After many years, the French are finally adressing Duncan’s work! There had been one smallish “Selected” published by Christian Bourgois in the 80s — a very silly & misleading selection that couldn’t & didn’t work. In fact, when a couple years later Bourgois decided to quit publishing any poetry —American or other — he would always use the Duncan book as exemplar & say: “The Duncan sold all of 82 or 83 copies! How do you want me to go on publishing poetry? I’d go bankrupt.” Now, maybe we can expect a big solid Duncan Selected from someone? (Now that Olson’s Maximus has been out for two years in an excellent edition — though that already seems to be out of stock or at least that is what French amazon says).
Here is how the editors present Oudard’s book (my quick translation):
“What relations does post-war Ameriucan poetry entertain with that of the first Modernism. How to write among the ruins of the great projects of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and Williams Carlos Williams ?
Starting from a critique of the rhetoric of rupture, this boook explores the history and functioning of modern American poetry through the angle of the relation. Its trajectoire marks a sinueux line that links H.D. (1886-1961) to Robert Duncan (1919-1988). Far from imagining them as the limit-works of a new canon, this study has as focal point Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book, that vast (auto)biographical working space soon to be published [The book has come out meanwhile, from University of California Press]. Utopian and multiple, the relation permits to read modernism in a new way, where an individual conception of invention gives way to an ethics of writing. Based on the published and unpublished poetic and epistolary exchanges, the adventure meets up with Eliot, Pound, Williams, Levertov and Olson, but also Mallarmé, Bergson, James, Deleuze, Meschonnic and Glissant.”