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The Language of Inquiry

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The Language of Inquiry Cover

 

Staff Pick

Lyn Hejinian is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary American poetry. Living and writing in the Bay Area for most of her life, she is a professor, translator, poet, etc. Recently she has worked with musician John Zorn on a cross-media project, and her books My Life and Writing Is an Aid to Memory have helped place her in the pantheon of the avant-garde working in the U.S. The Language of Inquiry is a collection of Hejinian's essays and what might otherwise also be called miscellany (aphorisms, interviews, etc.) if not for Hejinian's brilliant way of exploring poetry and poetics. Included are reflections on community, women, writing, translating, and language. Hejinian's language works — it challenges and engages. This collection of writings, spanning from the mid-seventies to the nineties, is both inspirational and instructive. If at times Hejinian's work has weathered the charge of being less accessible than other more mainstream poetry/poets, these texts may help interested readers gain a better grasp on her intentions and possible directions that readers and writers can pursue.
Recommended by K.P., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Lyn Hejinian is among the most prominent of contemporary American poets. Her autobiographical poem My Life, a best-selling book of innovative American poetry, has garnered accolades and fans inside and outside academia. The Language of Inquiry is a comprehensive and wonderfully readable collection of her essays, and its publication promises to be an important event for American literary culture. Here, Hejinian brings together twenty essays written over a span of almost twenty-five years. Like many of the Language Poets with whom she has been associated since the mid-1970s, Hejinian turns to language as a social space, a site of both philosophical inquiry and political address.

Central to these essays are the themes of time and knowledge, consciousness and perception. Hejinian's interests cover a range of texts and figures. Prominent among them are Sir Francis Bacon and Enlightenment-era explorers; Faust and Sheherazade; Viktor Shklovsky and Russian formalism; William James, Hannah Arendt, and Martin Heidegger. But perhaps the most important literary presence in the essays is Gertrude Stein; the volume includes Hejinian's influential "Two Stein Talks," as well as two more recent essays on Stein's writings.

Review:

"Hejinian's essays are a keystone of postwar North American poetics. They are also a great pleasure to read, for Hejinian is an extraordinarily resonant stylist whose work combines the lushness of her poetry with an engaging aesthetic and philosophical inventiveness. This is writing that avoids closure in the pursuit of unfolding, multifaceted, restive thought. The Language of Inquiry's meditations on the possibilities of poetry create an experience in which each reader is at the center. To engage with this work is to be put in touch with oneself as if anew." Charles Bernstein, author of My Way: Speeches and Poems

Review:

"From 1975, when she wrote 'A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking' — the first 'essay' in this collection — Lyn Hejinian has always regarded poetry and poetics as intimately interwoven: her poetry has sometimes been highly theoretical even as her theoretical and critical peices are nothing if not poetic. The Language of Inquiry, the first collection of Hejinian's essays, lectures, introductions, and meditations, constitutes, in the words of Gertrude Stein, about whom she has written so brilliantly, Hejinian's own 'composition as explanation,' culminating in her new long Steinian poem, aptly called 'Happily.' This is an exciting and deeply moving book." Marjorie Perloff, author of Wittgenstein's Ladder

Review:

"'Intelligence is romantic.' These essays, prefaces, lectures, aphorisms, portraits, and meditations, by one of America's most innovative poets, passionately explore, as did the critical writings of Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens, the philosophical foundations of contemporary American culture....The Language of Inquiry brilliantly demonstrates the myriad, paradoxical ways in which philosophy and poetry are indivisible and distinct." Susan Howe

Synopsis:

The Language of Inquiry is a comprehensive and wonderfully readable collection of essays by Lyn Hejinian, and its publication promises to be an important event for American literary culture.

Synopsis:

A lucid, extended meditation on matters of poetry, language, and consciousness by an important American poet. Hejinian, like Susan Howe and Charles Bernstein among Language Poets (Jorie Graham and John Ashbery more generally), is a major figure. Her book My Life is already an American classic (Sun & Moon Press) and has sold 11,000 copies since 1987.

Synopsis:

"Hejinian's essays are a keystone of postwar North American poetics. They are also a great pleasure to read, for Hejinian is an extraordinarily resonant stylist whose work combines the lushness of her poetry with an engaging aesthetic and philosophical inventiveness. This is writing that avoids closure in the pursuit of unfolding, multifaceted, restive thought. The Language of Inquiry's meditations on the possibilities of poetry create an experience in which each reader is at the center. To engage with this work is to be put in touch with oneself as if anew."—Charles Bernstein, author of My Way: Speeches and Poems

"From 1975, when she wrote 'A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking' — the first 'essay' in this collection — Lyn Hejinian has always regarded poetry and poetics as intimately interwoven: her poetry has sometimes been highly theoretical even as her theoretical and critical peices are nothing if not poetic. The Language of Inquiry, the first collection of Hejinian's essays, lectures, introductions, and meditations, constitutes, in the words of Gertrude Stein, about whom she has written so brilliantly, Hejinian's own 'composition as explanation,' culminating in her new long Steinian poem, aptly called 'Happily.' This is an exciting and deeply moving book."—Marjorie Perloff, author of Wittgenstein's Ladder

"'Intelligence is romantic.' These essays, prefaces, lectures, aphorisms, portraits, and meditations, by one of America's most innovative poets, passionately explore, as did the critical writings of Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens, the philosophical foundations of contemporary American culture. [For Hejinian, the process of 'theorizing is . . . a manner of vulnerable, inquisitive, worldly living . . . very closely bound to the poetic process.'] The Language of Inquiry brilliantly demonstrates the myriad, paradoxical ways in which philosophy and poetry are indivisible and distinct." —Susan Howe

