Princeton University Press Europe at the Oxford Literary Festival 2014

 

By Hannah Dummett, Princeton University Press Europe intern

McCall SmithLast Sunday marked the end of the 2014 Oxford Literary Festival: “bigger, better and more ambitious than ever”. A whirlwind nine days of authors, talks, photographers, book signings and  lunches, and amongst all of it the Princeton authors met with full auditoriums and avid audiences, often followed by a glass of Prosecco in the green room.

The Soul of the World author Roger Scruton had the audience in stitches of laughter (perhaps not what you’d expect from a talk by a philosopher) as he shed light on his idea of the sacred, at the same time as shamelessly, and hilariously, plugging his new books. Meanwhile, David Edmonds entered a lively discussion with Nigel Warburton. The audience were eager to join in and soon the topic of moral dilemma had led to a debate on the fate of flight MH370.

As one of the festival’s better-known authors, Alexander McCall Smith was hounded by the ‘literary paparazzi’, and one of our publicists was even coerced into being used as a photographer’s assistant (read: prop-holder). Over at Christ Church, Averil Cameron took us back more than 2500 years in time and explained why Byzantium is key to our understanding of other historical periods. Michael Scott argued his own case for the Greek city of Delphi – and gave us all a reason to visit this summer.

His book may be over 800 pages long, but Robert Bartlett kept things succinct and made sure that his audience were keen to discover what the other 700 pages hold in store. He was even awarded a printed apology from the Oxford Mail’s Jeremy Smith after he commented on Bartlett’s “modest attire” while introducing the talk. Husband and wife astronomer/authors Jacqueline and Simon Mitton, both struck down with a virus picked up on a recent cruise, put on a brave face despite their illness and managed to plunge their audience into the depths of the history of the universe, visiting far-away galaxies via new-born stars and black holes.

The increasingly relevant topic of narcissism and self-love was examined by Simon Blackburn, discussing his new book Mirror, Mirror, and political journalist Edmund Fawcett kept the audience listening with an absorbing talk on differing forms of liberalism. To top it off, the “charming, charismatic” Ian Goldin gave an excellent lecture on how the recent financial crash could have an extreme effect on a wide range of factors in our everyday lives. We’ve been out of the office again this week, this time for London Book Fair – the fun is non-stop this month!

 

Princeton authors speaking at Oxford Literary Festival 2014

We are delighted that the following Princeton authors will be speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival in Oxford, UK, in the last week of March. Details of all events can be found at the links below:images5L8V7T97

Jacqueline and Simon Mitton, husband and wife popular astronomy writers and authors of From Dust to Life: The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System and Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe respectively, will be speaking  on Monday 24 March at 4:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Monday-24/in-search-of-our-cosmic-origins-from-the-big-bang-to-a-habitable-planet

David Edmonds, author of Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us  about Right and Wrong will be speaking on Monday 24 March at 6:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Monday-24/morality-puzzles-would-you-kill-the-fat-man

Robert Bartlett, author of Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation will be speaking on Tuesday 25 March at 2:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Tuesday-25/why-can-the-dead-do-such-great-things

Michael Scott, author of Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 10:00am http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Wednesday-26/delphi-a-history-of-the-centre-of-the-ancient-world

Simon Blackburn, author of Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 4:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Wednesday-26/mirror-mirror-the-uses-and-abuses-of-self-love

Roger Scruton author of the forthcoming The Soul of the World will be speaking Thursday 27 March 12:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Thursday-27/the-soul-of-the-world

Alexander McCall Smith, author of What W. H. Auden Can Do for You will be speaking about how this poet has enriched his life and can enrich yours too on Friday 28 March at 12:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Friday-28/what-w-h-auden-can-do-for-youMcCallSmith_Auden

Averil Cameron, author of Byzantine Matters will be speaking on Friday 28 March at 2:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Friday-28/byzantine-matters

Edmund Fawcett, author of Liberalism: The Life of an Idea will be speaking on Saturday 29 March at 10:00am http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Saturday-29/liberalism-the-life-of-an-idea

In addition, Ian Goldin will be giving the inaugural “Princeton Lecture” at The Oxford Literary Festival, on the themes within his forthcoming book, The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It on Thursday 27 March at 6:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Thursday-27/the-princeton-lecture-the-butterfly-defect-how-globalisation-creates-system

 

Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra, and Michael Wood discuss the Dictionary of Untranslatables [VIDEO]

Earlier this week, close to one hundred humanities lovers gathered for a discussion around the Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon with editors Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra, and Michael Wood, due out this month from Princeton University Press.

