His face bore a striking resemblance to my father's: on the poet's internal critic

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Abstract

An analysis of what Mayakovsky, Auden, Jarrell and other modern poets have written about their editing practices reveals a tension between the modernist proclamation that ‘there are no rules’ (Mayakovsky) and the fact that poets nonetheless need to find some sort of critical standard by which to edit their own work. In the case of an extreme egomaniac like Mayakovsky, one might be tempted to equate that critical standard with the massive law of his own ego – were it not that some part of him clearly finds its productions at times wanting. But if so, where does that critical voice come from? Upon what does it base its judgements? The psychoanalytic theory of the super-ego is key to my argument, which poses a challenge not merely to New Criticism's ideas about objective judgement, but also to the Freudian, and now common-sense, equation between the artist's work and the freedom of unconscious utterance. It suggests that such freedom comes by way of the critical voice in one's own head
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-131
Number of pages18
JournalNew Writing
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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