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The Guest from the Futureby Jon Stallworthy
Synopses & Reviews
It represents what Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Laureate in literature, called art's power of "redress." Stallworthy's poems evoke women survivors; the poet Anna Akhmatova; the painter Francoise Cilot, Picasso's lover; a survivor of the siege of Stalingrad; and a woman who escaped war torn Poland, carrying in her bedding-roll a coverlet she was embroidering for her fiance and herself. This refugee's story bears a curious inverse relationship with that of the "Lady of Shalott": Tennyson's patrician artist in her tower, forced to choose between the world and its "shadows" in her mirror opts for the world and is destroyed; Stallworthy's peasant artist engages with the world and is sustained by an art that reflects that engagement.
An old friend told Jon Stallworthy of her flight from war-torn Poland, carrying in her bedding-roll a coverlet she was embroidering for her fiance and herself. Her story bears a curious inverse relationship with that of the 'Lady of Shalott.' Tennysons's patrician artist in her tower, forced to choose between the world and its 'shadows' in her mirror, opts for the world and is destroyed; the peasant artist engages with the world and is sustained by an art that reflects that engagement. The modern story Stallworthy traces over the ghostly outline of the old points a parable about one function of art, what Seamus Heaney calls its power of 'redress', in this or any time.
The Guest from the Future is a selection of poetry by one of the Norton college department's most redoubtable editors, Professor Jon Stallworthy of Oxford University.
About the Author
Jon Stallworthy (M.A. and B.Litt. Oxford) is Senior Research Fellow at Wolfson College of Oxford University, where he is an Emeritus Professor of English Literature. He is also former John Wendell Anderson Professor at Cornell, where he taught after a career at Oxford University Press. His biography of Wilfred Owen won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the W. H. Smith Literary Award, and the E. M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His biography of Louis MacNeice won the Southern Arts Literary Prize. He is also the author of Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems and Singing School: The Making of a Poet, and editor of the definitive edition of Wilfred Owen’s poetry, The Complete Poems and Fragments; The Penguin Book of Love Poetry; The Oxford Book of War Poetry; and coeditor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Stallworthy has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature.
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