Please enjoy this video of the entire event, the first in this season’s Great New Books in the Humanities series co-sponsored by the Humanities Initiative and by the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University:

 

Save the Date: Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics event 2/4

Calling all poetry and reference fans in the tri-state area! Full announcement via Public Books and the Heyman Center:

Poetry Reading and Talk: Reference Works

February 4, 2014 — 6:15 p.m.
The Schapiro Center, Davis Auditorium
Columbia University
New York, New York

Reference Poetry Event at Columbia
Poets talk about the scholarly resources that inspire them, including poetry anthologies, rhyming dictionaries, standard dictionaries, handbooks of poetic forms, and other resources, such as the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (the latest edition of which was published in 2013).

 

Participants include:

• Nada Gordon, Instructor of English at Pratt Institute

Dorothea Lasky, Assistant Professor in the School of the Arts at Columbia University

Tan Lin, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at New Jersey City University

Bob Perelman, Professor of English at University of Pennsylvania;

Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Associate Professor of English at State University of New York Stony Brook.

Co-sponsored by the Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Columbia University Department of English and Comparative Literature, and The Koch-Dupee Poetry of the American Avant-Garde Reading Series

It’s Time To Re-Center Your Round-Up

A lot of people look at the holidays as a time to decompress, re-center themselves, and re-energize for the new year. Plus with New Year’s Resolutions flying  around, it’s the perfect time to read some books about how to better yourself both inside and out. No, I’m not saying you need to read a self-help book and cry into a pint of ice cream over your failures, but maybe you could get in touch with your spiritual, creative, mellow side with some poetry, yoga, and a bottle of Chardonnay.

Listed below we have six of our titles that we think will be perfect for helping you relax amongst the crazy and find a little inner peace . Plus, depending on how much of that wine you’ve had, you might even learn some interesting things to apply to your everyday life. Enjoy!

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Yoga in Practice

Edited by David Gordon White
Yoga is a body of practice that spans two millennia and transcends the boundaries of any single religion, geographic region, or teaching lineage. Yoga in Practice is an anthology of primary texts drawn from the diverse yoga traditions of India, greater Asia, and the West. Emphasizing the lived experiences to be found in the many worlds of yoga, Yoga in Practice includes David Gordon White’s informative general introduction as well as concise introductions to each reading by the book’s contributors.

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The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams

By: C. G. Jung, Translated by R.F.C. Hull
“The Undiscovered Self” is a plea for Jung’s generation–and those to come–to continue the individual work of self-discovery and not abandon needed psychological reflection for the easy ephemera of mass culture. Only individual awareness of both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the human psyche will allow the great work of human culture to continue and thrive. Jung’s reflections on self-knowledge and the exploration of the unconscious carry over into the second essay, “Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams,”. Describing dreams as communications from the unconscious, Jung explains how the symbols that occur in dreams compensate for repressed emotions and intuitions.

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Self-Fulfillment

By: Alan Gewirth
Cultures around the world have regarded self-fulfillment as the ultimate goal of human striving and as the fundamental test of the goodness of a human life. The ideal has also been criticized, however, as egotistical or as so value-neutral that it fails to distinguish between, for example, self-fulfilled sinners and self-fulfilled saints. Alan Gewirth presents here a systematic and highly original study of self-fulfillment that seeks to overcome these and other arguments and to justify the high place that the ideal has been accorded by developing an ethical theory that ultimately grounds the value of self-fulfillment in the idea of the dignity of human beings.

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The Brain and the Meaning of Life

By: Paul Thagard
Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? This book draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life’s nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Thagard shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe.

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The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

By: Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
This book presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed–they just use their minds differently. By using these straightforward and thought-provoking techniques, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself–revealing previously hidden opportunities. Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, this book will inspire and guide you on your way.

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition

Roland Greene, editor in chief
Over more than four decades, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has built an unrivaled reputation as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for students, scholars, and poets on all aspects of its subject: history, movements, genres, prosody, rhetorical devices, critical terms, and more. Now the book has been thoroughly revised and updated for the twenty-first century. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, the fourth edition reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes.

