On THE AMERICAN PROSE POEM
"Michel Delville's excellent new book on the emergence and evolution of the prose poem in America is in many ways a first and hence deserves to have a wide readership . . . Delville is the first scholar to survey the surprising range of contemporary American prose poems, from the "deep image" epiphanies of Robert Bly, to the parabolic fantasies of Russell Edson and Margaret Atwood, to the 'new sentence' works of the Language poets. By juxtaposing such unlikely poets as Charles Simic and Ron Silliman, Margaret Atwood and Diane Ward, Delville nicely undermines the us-versus-them rhetoric that continues, unfortunately, to haunt most critical discourse about contemporary poetry . . . His is a real achievement. He has produced a comprehensive history of the American prose poem that takes us from Joyce and Stein to the immediate present with great skill, finesse, and critical sophistication." —Marjorie Perloff
"This major, pioneering work is not likely to be superseded—only supplemented, as needed. Delville's skillful bibliography indicates a serious and industrious scholar who offers not an answer, but a rich resource."
"The topic is a protean one and Delville treats it with a mix of sweeping ambition and level-headed diffidence. . . His is a talent that enviably combines synthetic and analytic faculties and that proves to be fully at home not only in English and American prose and poetry but also in literary theory or French and German literature."
"[Delville's] prose rarely swerves from a clarity and readability that are surprising given the topic. He is equally poised in his thinking, offering both fair evaluations and cogent criticisms."
—Brett Foster, The Georgia Review
"This is one of the few works to address English language prose poetry. . . It displays an agreeable readiness to discuss writers who are too often ignored and it takes an equally agreeable, non-prescriptive approach to this significant form."
—Paul McDonald, American Studies in Europe
"Delville provides perhaps the best full discussion of the prose poem to date. He gives his readers a variety of useful definitions of the form as practiced from the nineteenth through the twentieth century."
"American prose poetry—a tradition extending from Robert Bly to Lyn Hejinian—has finally come into its own . . . Delville's The American Prose Poem will help to solidify the prose poem's position in popular consideration—or at least to assert its presence forcefully and memorably."
—Max Winter, The Boston Review
On FRANK ZAPPA, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF MAXIMALISM
"Here is a book that has to be played loud. Zapping as irreverently through the icons of dangerous culture as the zany Zappa himself, plotting the gothic with the abject cunning of Don Van Vliet, Michel Delville and Andrew Norris puncture quite a few balloons of our current aesthetic doxa, from body art to weak consensual clichés on post-mortem postmodernism. Here is baroque postmodernism returning to haunt us with a vengeance: it screams, it bites, it claws, it kicks."
"Amid the erudition and the exhaustive unpicking of the Zappa worldscape, the key to the value of this book is its understanding of the man's musical output—the records, the lyrics, the compositional approaches, the performance intentions. Delville and Norris exhibit an assured grasp of the creative line from the Mothers to Beefheart to Boulez and beyond. This book’s appeal lies in its richness of contexts—its ability to mention Braxton and Burroughs, Reich and Freud, Bakhtin and Houston A. Baker Jr, without ever moving too far from its object of scrutiny, a frustrating genius whose life of contradictions requires a study as unrelentingly unbound and as intellectually promiscuous as this one."
"This impressive, highly recommendable, sympathetic and unorthodox publication ... stands out as a linguistic tour de force, in a way presenting itself as a stream of consciousness - and thus the book itself corresponds very well with the whole notion of maximalism."
—Martin Knakkergaard, Popular Music
"One of the most remarkable things about Delville and Norris’ book (expert exegeses of their challenging subjects aside) is the critical apparatus they
assemble to contextualize the work of Zappa and Beefheart. Comprised of five chapters, each devoted to a salient motif in the iconoclasts’ considerable
oeuvre, Delville and Norris’ readings exemplify immanent critique, illustrating the same playful abandon and intellectual elasticity in their analyses as was demonstrated by the musicians themselves. A chapter on commodity fetishism situates particularly Zappa in terms of Freud, Debord and Bataille and in the midst of a complex musico-literary conversation between (among many others) Gertrude Stein, Haryette Mullen, Erik Satie, and Arnold Schoenberg. Another explores the concept of the abject with Beefheart’s avant-blues as meditation on birth-trauma, situated at the crossroads of Julia Kristeva, Peggy Phelan, Samuel Beckett, Rousseau, and naturally, Robert Johnson. I highly recommend their work to any fans or curious readers interested in an excellent academic analysis of two giants of 20th century avant-garde music."
