hugh kenner on guy davenport

“Certainly [Guy Davenport] can’t be convicted of not having a theory, though it is not a theory of reading but a theory of history. It is very likely untrue, but it got his book written. It says, I was happier at ten than I am at fifty-four, and a like pattern is discernible in America. As the fields where we sought those arrowheads are now under an immense lake, so oblivion has engulfed American consciousness, and arts vainly array particulars hardly anyone can command the knack to read. Hence these pages, in which I take pleasure in my own bright arrays, culled in homage from Poe and Pound and Grant Wood and Whitman and Joyce and Zukofsky and Eudora Welty and as many other sly but masterful spirits as I’ve had occasion to pay attention to.”

(Hugh Kenner, “A Geographer of the Imagination: the astute eye of Guy Davenport,” Harper’s, August 1981, p. 68.)

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