Meredith Martin Wins the 2012 MLA Prize for a First Book

Meredith MartinThe Rise and Fall of Meter: Poetry and English National Culture, 1860–1930
Winner of the 2012 MLA Prize for a First Book, Modern Language Association

Meredith Martin’s The Rise and Fall of Meter is an impressive, elegant work that intervenes in old and new literary histories alike. This book traces the surprisingly polemical history of the standardization of English prosody. Bringing to light new archival materials, the work excavates the full turbulence and excitement of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century debates about English verse rhythms. Complex, concise, and clear, Martin’s book deftly weaves together cultural analysis; the study of language, form, and sound; and literary history. With a rich critical eclecticism, the book reframes and reanimates our understanding of the history of poetry and poetics. The result is an intriguing story, as relevant to the new aesthetics as it is to older historical and cultural studies. Martin’s work reminds us that at its best, great scholarship has much in common with great storytelling. To read more, click here.

http://press.princeton.edu/images/k9715.gif The Rise and Fall of Meter tells the unknown story of English meter from the late eighteenth century until just after World War I. Uncovering a vast and unexplored archive in the history of poetics, Meredith Martin shows that the history of prosody is tied to the ways Victorian England argued about its national identity. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Coventry Patmore, and Robert Bridges used meter to negotiate their relationship to England and the English language; George Saintsbury, Matthew Arnold, and Henry Newbolt worried about the rise of one metrical model among multiple competitors. The pressure to conform to a stable model, however, produced reactionary misunderstandings of English meter and the culture it stood for. This unstable relationship to poetic form influenced the prose and poems of Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, and Alice Meynell. A significant intervention in literary history, this book argues that our contemporary understanding of the rise of modernist poetic form was crucially bound to narratives of English national culture.

Meredith Martin is associate professor of English at Princeton University.

Poet, Critic Susan Stewart to Lead Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets

Stewart_Love Lessons_AUphotoPrinceton University Press is pleased to announce that the poet and MacArthur Fellow Susan Stewart will be the new editor for its Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. She succeeds Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and New Yorker poetry editor.

Stewart, who also has had a distinguished career as a critic and translator, is currently the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities: Professor of English at Princeton University where she teaches aesthetics, poetics, and the history of poetry and directs the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. Stewart is a past chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

On her appointment, Susan Stewart said: “At this moment, when American poets have taken so many new directions in their individual poems and the shapes of their books of poems, I look forward to considering a wide range of submissions, from new and established poets alike. The series will, I hope, feature volumes notable for their originality and considered sense of form.”

Princeton Humanities Publisher Rob Tempio said: “Everyone at Princeton University Press is thrilled and honored that Susan has agreed to succeed Paul Muldoon as editor of the Contemporary Poets series. She is a brilliant poet, scholar and critic who is perfectly poised to identify and foster compelling and original voices from all areas of contemporary poetry.”

Stewart will serve for a three year term. Submissions of complete manuscripts for the series may be sent to the Press between the dates of May 1st and May 31st each year and Stewart will announce selections each September.

Princeton University Press published Stewart’s first book of poems Yellow Stars and Ice as part of the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets in 1981 and also published her translation Love Lessons: Selected Poems of Alda Merini in 2009. Her volumes of poetry include The Hive, The Forest, Red Rover, and Columbarium, which won the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Through the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets, the Princeton University Press is dedicated to publishing the best work of today’s emerging and established poets. Starting in 1975 with the publication of Sadness and Happiness: Poems by Robert Pinsky, the series quickly distinguished itself as one of the most important publishing projects of its kind, winning praise from critics and poets alike. Other publications in the series include landmark collections such as Before Recollection (1987) by Ann Lauterbach, Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (1980) and Erosion (1983) by Jorie Graham, The Eternal City: Poems (2010) by Kathleen Graber, and Almanac: Poems (2013) by Austin Smith.

Media Inquiries:
Casey LaVela
casey_lavela@press.princeton.edu
609.258.9491

Virtual Roundtable on The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

http://press.princeton.edu/images/k9677.gifThrough three editions over more than four decades, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has built an unrivaled reputation as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for students, scholars, and poets on all aspects of its subject: history, movements, genres, prosody, rhetorical devices, critical terms, and more. Now this landmark work has been thoroughly revised and updated for the twenty-first century. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, the fourth edition–the first new edition in almost twenty years–reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes.

Perhaps this is why Public Books chose to put together a virtual roundtable for the book. As their website says:

“First published in 1965, the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics is a reference volume for poetry enthusiasts and literary scholars alike. Last year, a significantly revised fourth edition appeared, covering 110 nations, regions, and languages, and with 250 new entries on subjects ranging from “boustrophedon” (bidirectional texts) to “hip-hop poetry” and “anthem, national.” Public Books asked poets to respond in verse and prose to individual entries.

Today’s “Great Idleness” in Washington and Cavafy’s “Waiting for the Barbarians”

“And now what’s to become of us without barbarians.
Those people were a solution of a sort.”