—Seth Blake, Black Clock
"Delville's and Norris's book suggests that taking the maximalist avant-garde into account brings about a wide-ranging reconceptualization of contemporary art, from an historical, methodological, and aesthetic point of view ... This essay is faithful to the premises of maximalism in that its argument unihibitedly moves accross vast expanses of experimental art and cultural theory. In so doing, Delville and Norris trace out what, in another theoretical paradigm, would be called an intertextual network ... This dizzying intinerary among works of art, avant-garde manifestos, and theoretical treatises cannot properly be called intertextual because it is not meant to connect mere segments of language - mere fragments of conventional code. The very logic of maximalism requires that aesthetic practice and theory take heed not only of coded language but also of matter and the body, [which] confers to their essay the appearance of an inventive, whimsical treatise on a topic that might be called signifying anatomy."
--English Text Construction
On EATING THE AVANT-GARDE
"I cannot believe that I hadn't discovered this amazing, witty, brilliantly-perceived and written book until this very week! It's like the poetics of food poetry, like the food writing of poetry consumption, like nothing else in the taste of the avant-garde, really not! Everyone is here in these pages, and what a banquet..."
—Mary Ann Caws
"Food, Poetry, and the Aesthetics of Consumption: Eating the Avant-Garde constitutes a major contribution to the emerging field of food studies, as well as the more established fields of poetry and avant garde studies. Balancing the need for specificity with a wide-ranging intelligence and an international perspective, Delville examines the work of authors inspired by diverse aesthetic and political commitments. Food, Poetry, and the Aesthetics of Consumption: Eating the Avant-Garde offers an impressive, innovative reexamination of knowledge’s sensuous forms."
"Delville’s text engages with key philosophers from the Western tradition (Plato, Kant, Hegel) as well as the contemporary work of Korsmeyer (2005) to provide a rich analysis of the aesthetics and poetics of food in the Western avant-garde."
--Food Ethics: An Annotated Bibliography
"An exceptionally well-written and perfectly well-researched study on a topic that helps us to rediscover the profound unity of a wide range of avant-garde practices, authors, texts, paintings, and performances."
On CROSSROADS POETICS
"Crossroads Poetics is an impressive collection of essays that warrants slow, thoughtful engagement, not the least of which because it showcases the breadth as well as the depth of Delville's capacious intellect and wide-ranging curiosity. Of special interest is 'The Prose Poem at the Crossroads,' which updates as well as amplifies his seminal study on this important poetic form. And in this book we also see an extension of his idea of the 'loop' in the writing of Gertrude Stein as a way of thinking about repetition with a difference. In that piece, Delville crosses discourses—music and literature—to deploy metaphors that offer new perspectives on familiar texts. An essay on Frank Zappa essay may be the most surprising in the
collection, since Delville thinks through Zappa's innovative and challenging compositions as a way of understanding the avant garde in ways that stretch beyond just Zappa. This is a groundbreaking book by one of our most restless scholars."
