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Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews Hardcover – August 5, 1997


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Putting Modernism Together by Daniel Albright
Putting Modernism Together by Daniel Albright
In Putting Modernism Together, the author argues human culture can best be understood as a growth-pattern or ramifying of artistic, intellectual, and political action. Going beyond merely explaining how the artists in these genres achieved their peculiar effects, he presents challenging new analyses of telling craft details which help students and scholars come to know more fully this bold age of aesthetic extremism. Learn more | See similar books

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In his early essay "After Joyce" (1964), the first title in this nonfiction omnibus, Barthelme, America's preeminent postmodern practitioner, made a strong argument for the literary work "as an object in the world rather than a commentary upon the world." The writer, "betrayed by outmoded forms," may find in play "one of the great possibilities of art." A whole generation of writers obliged, among them Gass, Elkin, Hawkes, Coover, Gaddis, and Pynchon. In one of his last essays, "Not-Knowing" (published not long before his death in 1989, at age 58), Barthelme, having shaken off that "rhetoric of the time," admits that much of contemporary criticism robs the work of its mystery, which indeed "exists." These two essays, offered back to back, buoy this collection, which includes later interviews that demonstrate for writing students his methods, influences, etc. Much of Barthelme's New Yorker commentary (on art, politics, living in Greenwich Village) seems dated now. Important for literature collections and writing programs.?Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

"Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art," wrote Barthelme in the title essay of this collection. That essay, a meditation on art as a necessary process of "not knowing," could be called a full-fledged aesthetic, a major statement, or perhaps even a synopsis of Barthelme's writing process and hopes for his art. But one could just as easily say that it is simply Barthelme playfully pondering and calling into question how we see the world. By exploring and incorporating the details of daily life and news, Barthelme produced innovative essays, hilarious commentaries on society, and astute reviews of art, literature, and film. Not-Knowing is a posthumous gift, and Kim Herzinger, who studied and carefully flushed out these writings from many sources, has given the reader a chance to "hear" Barthelme through interview and discussion-panel form. While this collection provides an opportunity to read Barthelme's previously unpublished work, it also encourages new generations of writers and readers to encounter Barthelme's wit, originality, sensitivity, and skill for the first time. His diversity of subject matter and oddities of expression and the marvelous spin he put on ordinary life all add to the overall impression that Barthelme's death left a wide gap in our contemporary writing, one that is not likely to be filled anytime soon. Janet St. John
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First edition (August 5, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679409831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679409830
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Paul Sas on February 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I bought the first edition, but it took ten years to dive in. The two opening essays, After Joyce, and then 20 years later, Not-Knowing, flash DB's searching and intense intelligence. They also reveal the shift in his understanding of fiction, from a very Beckettian take that each story or novel exists as an object in the world, to the later, more experienced sense that a fundamental aspect of the writer is the practice of exploring the world of sentences about characters, without knowing what will come next. The essays are mostly minor: advertising reviews from the early 1960s (more significant when one realizes that his wife at the time, Helen Moore Barthelme, was in advertising), thoughtful pamphlets about specific art shows in the 1980s, and the pieces that were once published in the New Yorker as Talk of the Town. The interviews at the end are extremely rewarding, esp the very long KPFA trialog, where DB shows his sparkling humor, as well as revealing at moments a glint from the steely anger that underlies his sharp discriminating sensibilities.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Batten on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
GReat collection of odds and ends for the committed fan looking into some insight into a great artist. Not just any great artist, though, specifically Barthelme. Don't get confused and think this book will teach you anything about Picasso.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Earnest on July 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
It makes Donald Barthelme less of a god and more human seeming. I don't like that.
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