Modern American literature began with a statement of enthusiasm from Emerson's writing in Nature. 'Enthusiasm', in Emerson, is a knowing word. Sometimes its use is as description, invariably approving, of a historic form of religious experience. Socrates' meaning of enthusiasm, and the image of the enthusiast it throws up, is crucial to this book. The book is a portrait of the writer as an enthusiast, where the portrait, as will become clear, carries more than a hint of polemic. It is about the transmission of literature, showing various writers taking responsibility for that transmission, whether within in their writing or in their cultural activism. Henry David Thoreau's Walden is an enthusiastic book. It is where enthusiasm works both in Immanuel Kant's sense of the unbridled self, and in William Penn's sense of the 'nearer' testament, and in Thoreau's own sense of supernatural serenity. Establishing Ezra Pound's enthusiasm is a fraught and complicated business. Marianne Moore composed poems patiently, sometimes over several years. She is a poet of things, as isolated things - jewels, curios, familiar and exotic animals, common and rare species of plant - are often the ostensible subjects of her poems. Homage to Frank O'Hara is a necessary book, because the sum of his aesthetic was to be found not just in his writing, but also in his actions to which only friends and contemporaries could testify. An enthusiastic reading of James Schuyler brings to the fore pleasure, the sheer pleasure that can come of combining, or mouthing, or transcribing.
Translating W. G. Sebald, with and without the author
reasonably convincing. Translation, as
I have said elsewhere, is a matter of illusion, the illusion being that the words before
the reader are the author’s own. In trying to create that illusion, translators have
their own small contribution to make to the transmissionofliterature, and perhaps
in the case of a writer like Max Sebald even to the work of restitution of which he
speaks. It was not just a pleasure but a great privilege to be associated with him for
the brief period of my translation of those three books of his.
1 For further fragments (in German) from
Afterword: enthusiasm and audit
This book has been about the transmissionofliterature. It has shown various
writers taking responsibility for that transmission, whether within their
writing or in their cultural activism. The word for both kinds of action has
been enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, it has been argued, is integral to what Modern
American literature, in particular, knows; enthusiasm being, as each of the
writers discussed here has one way or another understood it, the state of mind
in which composition is possible. It is also integral to the circulation of
Buchli (Oxford: Berg, 2002), pp. 1–22, at p. 18. My emphasis.
5 R. M. Liuzza, ‘The Texts of the Old English Riddle 30 ’, JEGP , 87 (1988), 1–15, at p. 3 (list of textual variants at p. 4). See also A. N. Doane, ‘Spacing, Placing and Effacing: Scribal Textuality and Exeter Riddle 30 a/b’, in New Approaches to Editing Old English Verse , ed. Sarah Larratt Keefer and Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1998), pp. 45–65; Jonathan Wilcox, ‘TransmissionofLiterature and Learning’, in A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature , ed. Phillip Pulsiano and
, indeed, the critical voices at work in Campo Santo
without his input became the great challenge after his death. Nonetheless, drawing
on real and imagined conversations with Sebald, Bell reflects on how she was able
to maintain the ‘illusion’ of authorial presence and, in so doing, not only contribute
more broadly to the ‘transmissionofliterature’ but also, in her own way, collaborate more specifically in Sebald’s project of literary restitution.
4003 Baxter-A literature:Layout 1
A literature of restitution
Taking up Bell’s understanding
Literature (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012).
23 See Mercedes Salvador-Bello, Isidorean Perceptions of Order: The Exeter Book Riddles and Medieval Latin Enigmata (Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2015); Peter Orton, ‘The Exeter Book Riddles : Authorship and Transmission’, ASE , 44 (2015), 131–62.
24 See my ‘TransmissionofLiterature and Learning: Anglo-Saxon Scribal Culture’, in A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature , ed. Phillip Pulsiano and Elaine M. Treharne (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), pp. 50–70.
25 See Daniel Anlezark, ed., The Old English