—Richard Deming (Yale University)
"Il n'est pas interdit de voir dans ce livre à la fois la synthèse (ou du moins une certaine synthèse) et le manifeste (car le livre regarde résolument de l'avant) des travaux du CIPA, le Centre Interdisciplinaire de Poétique Appliquée de l'Université de Liège. Crossroads Poetics
reflète en effet la grande diversité, en termes d'objet mais aussi d'approches méthodologiques, et la vraie cohérence d'un groupe qui se propose de donner une nouvelle forme à la recherche interdisciplinaire en sciences humaines . . . Crossroads Poetics est la meilleure carte de visite que le CIPA puisse se rêver. Le livre émane non seulement d'un auteur engagé dans plusieurs disciplines (la poésie et, plus généralement, la littérature contemporaines, des premières avant-gardes à nos jours, mais aussi la musique moderne, dans ses multiples formes qui décloisonnent les secteurs de la musique dite sérieuse et des industries culturelles), mais aussi d'un auteur qui a lui-même une connaissance pratique des domaines qu'il interroge théoriquement (ce n'est donc pas un détail purement biographique que de rappeler que Michel Delville est aussi poète et musicien de jazz). S'il fallait choisir un terme pour résumer, chose impossible bien entendu, et sans doute peu désirable, les lectures de Crossroads Poetics, je retiendrais volontiers celui de 'liquide', tant pour désigner l'extrême fluidité du travail de Michel Delville et l'extrême aisance avec laquelle il passe d'un objet à l'autre sans jamais (faire) perdre pied, que pour afficher le parti pris ouvert, non essentialiste, d'une approche qui est moins une méthode qu'une attitude et qui se situe bien au-delà ce qu'on entendait jadis par études comparées."
—Jan Baetens, Image & Narrative
"Crossroads Poetics offers a rare introduction to artists resolutely geared towards capturing the associative transgressiveness characterizing contemporary signification—artistic or otherwise. Even those readers less interested in this book’s meta-poetic dimension could hardly fail to appreciate its author’s pioneering posture in introducing a vast catalogue of experimental creative practices. Too many to list here, and even too varied for an overview in this review, the multiple cases under scrutiny in Michel Delville’s monograph ultimately succeed in conveying the perception that contemporary culture is endemically liminal as well as fundamentally dynamic, which in turn turns our consciousness – i.e. the cognitive ‘device’ with which we process the impulses picked up from ‘remediated’ creations – into a “flexible medium” (136) in its own right. Itself at a crossroads between criticism and creative writing, Crossroads Poetics remediates its own impassionedly erudite analyses of analogously eclectic compositions while weaving these into a fabric at once allusive and elusive.
—Christophe Collard, English Text Construction
"In Crossroads Poetics, Michel Delville adopts such an at once retrospective and forward-looking vision so as to both define twenty-first poetics and throw into question the meaning of “poetics” itself. [...] Delville sheds light on the role and effect of society’s discursive practices on cultural production, as well as on our conception of aesthetics and aesthetic autonomy, while maintaining the rigor of traditional literary scholarship. Delville indicates the considerable heuristic potential of situating poetics in the great web of social discourse, which consists in opening closed, “high” art forms to many kinds of cultural production and their nonelite sources, thereby exposing their popular origins and giving access to formerly excluded groups. [...] Behind Delville’s analyses we recognize Benjamin’s idea that “theses about the developmental tendencies of art under present conditions of production” can become powerful weapons in ideological warfare—which for Benjamin of course meant the epic battle between Communism and Fascism. In a similar way to Benjamin’s use of such theses to combat traditional thinking about value, genius, and creativity—according to him, subsequently appropriated and distorted to aid the Fascist cause—Delville converts poetics into his principal munitions in the struggle for democracy, individual freedom, heterogeneity, and diversity. Poetics, from his standpoint, constitutes nothing less than the foundation of who we are, how we relate to each other, and the way in which we choose to organize ourselves in society. Delville’s erudition, and innovative integration of interdisciplinarity and generic crossing into his writing, as well as his original, albeit highly ideologically charged perspectives, make for a compelling read. Although the jury is still out on to what extent weapons of the sort identified by Benjamin and taken up by Delville are effective in battle, certainly Delville has made a strong case for the relationship between poetics and art works on the one hand, and ideology and politics on the other hand. Whatever the verdict we eventually pronounce, Crossroads Poetics makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of this relationship, and to scholarship in the fields of comparative poetics, Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies, and Comparative Literature."
—Renée Silverman, Comparative Literature Studies
On THE POLITICS AND AESTHETICS OF HUNGER AND DISGUST: PERSPECTIVES ON THE DARK GROTESQUE
"If the endgame of modernity plays out between the transformations of Judge Schreber, as symptomatised by Freud (1911), and John Heartfield’s Adolf the Superman Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk (1932), then Delville and Norris’s The Politics and Aesthetics of Hunger and Disgust notates the birth of a sur-modernist 'poetics of the obscene' whose epoch merely begins with Auschwitz, and whose Golden Age is still in process of dawning."
