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Souls of the Labadie Tract (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – November 17, 2007

3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Over the past three decades Howe has worked as a kind of poet-scholar manqué, mixing into her books prose explorations of early American spiritual and historical chroniclers and her own distinctive poems, usually terse, four-stress snippets that themselves seem like fugitive fragments from a larger suppressed text. In her newest book, Howe stands in thrall to a 17th-century history of Deerfield, Mass., and then chases down an obscure reference to Labadist in Wallace Stevens's family tree, which brings her to the story of a short-lived Utopian quietest sect, followers of Jean de Labadie who established a community in Maryland in 1684 that vanished within 40 years. It is in these vast tracts of time made intimate by texts, by language, that Howe operates: I keep you here to keep/ your promise all that you/ think I've wrought what// I see or do in the twilight/ of time but keep forgetting/ you keep coming back. Beginning with a quote from Jonathan Edwards equating the silkworm to a type of Christ and ending with a photograph of a fragment of the silk wedding dress of Edwards's wife, onto which Howe projects a text (I have already shown that space is God), this is intense stuff. Published simultaneously with a new edition (prefaced by Eliot Weinberger) of Howe's classic critical work My Emily Dickinson. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Howe's mode is gnostic interior monologue, in which the lyric voice is fractured- embodied and performed across time. (Artforum, Bennett Simpson)

Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (November 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811217183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811217187
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Archival excerpts from early Colonial history populate this space, energize it to starry heights. Susan notes "I believed in an American aesthetic of uncertaintly that could represent beauty in syllables so scarce and rushed they would appear to expand though they lay half-smothered in local history." We, the recipients of the unearthing, appreciate her brilliance. Those who recall Singularities will find refuge in the verses of 118 Westerly Terrace, such as "
Low in self abasement light
passes through linen as if
to offer heaven as if roof
will have no hold against
one hour shred of another
Emily Dickinson walks these pages also, as in "
For a long time I worked
this tallest racketty poem
by light of a single candle
The last page of this book fades with a trace of some mysterious writing, but does not bestow darkness.
She speaks of "concrete totality of singular interjections, crucified spellings, abbreviations, irrational apprehensions"..."details to oratorically bloom" and so they do, in this fine work.
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I feel bad for this author. I have never read such a horrible book in all my life. If this is poetry, I'm my ears are either deaf to it or it is a bunch of non-related words strung together in an attempt to make them appear to be coherent. I've been doing genealogy research because my great, great, great, great grand mother was the wife of Petrus Sluyter, the head of the Labadist colony. I was hoping that it would shed some insight into the people and their lives on a more personal level.

This poor woman has attempted to "channel" their thoughts and has failed miserably to do so. The Labadists were not spiritualists as she proclaims. They were hard working farmers who wanted to live a holy life. They attempted and failed to live a communal life. Much of the failure of the Labadist colony lies on the shoulders of my GGGG grandmother's second husband, Petrus Sluyter. He found business more interesting than spiritual matters and found the new opportunities in the new world too hard to pass up. I'm sure he was a conflicted man. He had slaves, was a tyrant and didn't live the life he asked others to lead

This book was badly produced too. Many of the pages in the last part of the book, the words are not legible. The paper must have twisted in the printer and it looks like they photocopied shredded pages anyway and stuck them in the book.

I would offer to sell mine but I'd hate to dupe someone into paying for this book. It is going to my recycle bin. Save your money, it is a total waste of money.
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