pp. 299–301.

[In the following review of Frank O'Hara: Poet among Painters, Altieri commends Perloff's discussion of O'Hara's aesthetics, but cites shortcomings in her analysis of the subjective qualities of O'Hara's work.]

Marjorie Perloff's description of Frank O'Hara's poetic career and its context, the New York art scene of the 1950's, is a pleasure to read. Clearly and energetically written, [Frank O'Hara] is informative without pedantry and subtle without excessive ingenuity.

Professor Perloff's...

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Wendy Steiner (review date Winter 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Poetics of Indeterminacy, in Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, Winter, 1982, pp. 64–70.

[In the following review, Steiner criticizes what she considers to be specious arguments and inaccurate semiotic analysis in The Poetics of Indeterminacy.]

It is hard not to admire the courage of Marjorie Perloff's work. She sets out to do nothing less than recast the modernist canon, writing with evident pleasure of poets disdained for their incoherence and exclusively cerebral appeal. Drawn forth from obscurity and isolation, these sports of art become themselves a fecund species, a line fully as productive as...

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George F. Butterick (review date April 1983)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Poetics of Indeterminacy, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 82, No. 2, April, 1983, pp. 215–18.

[In the following review, Butterick commends the ambition of The Poetics of Indeterminacy, but criticizes what he sees as Perloff's unconvincing arguments and loose interdisciplinary approach.]

This [The Poetics of Indeterminacy] is a praiseworthy attempt to engage an important development in recent Anglo-American poetry and to find ways to measure it. Perloff believes that there have been buried in Modernism “two separate though often interwoven strands: the Symbolist mode that Lowell inherited from Eliot and...

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Joseph G. Kronick (review date March 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Dance of the Intellect, in American Literature, Vol. 59, No. 1, March, 1987, pp. 139–40.

[In the following review, Kronick gives a negative assessment of The Dance of the Intellect.]

Perloff [in The Dance of the Intellect] contends that Post-Modernism is distinguished by the abandonment of genre, particularly that of lyric, in favor of the “art of writing,” which for her is embodied in the fragmentary and heterogeneous character of the Cantos. Her book begins with a group of essays dealing with the relation of Pound's poetics to Joyce's and Stevens'. She then turns to the metric techniques of Williams' and...

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Andrew J. McKenna (review date 21 June 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Futurist Moment, in Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 21, 1987, p. 13.

[In the following review of The Futurist Moment, McKenna finds Perloff's analysis of Futurism and its link to postmodernism informative, but questions postmodernism's relevance and Perloff's view of the post-industrial world.]

“We exclaim that the whole brilliant style of modern times—our trousers, jackets, shoes, trolleys, cars, airplanes, railways, grandiose steamships—is fascinating, is a great epoch, one that has known no equal in the entire history of the world.” Tone down “exclaim,” throw in tape recorder, TV and telephone for outdated...

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Hugh Witemeyer (review date August 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Dance of the Intellect, in Journal of American Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2, August, 1987, pp. 277–78.

[In the following review of The Dance of the Intellect, Witemeyer finds shortcomings in Perloff's assertions and documentation.]

In The Dance of the Intellect Marjorie Perloff gathers ten essays first published between 1981 and 1984 on various aspects of modern and postmodern writing in English. As in The Poetics of Indeterminacy (1981) Perloff seeks to construct a modernist genealogy for the kind of contemporary American writing she favors: the collage- and performance-texts of John Cage; the deconstructive narrative...

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Timothy Materer (review date January 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Futurist Moment, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 87, No. 1, January, 1988, pp. 153–55.

[In the following review, Materer gives a positive evaluation of The Futurist Moment.]

Marjorie Perloff's new book, The Futurist Moment, which follows The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (1981) and The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Pound Tradition (1985), confirms her position as one of the few critics who is essential to our understanding of contemporary poetry. In The Poetics of Indeterminacy, her distinction of two traditions in modern poetry made possible a wider and more...

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Gregory L. Ulmer (review date Spring 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Futurist Moment, in Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, Vol. XXX, No. 2, Spring, 1988, pp. 263–65.

[In the review below, Ulmer offers a positive critique of The Futurist Moment.]

One reason perhaps why the work of Bakhtin is popular with American critics is that it is one of the best statements of the goals of scholarship today—a synthesis of formalist close reading with a socio-historical point of view. Marjorie Perloff's study [The Futurist Moment] does not cite Bakhtin but it does display the virtues of a formalist/historical synthesis. The organizing strategy is to ground the study first in the period just...

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Neil Corcoran (review date October 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Dance of the Intellect, in Modern Language Review, Vol. 83, No. 4, October, 1988, p. 988–89.

[In the following review of The Dance of the Intellect, Corcoran finds shortcomings in Perloff's thesis and tendency toward polemic.]

The title of this book [The Dance of the Intellect] is liable to suggest a coherence which its form in fact belies. A collection of previously-published essays on a range of writers from Pound himself to Williams, Oppen, Beckett, John Cage, and the recent American ‘L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E’ poets, it never clearly argues for the kinds of continuity or interrelationship one might expect in a study claiming...