—Louis Armand, Director of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Charles University, Prague
"The Politics and Aesthetics of Hunger and Disgust is a hugely ambitious work of literary and cultural criticism. It will offer a major contribution to a burgeoning discipline and exert great influence on how these important issues are viewed and discussed."
—David M. Caplan, Ohio Wesleyan University
"Travelling from fairy tales to Shakespeare, Kafka or Hitchcock, while incorporating a postmodern perspective, the book is a necessary addition to the ever-expanding field of food studies, as it proves to be a compelling account of the darker dimension of the area; its ominous excursion into the grotesque generate disgust through abjection and expose the superficially hidden threats that loom in the underground of our self-proclaimed capitalistic paradise."
—Andrada Danilescu, Metacritic: Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory
On UNDOING ART
"If Undoing Art displays the whole range of erasure art–not in an encyclopedic way, but smartly using strategic examples to underline the manifold forms this way of working can embrace–, it challenges from the very beginning naïve and simplistic interpretations of “undoing”. The chosen format is not unlike that of the philosophical dialogue, although the intertwining of the two voices, one female, one male, does not resemble that of the platonic dialogue, where one finds a clear dissymmetry between the lead voice of Socrates and the searching and responsive voices of the pupils. What makes this book a strong blend of theory and philosophy is the open structure of the discussion. Rather than obeying a stimulus-reaction or question-answer template, Mary Ann Caws and Michel Delville build a kind of spiral, if not a kind of helix, each of their interventions –they are closer to the stanzas of a didactic prose poem than to the user-friendly packaging of an ongoing meditation– adding a new layer, a new perspective, a new medium, a new context, a new example, a new tradition, a new technique to the core definition of something that seems at the same time dramatically simply and dizzyingly diverse and complex. These self-chose restrictions–no encyclopedia, no single grand theory, no acknowledgment of artist’s intentions–as well as the strong focus on the close-reading of actual actions in some of the best that has been said, made or thought in the field, make Undoing Art a great read. ... Mary Ann Caws and Michel Delville make important proposals to open these debates and one can only hope that their elegantly written and attractively illustrated essay will find a large and active audience."
--Image & Narrative
"Fare arte è spesso un’operazione al negativo, simile al disfare, al dar luogo a una distruzione creativa. Si pensi ai tagli di Fontana o alle combustioni di Burri. Varie forme di questo paradosso sono discusse nel dialogo fra Mary Ann Caws & Michel Delville, Undoing Art; libro nel quale vengono attraversate opere, performance, teorie estetiche da Duchamp a Critchley, da Artaud a Reed – quest’ultimo significativamente autore dell’opera This is Not an Artwork. Secondo Caws e Delville sarebbe proprio l’opera quella maggiormente votata al non-fare o al disfare dell’undoing, mentre l’autore rimarrebbe indenne dagli effetti di tale processo negativo. Anzi, quest’ultimo costruirebbe la sua figura autoriale anche trattando se stesso come un’opera d`arte da disfare. Benché distruttivo della persona, secondo Caws & Delville, persino «il suicidio di ogni artista, Rothko incluso» contribuirebbe alla creazione. ... Leggendo cose come «l’ambivalente status della cancellazione come pratica poetica capitalizza l’urgenza del non fare distruttivo verso l’oggetto d’arte sotto attacco», fa riflettere sul fatto che oggi l’undoing non riguardi soltanto il mondo dell’arte, ma ogni fare e rapporto di lavoro."
—Marco Pacioni, Il Manifesto
On J.G. BALLARD
"Delville’s theoretical approach takes its lead from the novels, and so explores Ballard’s work in principally psychoanalytic and semiotic terms. Delville is adept at discussing in an accessible way Ballard’s repeated staging of the 'return of the repressed' despite the best societal controls and superegoic defenses; he explains clearly how those emerging repressed drives in the Freudian paradigm necessarily intertwine desire and death, Eros and Thanatos."
