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Until now, Bergson's widely acknowledged impact on American literature has never been comprehensively mapped. Author Paul Douglass explains and evaluates Bergson's meaning for American writers, beginning with Eliot and moving through Ransom, Penn Warren, and Tate to Faulkner, Wallace Stevens, Henry Miller, William Carlos Williams, and others. It will be a standard point of reference.

Bergson was the continental philosopher of the early 1900s, a celebrity, as Sartre would later be. Profoundly influential throughout Europe, and widely discussed in England and America in the Teens, Twenties, and Thirties, Bergson is now rarely read. His current "obsolescence," Douglass argues, illuminates the Western shift from Modern to post- Modern.

Ambitious in scope, this book remains admirably close to Bergson himself: what he said, where that fits in the historical context of philosophy, why his ideas moved across the Atlantic, and how he affected American writers. At the book's heart are readings of Eliot's criticism and poetry, analyses of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Light in August, and evaluations of Ransom's, Tate's and Penn Warren's criticism.

This impressively researched and beautifully written study will remain of lasting value to students of American literature.

Paul Douglass is assistant professor of English literature at Mercer University in Atlanta. He is the author of articles on T.S. Eliot, Anthony Powell, Lord Byron, Modernism, and Organicism.

"Valuable for reopening the Bergson issue and for showing that many writers, Eliot especially, made use of Bergsonism long after they had publicly rejected it."—South Atlantic Review

Publication Date

2014

Publisher

The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY

ISBN

9780813160160

eISBN

9780813161631

Keywords

Henri Bergson, T. S Eliot, Bergsonism, American literature

Disciplines

Literature in English, North America

Bergson, Eliot, and American Literature
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