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Proofs and Theories
Categories: 20th Century, American, Women
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (128 pages)
(Pub. Feb 1999)
Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2020
Louise Gluck's award-winning collection of essays is the work of a major poet and a distinguished teacher. She writes of her upbringing, her human and literary antecedents, and she dwells with a scrupulous eye on details of lives and poems, until she comes to understand them.
The act of integrity involved in the essays is part and parcel of this poet's unsparing candour. Her criticism takes risks and can be fierce passionate, merciless to its subjects, even (or especially) when the subject is herself. The consolations that such essays offer are those of clarity. She attends to T.S. Eliot, George 0ppen, Sylvia Plath, Robinson Jeffers, Wallace Stevens, John Berryman and others, appraising what is risked in the work of each writer, and what we risk and gain in reading them.
Awards won by Louise Glück Short-listed, 2014 Forward Prize for Best Collection (Faithful and Virtuous Night) Short-listed, 2014 T. S. Eliot Prize (Faithful and Virtuous Night) Winner, 1993 Pulitzer Prize (The Wild Iris)
Praise for Louise Glück 'Gluck's essays are delicate, tactful, self-aware and wry; her sense of humour is so understated that you might miss it if you think of her solely as a poet of tenacity and autumnal smokiness... Reading American Originality alongside her first essay collection, Proofs and Theories (1994), a portrait emerges of a wilful, embattled child who earned her stern serenity not only through loss but also through that miraculous state of grace that poetry can provide'
Ange Mlinko, Literary Review
'In this collection of sharply focussed and insightful essays one unifying theme emerges. Despite all the fads and fashions, the dead ends and new waves of poetry one thing survives, and that as she so vividly reminds us, is poetry'
Roger Bloor, The Alchemy Spoon
'Her writing's emotional and rhetorical intensity are beyond dispute. Not once in six books has she wavered from a formal seriousness, an unhurried sense of control and a starkness of expression that, like a scalpel, slices the mist dwelling between hope and pain.'
Washington Post 'Gluck stands at the centre of time and speaks, not with raw emotion or linguistic abandon, but with the ageless urgency of questions about the soul.'
Partisan Review 'Characteristically sure-footed, Glück speaks to our time in a voice that is onstage, but heard from the wings.'
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