"This book surveys Ballard's literary career and explores its cultural contexts with perception and enthusiasm."
--Forum for Modern Language Studies
On THIRD BODY
"An exalted, extended, and often earthy meditation upon being, Third Body is an ambitious and brilliantly executed project to examine the state of contemporary being, and thereby the viability of its art."
"Michel Delville continues in the tradition of Belgian prose poetry exemplified by such prose poets as Henri Michaux, Géo Norge, and Eugène Savitzkaya. These writers honorably and admirably extend the francophone tradition of the prose poem as started in nineteenth century France by Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire. Delville utilizes the prose poem as a way to access profound poetic sentiments and provide trenchant social commentary through prosaic means. "To convert our ideas into material things:" this conversion requires an understanding not simply of the material conditions Delville wishes to elucidate but also the ways in which political shifts play out on an intimate human scale, and vice versa. Throughout Third Body, Delville's lush, fervent prose poems masterfully articulate his philosophical concerns, while demonstrating a profound pleasure in using this literary form to express them. He is our interpreter, our navigator, our scribe across the terrain he sets out, and we need him here to guide us. We need literature like Delville's to help us make sense of human events because, on its own, 'The eye doesn't see beyond sky.'"
"If you believe poetry has no boundaries, then you'll find stimulating this fusion of ideology mixed with social commentary and surrealism. Delville's prose poems are mind-bending, and no doubt meant to challenge the tradition of prose poetry but also social thought itself."
—Ellen Jane Powers
On RADIOHEAD, OK COMPUTER
"Michel Delville propose une passionnante grille de lecture de ce disque, titre par titre. 'J'estime que mettre en rapport J.G. Ballard, F.T. Marinetti, Roy Acuff, Can, Ralph Nader, Miles Davis, Hawkwind et Balzac dans ma lecture de 'Airbag' revient à créer de l'inédit', a déclaré Delville dans une interview. On ne peut que lui donner raison et se précipiter sur ce livre qui offre une analyse fouillée et pertinente."
—Raphaël Brun, Monaco Hebdo
"Ce livre se dévore avec délectation. On peut le relire à chaque fois qu'on écoute l'album."
—David Taugis, JFM
"L'universitaire et musicien Michel Delville décortique l'album mythique et quasi indémodable du groupe britannique. On ressort de la lecture des soixante-dix pages de ce livre conquis par un discours structuré et rigoureux, parfois un peu trop technique mais finalement assez abordable, qui donnera envie de réécouter un disque à côté duquel, il faut l'avouer, nous sommes parfois passés un peu vite."
—François Girodineau, Silence is Sexy
"Cette approche 'concrète' et 'formelle' forme le 'solfège de la musique non écrite' sur lequel chaque ouvrage de la série a vocation à se pencher. Cette exigence débouche sur un niveau de précision technique rarement atteint dans des écrits rock –l’assemblage des douze pédales d’effet de Jonny Greenwood est reproduit par l’auteur Michel Deville. La posture de l’auteur-musicologue est ici celle du biologiste moléculaire, penché sur son microscope pour arriver à faire résonner l’infiniment grand et l’infiniment petit."
—Cédric Rouquette, Slate
"La philosophie punk des textes et l'inventivité musicale des Radiohead offrent au rock moribond de la fin des années 90 plus qu'un répit, une maturité reconnue. Les universitaires vont bientôt s'emparer de ce matériau unique et le disséquer dans des cours magistraux, des séminaires et autres thèses... Michel Delville, professeur de littérature comparée à l'université de Liège, publie en 2015 aux éditions Densité un essai passionnant, Radiohead OK Computer, dans lequel il analyse avec pertinence chaque titre de l'album."