 	 C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems As the DC stalemate continues, author and essayist Daniel Mendelsohn reminds us that this waiting is nothing new. Just ask the late Greek poet C.P. Cavafy, whose wise words are the basis for Mendelsohn’s recent post on the New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog.

Cavafy’s poem, “Waiting for the Barbarians,” describes a scene where leaders in scarlet togas wait for the old fashioned decision makers to arrive and shake things up. These barbarians are “bored by eloquence and public speaking,” a combination that does not lead to action. Nonetheless, the barbarians never arrive in Cavafy’s city, and without these visitors, everyone returns home.

“Cultural exhaustion, political inertia, the perverse yearning for some violent crisis that might break the deadlock and reinvigorate the state: these themes, so familiar to us right now, were favorites of Cavafy,” Mendelsohn writes.

With the debt ceiling deadline approaching and an estimated 800,000 government workers stuck in limbo, the barbarian option is sounding better and better. Read Mendelsohn’s entire piece here.For more of Cavary’s work, pick up a copy of C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

 

*Happy British National Poetry Day!*

A Celebration of Poetry in the Past 20 Years by Princeton University Press intern, Oliver Newman

The cloning of Dolly the sheep, 9/11, the introduction of the Euro, the election of the first black American president, the birth of Justin Bieber… A lot has happened in the 20 years since the last edition of The Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics was published. What, though, has happened in the world of contemporary poetry (not including Justin Bieber’s rise to fame)?

k9677T.S. Eliot once declared that, at its best, contemporary poetry ‘can give us a feeling of excitement and a sense of fulfilment different from any sentiment aroused even by very much greater poetry of a past age.’ Here, Eliot is implying that contemporary poetry can evoke powerful emotional reactions borne from its immediate relevance to, and subsequent reflection of, the age in which we live. Adopting this philosophy, poetry’s development during the last 20 years should reflect the development of modern society. This is immediately apparent with the rise of electronic poetry, which resembles our age through its inherent reliance upon modern technological advances and almost unlimited, instantaneous networking via the internet. However, the correlation between contemporary poetry and the present age is perhaps most interesting when examining the medium’s development as a social spectacle, and poetry is rarely more spectacular than when being “slammed” from one opponent to another.

Poetry slamming first appeared in 1984, and has generated heated reactions from poets and academics alike. Unlike electronic poetry, which leaves original material unaltered, poetry slamming is predominantly reliant upon impermanent, sensual reactions that manifest out of the spectacle surrounding the original material, lending it to comparisons with some of the most popular forms of entertainment available today. ‘Seeing poetry slams often reminds me of watching American Idol. You’ve got a series of judges, an audience that comes in looking for a certain shtick that they want to see and that’s what they’re going to cheer for’, stated University of South Carolina Professor Kip Fulbeck in an interview with the Santa Barbara Independent. Whether the audience is ‘looking for a certain kind of shtick’ is subjective, but poetry slamming’s resemblance to shows such as American Idol and X-Factor is certainly evident. Indeed, it follows the same basic formula – three minute rounds, multiple opponents who are graded respectively by a panel of judges, and a general emphasis upon personality and performance.

While academics such as Harold Bloom, who has labelled poetry slamming ‘the death of art’, denounce the form for its reliance upon exhibitionism and competition, it could be argued that these very features elevate the medium to an altogether new art form, one that ironically reflects our age in a way that ordinary poetry could never do. By consciously emphasising performance over artistry, purveyors of the form are unconsciously parodying the age’s fascination with spectacle over original material, a fascination displayed through the overwhelming popularity of shows such as X-Factor (the 2011 final of which garnered a viewing audience of just over 15 million people).

Whether or not these resemblances give the reader a feeling of excitement and a sense of fulfilment equal to poetry of a past age, or whether it simply distorts the artistry of the original material is just one of the many themes explored in the new edition of The Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics. In fact this fourth edition, revised and updated for the twenty-first century, offers more than 250 new entries and covers all aspects of poetry from its history, movements and genres, to its rhetorical devices, critical terms and more, making it the most comprehensive and definitive edition yet.

Happy National Poetry Day!

