Love’s Shadow

Paul A. Bové. Harvard, $59.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-674-97715-0
Bové (A More Conservative Place), a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, issues a spirited manifesto urging literary critics to rid themselves of the belief that “all humanity is abject” and to embrace poetry and literature for their evidence of human imagination and survival. “Melancholics,” he writes, are “wrong conceptually, wrong historically,” and he argues that society should “embrace, defend, and learn from” poets and critics. Bové lays the responsibility for despair-riddled theory at the feet of Walter Benjamin, an early 20th-century German philosopher who advanced the idea of “melancholy as the historically necessary symptom of a fallen world.” In countering this, Bové explores Wallace Stevens’s “confidence in imagination” in his poetry, essential questions in Theodore Adorno’s essays about what it means to be human, and the persistent human struggle between light and dark captured by Rembrandt’s paintings. While he can veer into scholarly jargon (“The latter is many things that help a poem configure eros as style. Idiosyncrasy and eccentricity metonymize transport as the work of style and its substance”), Bové’s close readings make for a critical tour de force. This passionate call offers a refreshing contribution to the philosophy of criticism. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 01/15/2021
Release date: 01/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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