—David Moreno, Chroniques plurielles: arts et sciences
"Michel Delville remarque avec justesse, dans son analyse fouillée d’ « Airbag », premier morceau de l’album, que la thématique de l’accident sature l’horizon d’OK Computer. Comme si le règne des machines signifiait un danger permanent pour les humains qui les côtoient. Et il est tout à fait remarquable de renouer ici, comme le fait Michel Delville, avec la culture du machinique monstrueux qui permet de relier Marinetti à Ballard et Acuff à Green Day [...] L’ouvrage de Michel Delville rend compte des rhizomes culturels et politiques qui peuvent parcourir une œuvre. Les éclats de l’histoire de pop culture percent dans OK Computer sans altérer sa singularité et son originalité. C’est tout le mérite de ce petit livre (et plus généralement de cette belle collection) que d’approcher une œuvre dans sa totalité en cherchant tous ses points de rattachements, toutes les sédimentations qui s’y sont déposées, pour mieux offrir une analyse clinique et profonde d’une épaisseur musicale que rien n’épuise totalement."
—Jérôme Lamy, Volume! La revue des musiques populaires
"La musique est appréhendée dans toute son ampleur technique et esthétique. Le tout dans un contexte artistique et littéraire élargi, avec des notes et références précises. Bref, une invitation intelligente et passionnante à découvrir ou réentendre cette œuvre emblématique de la fin du siècle dernier."
—Alain Lambert, musicologie.org
On MARC ATKINS
"Just recently, a Belgian gallery Wittert, based in the city of Liège, opened a fresh exhibition of a leading British poet, as well as, surely, interdisciplinary artist Marc Atkins. The retrospect of the prolific creative career of this universal mind presents a spectacular array of his photography, drawings, sculpture, video art, as well as many of his pieces of poetry. All of that rich variety, 25 years of Atkins's work, comes to light shaped by a remarkable curatorial concept of Michel Delville. The leading Belgian poet and musician also greatly contributed to the project as a sole editor of the exhibition catalogue, a unique monograph in fact, featuring diverse perspectives of a select team of international scientific and artistic personalities on Atkins's works."
On THE MECHANICS OF THE MIRAGE
"What an irony that the most exciting collection of essays on Postwar American Poetry should come, not out of New York or San Francisco, but out of an (evidently) brilliant conference organized by Michel Delville and Christine Pagnoulle in Liège, Belgium! The Mechanics of the Mirage is remarkable for its range (from Peter Middleton's central reassessment of the early 70s to Steve Evans' prolegomenon for post-1989 poetry, from reconsiderations of Robert Lowell and Gary Snyder to first takes on Bruce Andrews and Lyn Hejinian), and the essays also display real theoretical sophistication. Then, too, Mechanics features new poetry by Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop, Paul Hoover and Maxine Chernoff, Kassia Fleisher and Joe Amato performing in collaboration, and Jennifer Moxley. Now that Mechanics is available in the U.S., every student of the contemporary poetry scene will want to have a copy."
"The works collected in The Mechanics of the Mirage . . . are evidence that good things can happen when smart people gather at academic conférences . . . The strength of this book is that it will not date as rapidly as most books published in the year 2000 concerning recent American poetry."
On IL GRANDE 'INCUBO CHE ME SON SCELTO': PROVE DI AVVICINAMENTO A PROFONDO ROSSO
"In questo libro, redatto in tre lingue in uno stile volutamente informale e conviviale, troviamo tutte le credenziali per esplorare a fondo questo thriller di forte impatto sonoro e visivo. I due curatori (Michel Delville e Luciano Curreri) ne raccontano i contesti, anticipando le annotazioni di Daniele Comberiati sull’influsso di questo film sulla letteratura horror italiana degli anni Novanta e sul fumetto horror italiano. Seguendo percorsi autobiografici e a tratti anche un po’ casuali, gli autori ricostruiscono la temperie politica degli anni Settanta, carica di suggestioni kitsch e di eccessi interpretati in maniera esemplare dal regista romano."