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Steven Connor (review date October 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Futurist Moment, in Modern Language Review, Vol. 84, No. 4, October, 1989, p. 904–08.

[In the following excerpt, Connor commends Perloff's reevaluation of the Futurist movement in The Futurist Moment.]

One of the most interesting consequences of the recent debates about postmodernism. has been a renewed sense of the difficulty of defining the modernism which is apparently both recalled and surpassed in the term. In some writers, this difficulty is resolved by simply collapsing the distinction, so that the postmodern becomes a late revival of modernism's iconoclastic impetus, a modernism raised to a higher power. For others, the...

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Thomas M. Disch (review date 27 May 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Caution: Deconstruction Ahead,” in Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 27, 1990, p. 4.

[In the following review, Disch gives a negative assessment of Poetic License and avant-garde postmodern writing.]

Marjorie Perloff has a relationship toward the “postmodern” poetry she champions as a critic much like the relationship of Donna Elvira to Don Giovanni in Mozart's opera. She has a passionate enthusiasm for its potential that the repeated experience of its unworthiness never dampens. Perloff is a capable critic who sometimes marvels unduly at rudimentary prosodic skills but who has a basically serviceable sense of what is wheat and what is chaff....

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Charles Altieri (review date Winter 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Responsiveness to Lyric and the Critic's Responsibilities,” in Contemporary Literature, Vol. 32, No. 4, Winter, 1991, pp. 580–87.

[In the following review, Altieri praises Poetic License, but takes issue with Perloff's historical perspective and attitude toward subjective expression.]

Marjorie Perloff's Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric offers superb literary criticism—clear, lively, learned, passionate, vigorously opinionated, and stunningly discriminating on what is worth being opinionated about. Perloff's keen observation that Allen Ginsberg's poems have “an extraordinary sense of the moment, of being, so to...

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Michael Leddy (review date Spring 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Poetic License, in World Literature Today, Vol. 65, No. 2, Spring, 1991, pp. 307–08.

[In the following review, Leddy offers a summary of Perloff's essays and arguments in Poetic License,noting unflattering similarities between Perloff's approach and that of F. R. Leavis.]

Poetic License collects fifteen essays written between 1984 and 1989, all but three previously published. A glance at the acknowledgments suggests Marjorie Perloff's independence of critical camps and jargons: here is a critic at home in the pages of American Poetry Review and Sulfur, New Literary History and Temblor (and, for that...

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Willard Spiegelman (review date June 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Radical Artifice, in American Literature, Vol. 65, No. 2, June, 1993, pp. 388–89.

[Below, Spiegelman gives a positive review of Radical Artifice.]

This book [Radical Artifice] eloquently compresses many of its author's longtime interests while also striking out into new territory. Perloff's subject is not just poetry but its connections to many kinds of contemporary mediation. The media turn out to be the stars of the book, since poetry (at least the poetry of the avant-garde and the Language schools which Perloff favors), far from existing at a “pure,” obscure, or high level, has come down to grapple with, and even to imitate,...

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Reed Way Dasenbrock (review date July 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Radical Artifice, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 92, No. 3, July, 1993, pp. 412–14.

[In the following review, Dasenbrock gives a positive evaluation of Radical Artifice, but disagrees with Perloff's view of the avant-garde.]

Radical Artifice is an interesting, perceptive, rewarding, and important book, easily the best of Marjorie Perloff's many books and one of the most important books yet written on contemporary poetry. Its focus is the effect that the electronic media—particularly advertising and television—have had on contemporary poetry. This effect for Perloff has a negative and positive side. On...

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Leon Surette (review date Fall 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Radical Artifice, in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 51, No. 4, Fall, 1993, pp. 642–43.

[In the following positive review, Surette provides a summary analysis of Perloff's thesis and arguments in Radical Artifice.]

Marjorie Perloff is a distinguished commentator on the literature of this century, best known for her work on Futurism, one of the pre-First World War international and inter-art avant-garde movements. Radical Artifice takes on the avant-garde since 1960, observed from the angle of the institutions of popular culture—in particular television talk shows, and graphic advertisements. The project of the book is...

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Alan Golding (review date Spring 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Avant-Gardes and American Poetry,” in Contemporary Literature, Vol. XXXV, No. 1, Spring, 1994, pp. 156–70.

[In the following excerpt, Golding offers a positive critique of Perloff's thesis and central arguments in Radical Artifice.]

Paul Mann, Peter Bürger, Andreas Huyssen, Russell Berman, Fredric Jameson—these are only a few of the most familiar names in that substantial chorus caroling the death of the avant-garde in recent years. Too many theorists of the avant-garde's demise, however, overlook or have no way to explain (beyond the usual arguments about co-option) the continued presence of what looks for all the world like avant-garde...

