America’s most provocative intellectual brings her blazing powers of analysis to the most famous poems of the Western tradition—and unearths. Break, Blow, Burn By Camille Paglia. pp. Pantheon Books. $ CLEARLY designed as a come-on for bright students who don’t yet know. CLEARLY designed as a come-on for bright students who don’t yet know very much about poetry, Camille Paglia’s new book anthologizes

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Though hit-and-miss, Paglia’s picks and appraisals provide the requisite spark for jump-starting returns to poetry. No, by her estimate those battles are now border skirmishes. My main issue with her commentary is that she has serious issues with sex and God. Recording how she became, at the age of 4, ”a ca,ille idolater of pagan goddesses” after seeing Ava Gardner in ”Show Boat,” she tells us why she is less than thrilled with Madonna.

How to Finally, Really Grow Up.

The criticisms she offers are insightful and I’m learning a lot just by looking at how she reads a poem. After all, “Thanks to Madonna,” she says, “the camill pro-sex wing of feminism, which had been ostracized since the ’60s, came back with a vengeance. I haven’t changed my mind, but I should mention her collection of poetry criticism, Break,Blow,Burn.

Break, Blow, Burn – Camille Paglia discusses poetry

It seems that she understands what it means when poets say what they write “when the spirit moves them”. Paglia’s volume will not satisfy readers already familiar with the dead famous poets whose poems take up most of it. Paglia also pays meticulous attention to language, which can produce delightful insights as well as writing that’s a pleasure in itself: Some sentences sound outrageous but in fact offer imaginative guidance, as when Paglia imagines William Blake roaming London “with telepathic hearing and merciless X-ray eyes” or explains Walt Whitman’s universe as “a plush matrix or webwork of gummy secretions.

The bystanders’ most presumptuous claims — “i know what you’re thinking” and “i don’t think you really mean that” — evict her from her own mental space. But such readers are not her intended audience. The poems, most of them no more than a page, are imbued with a richness that Paglia masterfully shines light on, fulfilling her goal to “illuminate” them. But as the decades passed and poststructuralism, postmodernism, and New Historicism took root in the academy, I began to realize how many of my skills as a commentator on art and culture came from my early training in the New Criticism.


Her tormentors’ baiting insinuations mire her in subtext. Aug 30, Isabelle rated it liked it. I would have expected a writer as provocative as Camille to have afforded more insight into the poems chosen here.

When the book moves toward modern times, it moves toward America. My favorite part is where Camille nixes Marianne Moore because she fails to match the “high-impact, around-the-clock sports talk on radio and TV”. Paglia’s readings have a musical, intuitive effect, like a great musician playing the music of a great composer.

This is one of those books that I respected much more than I enjoyed. Amazingly, the conversation had become as dumb as it was insulated. Not all the essays are as clear or well-argued, though. Paglia defines her critical stance as Old Historicism, which views poems as artifacts of a particular place and time, elucidated in part by the poet’s biography.

Paglia reminds us that criticism is also, in the hands of some, creativity of a high order, and her gift is to keep both poetry and passion in our face.

There seems to have been two.

Jul 14, Leisha Wharfield rated it really liked it. The 70 Best Albums of The contemporary poems she does choose come from several styles and schools May Swenson’s precisionism, Gary Snyder’s Zen notation, Norman H.

Unlike other reviewers who didn’t like the slection of poems, I really appreciated the mix of classic standards with modern poems I wasn’t familiar with, and which seem to have been selected for their accessibility and power. There are also mistakes, though not so many as to imperil her project: The book received one extra star for including a poem by my uncle Norman Russell. I saw poems such as ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’ dissected over and over, the moment that my mother wrote them being applied to her whole life, to her whole person, as if they brwak the total sum of her experience.

Until very recently, from Samuel Johnson to the advent of modern politico-criticism, this has always been the approach to poetry.


Break, Blow, Burn by Camille Paglia

One would like to have heard her answer. Jan 07, Mark rated it it was ok Shelves: The aim of the collection, hardly surprising, was to have the stressed audience abandon their cell phones, lap tops, and exercise equipment and make time to smell the roses before they were gonetrampled under the heel of progress.

She seems to enjoy being alone. Linking to a self-avowed feminist writing for the markedly un-Fox News like Salon. While I was looking forward to reading this, I was vastly disappointed. She’s still handsomely bold, but, this time, in a more impersonal way.

Camille Paglia discusses Poetry with TMO

Paglia, herself a member of this much maligned at least by me community. Alfred rated it really liked it. Paglia delivers the goods- her ideas are as provocative and irreverent as ever, her tone just as aggressive, her passion for her subject just as infectious.

Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinsonpublished in breal, became a bestseller. Poetry Literary Criticism Category: On the contrary, they were limitless.

It contains the voyeurism and sexual freedom that Paglia cherishes. Leaving out the possibility that Plath might have been saying she was nuts, Paglia does Plath the honor of taking her at her word. In each case, Paglia follows the poet in the process of bringing together the poem, their process of perception, beginning with what was observed, the associations the image conjures or suggests, and delicately observing how the poet controls their associations, no less careful than a great composer, giving play to the various senses and associations each phrase and delicious reference appeals to.

It’s an exercise in mental toughening: Matthew Arnold noted that literary epochs may tend to swing between moments of creative impulse and critical consideration. The short poem by Frank O’Hara should have been marked with a caveat: The contextual details w This is one of those books that I respected much more than I enjoyed.