 

 

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics Praise for previous editions: “An extraordinarily helpful volume that will save untold hours of reference time for the student, the general reader, and the literary scholar.”–Modern Language Journal

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics:
Fourth Edition
Roland Greene, editor in chief; Stephen Cushman, general editor
Clare Cavanagh, Jahan Ramazani & Paul Rouzer, associate editors

Through three editions over more than four decades, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has built an unrivaled reputation as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for students, scholars, and poets on all aspects of its subject: history, movements, genres, prosody, rhetorical devices, critical terms, and more. Now this landmark work has been thoroughly revised and updated for the twenty-first century. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, the fourth edition–the first new edition in almost twenty years–reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes

At well over a million words and more than 1,000 entries, the Encyclopedia has unparalleled breadth and depth. Entries range in length from brief paragraphs to major essays of 15,000 words, offering a more thorough treatment–including expert synthesis and indispensable bibliographies–than conventional handbooks or dictionaries.

This is a book that no reader or writer of poetry will want to be without.

Endorsements

Table of Contents

Sample this book:

Preface [PDF]

Contributors [PDF]

Topical List of Entries [PDF]

New Entries [PDF]

Electronic Poetry [PDF]

Rhythm [PDF]

Translation [PDF]

Verse and Prose [PDF]

Request an examination copy.

 

Two for Tuesday – Auden and Picasso

W. H. Auden and Pablo Picasso were brilliant twentieth century artists creating images — one through poetry, and the other, through paintings. Princeton University Press is pleased to announce the publication of two new books focusing on their work.

audenFor the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio
W. H. Auden
Edited and with an introduction by Alan Jacobs

For the Time Being is a pivotal book in the career of one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. W. H. Auden had recently moved to America, fallen in love with a young man to whom he considered himself married, rethought his entire poetic and intellectual equipment, and reclaimed the Christian faith of his childhood. Then, in short order, his relationship fell apart and his mother, to whom he was very close, died. In the midst of this period of personal crisis and intellectual remaking, he decided to write a poem about Christmas and to have it set to music by his friend Benjamin Britten. Applying for a Guggenheim grant, Auden explained that he understood the difficulty of writing something vivid and distinctive about that most clichéd of subjects, but welcomed the challenge. In the end, the poem proved too long and complex to be set by Britten, but in it we have a remarkably ambitious and poetically rich attempt to see Christmas in double focus: as a moment in the history of the Roman Empire and of Judaism, and as an ever-new and always contemporary event for the believer. For the Time Being is Auden’s only explicitly religious long poem, a technical tour de force, and a revelatory window into the poet’s personal and intellectual development. This edition provides the most accurate text of the poem, a detailed introduction by Alan Jacobs that explains its themes and sets the poem in its proper contexts, and thorough annotations of its references and allusions.

Alan Jacobs is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois. He previously edited Auden’s The Age of Anxiety for this series, and is the author of several books, including most recently The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction.

We invite you to read the Preface online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/p9946.pdf

picassoPicasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica
T. J. Clark

Was Picasso the artist of the twentieth century? In Picasso and Truth, T. J. Clark uses his inimitable skills as art historian and writer to answer this question and reshape our understanding of Picasso’s achievement. Supported by more than 200 images, Clark’s new approach to the central figure of modern art focuses on Picasso after the First World War: his galumphing nudes of the early 1920s, the incandescent Guitar and Mandolin on a Table from 1924, Three Dancers done a year later, the hair-raising Painter and Model from 1927, the monsters and voracious bathers that follow, and finally–summing up but also saying farewell to the age of Cubism–the great mural Guernica.

Based on Clark’s A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, delivered at the National Gallery of Art, Picasso and Truth argues that the way to take Picasso’s true measure as an artist is to leave behind biography–the stale stories of lovers and hangers-on and suntans at the beach that presently constitute the “Picasso literature”–and try to follow the steps of his pictorial argument. As always with Clark, specific works of art hold center stage. But finding words for them involves thinking constantly about modern culture in general. Here the book takes Nietzsche as guide.

Is Picasso the artist Nietzsche was hoping for–the one come to cure us of our commitment to Truth? Certainly, as the dark central years of the twentieth century encroached, Picasso began to lose confidence in Cubism’s comprehensiveness and optimism. Picasso and Truth charts this shift in vivid detail, making it possible for us to see Picasso turn away from eyesight, felt proximity, and the ground of shared experience–the warmth and safety that Clark calls “room-space”–to stake everything on a glittering, baffling, unbelievable here and now. And why? Because the most modernity can hope for from art, Picasso’s new paintings seem to say, is a picture of the strange damaged world we have made for ourselves. In all its beauty and monstrosity.

T. J. Clark is George C. and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Art History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Painting of Modern Life (Princeton), The Sight of Death, and Farewell to an Idea, and the coauthor of (with “Retort”) Afflicted Powers.

We invite you to listen to an interview with T. J. Clark on BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves (22 minutes in).
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p019yny0