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John Palatella (review date June 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Radical Artifice, in College Literature, Vol. 21, No. 2, June, 1994, pp. 165–70.

[In the following review, Palatella analyzes Perloff's revisionist literary history and theoretical positions in Radical Artifice and other previous works. According to Palatella, Perloff's oppositional dichotomy of modern and postmodern literature is unnecessarily reductive and partisan.]

For the past twenty years Marjorie Perloff has indefatigably committed herself to writing what she calls in Poetic License “a revisionist history of twentieth-century poetics” (2). In the mid-1970s, Perloff's essays on Ashbery, Beckett, Pound, and Stein...

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Sean Francis (review date Spring–Summer 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Radical Artifice, in Chicago Review, Vol. 40, Nos. 2–3, Spring–Summer, 1994, pp. 175–77.

[In the following review of Radical Artifice, Francis discusses Perloff's critique of modern culture and the role of avant-garde poetry.]

As its title succinctly announces, Marjorie Perloff's collection of essays [Radical Artifice] attempts to assess the impact of our culture's predominant modes of communication on contemporary poetry: “to understand,” as she writes, “the interplay between lyric poetry, generally regarded as the most conservative, the most intransigent of the ‘high’ arts, and the electronic media.” These...

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David R. Jarraway (review date November 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Marjorie Perloff Show: The Critic and Her Others,” in Minnesota Review, Nos. 43–44, November, 1995, pp. 212–22.

[In the following review of Radical Artifice, Jarraway criticizes Perloff's reductive view of modernism and her ideological commitment to postmodernism.]

In the field of twentieth-century letters, Marjorie Perloff might be considered one of our premier critics of literary modernism. She's already written three critical monographs on modern poets (W. B. Yeats, Robert Lowell, and Frank O'Hara), two focused studies on general traits in modern poetry (“Futurism” and the modernist/postmodernist “Lyric”), and has produced two...

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David Clippinger (review date Spring 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Wittgenstein's Ladder, in Chicago Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, Spring, 1997, pp. 117–21.

[In the following positive review, Clippinger discusses Perloff's thesis and theoretical position concerning aesthetics and ethics in Wittgenstein's Ladder.]

Ludwig Wittgenstein's place in philosophy is certain, but (for good or bad) he has yet to be embraced by literary theory, which remains firmly under the sway of Continental philosophy. Despite this neglect, Marjorie Perloff demonstrates in Wittgenstein's Ladder that Wittgenstein's proposition, “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”; his method of inquiry that layers question...

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Linda Munk (review date June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Wittgenstein's Ladder, in American Literature, Vol. 69, No. 2, June, 1997, pp. 435–36.

[In the review below, Munk gives a positive assessment of Wittgenstein's Ladder.]

In Jacob's dream, the landscape shapes itself into a ladder stretching from earth to heaven. In the Elegies, Rilke's lovers, like acrobats, have ladders “just propped by each other” (nur aneinander/lehnenden Leitern). Wittgenstein's ladder “is as equivocal as its destination,” writes Marjorie Perloff, who cites the Tractatus: “‘My propositions are elucidory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed...

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Rebecca Saunders (review date Summer 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Wittgenstein's Ladder, in Review of Contemporary Fiction, Vol. 17, No. 2, Summer, 1997, pp. 297–98.

[In the following review, Saunders praises Wittgenstein's Ladder, but notes occasional lapses of theoretical rigor in the work.]

If books could be cataloged by season, Wittgenstein's Ladder would be a summer: clear, temperate, disencumbered of hibernal rigors, undisturbed by stormy skies. The book explores what Marjorie Perloff terms a “Wittgensteinian poetics” both in works that bear a structural resemblance to Wittgenstein's thought and in texts that explicitly invoke him as an influence. On the one hand, the book offers a...

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Peter Middleton (review date April 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Wittgenstein's Ladder, in Journal of American Studies, Vol. 32, No. 1, April, 1998, pp. 186–87.

[In the following review, Middleton gives a favorable assessment of Wittgenstein's Ladder.]

For the past twenty five years, one influential movement in American poetry has been practising a linguistic acsesis which has stripped poetry of voice, metre, poetic diction, and theme, completing an earlier avant-garde mission to clear away all vestiges of specialized literary languages. Its usual targets are described as “the formalized first-person mode we call lyric poetry” (and its claim to be what Marjorie Perloff calls “the expression...

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Marcel Cornis-Pope (review date Winter 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Poetry On and Off the Page, in World Literature Today, Vol. 74, No. 1, Winter, 2000, p. 168.

[In the following review, Cornis-Pope analyzes Poetry On and Off the Page.]

Written for specific conferences, symposia, or edited volumes, the fourteen essays collected in Poetry On & Off the Page reexamine from the perspective of the nineties “how much our assumptions about [modernist and postmodernist poeticity] have changed.” As the opening essay, “Postmodernism/Fin de Siecle” suggests, our understanding of postmodernism has shifted from a utopian definition in the early 1970s that “involved a romantic faith in the...

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