By Jonathan Veitch
Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a author on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” yet previously no critic has succeeded in totally enticing West’s precise approach to negation. In American Superrealism, Jonathan Veitch examines West’s letters, brief tales, screenplays and novels—some of that are mentioned the following for the 1st time—as good as West’s collaboration with William Carlos Williams in the course of their tenure because the editors of touch. finding West in a full of life, American avant-garde culture that stretches from Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol, Veitch explores the chances and boundaries of dada and surrealism—the use of readymades, scatalogical humor, human machines, “exquisite corpses”—as modes of social feedback. American Superrealism bargains what's definitely the definitive examine of West, in addition to a provocative research that finds the difficulty of illustration because the significant main issue of Depression-era America.
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Extra resources for American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s
18 In contrast to those who rely on automatic techniques in order to create "art for art's sake," Greenberg identified another group of artists (to which we might add the names Marcel Duchamp and Nathanael West) who were indifferent to automatism as well as to its psychological implications. If that is the case, then what is the status of the unconscious for 20 PART I these particular artists? Does automatism, to quote Roger Shattuck, "dredge up profound, suppressed thoughts closely connected to childhood and primitive knowledge?
ON ART AND ANIMAL ACTS "The Fake" anticipates many of the themes that West will take up in his first novella, The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931), and looks forward to Euclid's Asshole 27 several others-performance, the collapse of critical distance, commodification-that will preoccupy the author in the books to follow. Like that short story, Balsa Snell is a dadaesque geste at the expense of art. This time around, however;West undertakes not just a disavowal of high modernism and the idealism of its art-for-art's-sake aestheticism, but a critique of nothing less than the grand tradition of Western culture upon which it depends.
8 None of this criticism would come as a surprise to West. He has, in fact, already anticipated his critics: "Stark, clever, disillusioned stuff" (32), observes one of the characters in the novella. " wonders another. Or better yet: "I'd give [him] a B minus and a good spanking" (23). Whether one ultimately decides on applause or a good spanking, there is little doubt that the architecture of West's imagination emerges in toto here. In fact, Balsa Snell constitutes a virtual breviary of images, interests, and techniques that West will go on to develop in the work to follow.