Эссе: Alden Nowlan


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Английский язык
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Эссе
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... Because he prides himself on writing of what he knows the threat of piecemeal living seems never distant from his regional world&. Nowlan chronicles himself and others via a milieu where the pain of his own experience contributes to much of his work&. (p. 42) By and large & Nowlan, like the preacher in "The Young Rector"--fascinated with indigenous spirituality--cannot help but witness that the abject people he intuitively loves "are dead / all they need is someone / to throw dirt over them. / Passionless, stinking, dead." For this writer & both Eden and Tantramar are gone; only his struggle against asceticism and the nitty-gritty remains&. (p. 44) While reviews of his early work praised Nowlan for the accuracy of his images, they also admonished him for flatness and failure to experiment much with form. A tendency not to whack home more forcefully a poem's potential also came under fire; what his poems of the early sixties needed more of was the expansive yet integral conclusions of his later ones, which exhibit an adroit control. In Under the Ice (1961) &, one discovers him finding his range, adjusting his sights, but shooting erratically nonetheless; even some previous poems are decidedly better than the ones which now describe his middle period. "The Egotist" from The Rose and the Puritan (1958), for example, explores a favourite theme of violence with more sophistication than the later "Bear". The earlier poem clinches its simple but electric statement superbly&. "Bear", on the other hand, lacks as much voltage because its conclusion is bathetic&. (pp. 44-5) In Under the Ice Nowlan reveals limitations, not because a number of titles read like a rural Who's Who ("Jack Stringer", "Charlie", "Georgie and Fenwick", or "The Flynch Cows"), but because the poems themselves often forfeit neat contours of structure and perception (a notable exception is "Warren Pryor"). Verse like "Georgie and Fenwick", for instance, assembles tattle that makes better fiction. Nowlan realizes his use of local folk in the short story "The Execution of Clemmie Lake' much more effectively&. And in Bread, Wine and Salt (1967) his use of gossip proves more consequential. "Small Town Small Talk", by its title, foreshadows a measure of irony which articulates in a few lines the isolation of two people, so the dreary procession of busybody verse as in Under the Ice vanishes&. With Bread, Wine and Salt Nowlan commands a hearing with such poems as "Sailors", "O", "Footsteps in the Dark", and "The Fresh-Ploughed Hill" where, instead of petering out, his images accelerate sufficiently to spurt past the banal and overtake the significant. (pp. 45-6) In the preface to The Things Which Are (1962) Nowlan reminds himself to "Write the things which thou hast seen and the things which are" (The Revelation of St. John the Divine). Consequently one perceives in a good deal of his writing the importance he attaches to a theme like coming of age&. Coming of age crops up in short stories like "Hurt", "A Sick Call", "In the Finland Woods" (all from Miracle at Indian River, 1968), and reappears trenchantly in the later poem, "The Wickedness of Peter Shannon."& (pp. 46-7) The inside-outside motif & [also] carries through Nowlan's poetry of the past decade, and receives an obvious statement in his first volume & with such poems as "Sparrow Come in My Window", where the outside which invites escape remains cut off by a window that isolates the narrator and the bird he wishes to share his loneliness within. ...