About the Author

Lyn Hejinian is a poet and the author of Writing is an Aid to Memory (1996), The Cold of Poetry (1994), The Cell (1992), and My Life (1987), among other books. She has taught at several universities and colleges and was the 1993 Roberta Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry at the University of California, Berkeley.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780520217003
Author:
Hejinian, Lyn
Publisher:
University of California Press
Location:
Berkeley
Subject:
Poetry
Subject:
Poetics
Subject:
Hejinian, Lyn
Subject:
Aesthetics
Subject:
Hejinian, Lyn - Aesthetics
Subject:
General Poetry
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
November 2000
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
3 b/w photographs
Pages:
447
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 1.13 in 18 oz

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The Language of Inquiry New Trade Paper
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Product details 447 pages University of California Press - English 9780520217003 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Lyn Hejinian is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary American poetry. Living and writing in the Bay Area for most of her life, she is a professor, translator, poet, etc. Recently she has worked with musician John Zorn on a cross-media project, and her books My Life and Writing Is an Aid to Memory have helped place her in the pantheon of the avant-garde working in the U.S. The Language of Inquiry is a collection of Hejinian's essays and what might otherwise also be called miscellany (aphorisms, interviews, etc.) if not for Hejinian's brilliant way of exploring poetry and poetics. Included are reflections on community, women, writing, translating, and language. Hejinian's language works — it challenges and engages. This collection of writings, spanning from the mid-seventies to the nineties, is both inspirational and instructive. If at times Hejinian's work has weathered the charge of being less accessible than other more mainstream poetry/poets, these texts may help interested readers gain a better grasp on her intentions and possible directions that readers and writers can pursue.

"Review" by , "Hejinian's essays are a keystone of postwar North American poetics. They are also a great pleasure to read, for Hejinian is an extraordinarily resonant stylist whose work combines the lushness of her poetry with an engaging aesthetic and philosophical inventiveness. This is writing that avoids closure in the pursuit of unfolding, multifaceted, restive thought. The Language of Inquiry's meditations on the possibilities of poetry create an experience in which each reader is at the center. To engage with this work is to be put in touch with oneself as if anew."
"Review" by , "From 1975, when she wrote 'A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking' — the first 'essay' in this collection — Lyn Hejinian has always regarded poetry and poetics as intimately interwoven: her poetry has sometimes been highly theoretical even as her theoretical and critical peices are nothing if not poetic. The Language of Inquiry, the first collection of Hejinian's essays, lectures, introductions, and meditations, constitutes, in the words of Gertrude Stein, about whom she has written so brilliantly, Hejinian's own 'composition as explanation,' culminating in her new long Steinian poem, aptly called 'Happily.' This is an exciting and deeply moving book."
"Review" by , "'Intelligence is romantic.' These essays, prefaces, lectures, aphorisms, portraits, and meditations, by one of America's most innovative poets, passionately explore, as did the critical writings of Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens, the philosophical foundations of contemporary American culture....The Language of Inquiry brilliantly demonstrates the myriad, paradoxical ways in which philosophy and poetry are indivisible and distinct."
"Synopsis" by , The Language of Inquiry is a comprehensive and wonderfully readable collection of essays by Lyn Hejinian, and its publication promises to be an important event for American literary culture.
"Synopsis" by , A lucid, extended meditation on matters of poetry, language, and consciousness by an important American poet. Hejinian, like Susan Howe and Charles Bernstein among Language Poets (Jorie Graham and John Ashbery more generally), is a major figure. Her book My Life is already an American classic (Sun & Moon Press) and has sold 11,000 copies since 1987.
"Synopsis" by ,
"Hejinian's essays are a keystone of postwar North American poetics. They are also a great pleasure to read, for Hejinian is an extraordinarily resonant stylist whose work combines the lushness of her poetry with an engaging aesthetic and philosophical inventiveness. This is writing that avoids closure in the pursuit of unfolding, multifaceted, restive thought. The Language of Inquiry's meditations on the possibilities of poetry create an experience in which each reader is at the center. To engage with this work is to be put in touch with oneself as if anew."—Charles Bernstein, author of My Way: Speeches and Poems

"From 1975, when she wrote 'A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking' — the first 'essay' in this collection — Lyn Hejinian has always regarded poetry and poetics as intimately interwoven: her poetry has sometimes been highly theoretical even as her theoretical and critical peices are nothing if not poetic. The Language of Inquiry, the first collection of Hejinian's essays, lectures, introductions, and meditations, constitutes, in the words of Gertrude Stein, about whom she has written so brilliantly, Hejinian's own 'composition as explanation,' culminating in her new long Steinian poem, aptly called 'Happily.' This is an exciting and deeply moving book."—Marjorie Perloff, author of Wittgenstein's Ladder

"'Intelligence is romantic.' These essays, prefaces, lectures, aphorisms, portraits, and meditations, by one of America's most innovative poets, passionately explore, as did the critical writings of Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens, the philosophical foundations of contemporary American culture. [For Hejinian, the process of 'theorizing is . . . a manner of vulnerable, inquisitive, worldly living . . . very closely bound to the poetic process.'] The Language of Inquiry brilliantly demonstrates the myriad, paradoxical ways in which philosophy and poetry are indivisible and distinct." —Susan Howe

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