James’s “Beast in the Jungle” and Sedgwick’s “Beast in the Closet”

I’m including two pieces in our reading for July 5th. One is Henry James’s classic novella The Beast in the Jungle. It’s characteristic of his later style and showing off much more modernist experimentation with image and syntax than you may have seen in his earlier work. It was published in 1903, just before his novels The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). I’ll refer you to the wikipedia page on James for a more detailed breakdown of how James’s career and style progressed (I’m not a James expert, honestly, and he had a LONG career).

I’ve pared it with Eve Sedgwick’s (also classic) essay “The Beast in the Closet: James and the Writing of Homosexual Panic,” which was published in Sedgwick’s The Epistemology of the Closet (1990). The book as a whole is essential reading for a crash course in queer literary criticism, and this essay offers a particularly useful and portable way into queering up James (already pretty damn queer.

Posted by Andrew in the persona of Liz

Hemingway stories

Ernest Hemingway’s (1899-1961) The First Forty-Nine Stories were originally anthologized in 1938 with his critically declaimed play, The Fifth Column. The First Forty-Nine surpass, in my opinion, any of his longer fiction, with the possible exception of The Sun Also Rises (1926), his second novel. Hemingway’s memoiresque A Moveable Feast (1964) as something not quite fictional if perhaps not quite a memoir either [and, furthermore, MF is composed of vignettes]). The First Forty-Nine consists of the shorter collections In Our Time (1925), Men Without Women (1927), and Winner Take Nothing (1933), plus four additional stories.

An ambulance driver in World War I, the Chicago-born Hemingway returned to Europe as an expatriot journalist in Paris during the 1920s. There he frequented the salons of his friends Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. MF details much of his biography while he was still writing stories and recalls his friendship and interactions with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford, Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso, and other modernist scenesters. Sylvia Beach of the bookstore/publisher Shakespeare and Company often lent Hemingway books; he was a great fan of Constance Garnett’s Russian translations. Other influences include Paul Cezanne, whose Impressionist brushstrokes Hemingway tried to emulate in words, and John Donne, from whose poetry Hemingway often borrowed lines as titles.

For our purposes in comps studying, I’m choosing a story for each of The First Forty-Nine‘s component volumes: “Indian Camp” (first published in 1924 in Ford’s transatlantic review) from In Our Time, “Che Ti Dice La Patria?” from Men Without Women, and “Fathers and Sons” from Winner Take Nothing. Many of Hemingway’s stories refer to a somewhat autobiographical protagonist, Nick Adams; these three stories can all be considered among the Nick Adams stories. Though only the first and third designate their protagonist as Nick, the second does not outrule this possibility (unlike the others, “Che Ti” is written in the first-person, so there is less opportunity for the writer to refer to his protagonist by name).

Poetry Section: Practice test I-B

Here is the practice poetry exam. We’ve tried to give the same kind of smattering covered in the example we’ve been using, but to swap out a few things. Either way, it should be a useful exercise, we hope. So, here’s the process we discussed:

1. Set yourself 90 minutes and look at the poems only when you’re actually about to start. Since we’ll be typing at computers at the exam, you should probably type your practice exam.

2. When you finish your practice exam before we meet Tuesday July 5th at 4:30pm, post it to the blog in the text of a post. Remember to set your post to “Private” by clicking “edit” on the top right where it says “visibility.” I know that’s unclear. Search and you’ll find it.

Don’t worry about reading other people’s essays before the meeting. The idea is that we will run a small workshop during our meeting time, and we’ll have each other’s essays available to read AFTER the meeting as we choose. Enjoy the test!

Poetry test

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