XL Prynne

Sutherland, Keston (2007) XL Prynne. In: Purves, Robin and Ladkin, Sam (eds.) Complicities: British poetry 1945-2007. Literaria Pragensia, Prague, pp. 43-73. ISBN 9788073081942

Full text not available from this repository.


The article provides an account of "radical thinking" in the poetry of J.H. Prynne from its beginnings in the 1960s to the present day. It discusses the long growth and historical variation of the idea that thinking can be or must be radical, offering a significant new interpretation of that idea in Marx's Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, as well as numerous reflections on other authors, from Dryden, Kant and Schlegel to Lukacs and Butler. I argue that radicalism in all these very different authors was always described in terms of size or dimension, and that Prynne was among the first thinkers (and poets) to literalise that quasi-metaphoric description and to exploit it as the basis for a new poetic ontology. I distinguish radical thinking from realism on literary and theoretical grounds, showing how Prynne argues that realism is an inadequate mode of access to the truth of other people's suffering. I offer the first published account of Prynne's close association with the American poet Charles Olson that seeks patiently to reconstruct their shared thinking, and to assess not only the theoretical importance, but more significantly, the deep affective potency of that thinking for both writers and for Prynne especially. The article concludes with some reflections on the too often occluded trauma that underwrites the necessary progress of ideology critique from 1970 to the present day. This essay, before its publication but following private circulation, has already been hailed by numerous professional critics working in the field of contemporary avant-garde poetry as the single most important essay on the work of J.H. Prynne yet written.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Depositing User: Keston Sutherland
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:20
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2012 10:59
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25508
📧 Request an update