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American Modernism's Expatriate SceneThe Labour of Translation$
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Daniel Katz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748625260

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625260.001.0001

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Homecomings: The Poet's Prose of Ashbery, Schuyler and Spicer

Homecomings: The Poet's Prose of Ashbery, Schuyler and Spicer

(p.140) Chapter 7 Homecomings: The Poet's Prose of Ashbery, Schuyler and Spicer
American Modernism's Expatriate Scene

Daniel Katz

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores first Jack Spicer's unfinished detective novel, which stages the ‘return’ to San Francisco of aspiring poet J. J. Ralston, who, after several years of academic work on the east coast, comes home precisely to find an origin become unrecognisable. The second is John Ashbery's and James Schuyler's co-authored A Nest of Ninnies. The emphasis on possession and self-identity are somewhat at odds with the poetics of ‘dictation’, the ‘outside’, ‘correspondences’ and haunting, which say nothing of Spicer's pronouncement. A Nest of Ninnies ends on no such note of ‘hereness’ and geographical and cultural continuity, as one might well imagine. In Spicer, Ashbery and Schuyler, one sees where American transatlantic cosmopolitan modernism also invariably, dialectically tended, while the museum fades into its other, which, since Henry James, has at least also been its double: the shopping mall, which Europe's ghosts ask no better than to haunt.

Keywords:   Jack Spicer, J. J. Ralston, John Ashbery, James Schuyler, Nest of Ninnies, cosmopolitan modernism, Henry James

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