—Daniele Pomilio, Il Cinediario
"Ce volume, petit mais dense, soumet au regard croisé de douze critiques un des films cult les plus appréciés du célèbre cinéaste italien Dario Argento, pour fêter le quarantième anniversaire de sa sortie et évaluer l’influence qu’il a pu avoir sur la culture, au sens large, de notre époque. La 'sale douzaine' de spécialistes dont les écrits – intéressants et complémentaires – se retrouvent ici auront réussi avec élégance à atteindre leur but : montrer comment Profondo rosso a pu développer un vaste réseau de racines dans le sous-sol de la culture italienne (et pas exclusivement dans les chasses gardées du genre 'horror'), des rhizomes à la Deleuze susceptibles de laisser émerger à l’imprévu les pousses les plus surprenantes."
—Vittorio Frigerio, Belphégor: Littératures populaires et cultures médiatiques
"Questa raccolta trilingue, costituita unicamente da contributi inediti, ripercorre alcuni degli snodi fondamentali della riflessione critica e teorica sul film d’Argento … Un volume che si presenta al contempo come mappa del sentiero fin qui tracciato e veicolo di aperture e riscritture rispetto alla sua opera."
—Riccardo Fassone, L’Indice dei Libri del Mese
On LE DEGOUT: HISTOIRE, LANGAGE, ESTHETIQUE ET POLITIQUE D'UNE EMOTION PLURIELLE
"With this book, the editors offer a strong contribution to the now well-established field of disgust studies. Their conviction is that only through a plurality of methods and approaches can one constitue a better - yet not exhaustive - understanding of disgust, an understanding that is more than just an emotional and physical reaction, a mere survival reflex. The editors have decided in this volume to gather a collection of articles that favor a plural definition of a "borderline feeling" (émotion-limite), to use their terminology, which can only be found at the crossing between the biological, the metaphorical, and the political."
--Siavash Bakhtiar, The Senses and Society
On ANYTHING & EVERYTHING
"Anything & Everything (the original French was called Between the Pear and the Cheese, referring to the entr’acte at dinner between the two courses) presents us with a medley of riddling Steinian portraits of our favorite artists and writers. From Montaigne to Warhol, from Proust to Ponge, from Beckett to Bacon, from Satie to Steve Reich (an especially brilliant one!), Michel Delville, poet and expert on the prose poem, invents verbal fantasies that catch the exact nuance of the work in question. Sometimes narrative, sometimes lyric, these charming definition poems will delight and engage you—and above all, make you smile with the shock of recognition. This is a genuinely delightful book, full of surprises and new bonbons to whet one’s appetite!"
"I could hardly believe my eyes or ears. This translation of Michel Delville's brilliant prose poems, these, that is, into Anything and Everything, sounds like Michel Delville, which is about as high a compliment as compliments get. Having read lots of this author I know what I am speaking of. The quirky phrasing, the twists and turns and returns, the angular perception, it all comes out the way it went into the original, and when we say original here, we mean original. Good heavens, and congratulations to Quale Press right this instant, please, and let's have more."
—Mary Ann Caws
"One doesn't read across these pages but enters into them, becoming quicky excited by being inside the addictive texts. Each piece is a meal ticket, a short, disarming ride to a world of sharp aroma and tangential flavour. Works and ideas by familiar creatives are laid before us afresh, and overlaid and strengthened by astounding and original thought. Further, Delville has x-rayed the works and ideas and exposed their underpinning, their very nature. The complex rhythms he employs are extraordinary, recipes by way of rhythm, the intricacies of colours and humors and the complexity of their ordering (in all senses) and arrangement. In these texts we are delighted to find oil in our drink and grit in our food. These works are, often literally, mouthwatering. There are Poe like gothic visions, evoking scenarios of bounteous web covered food on tables set before great roaring fires. Or again Carrollian tea parties of strange and uncanny fare. The subtleties of your ideas are thrilling, mesmerising and deeply intriguing. You free words, allowing them to gel around each idea. Lines such as 'Wine flows under the table and slowly inches toward the door. The walls are pock-marked and light interferes with pores, causing discomfort arising from a disagreement between the duty of deception...'. 'His jacket pockets, worn with rain and sweat, recalls the womb in which the author said he felt so cramped, from which he claimed to scream from the depths of his intrauterine lungs.' Here we have such subtle slicing and layering, one does not only taste but absorbs the ineffable intricacies of your words and ideas."
"Anything & Everything offers a bountiful literary feast. These dazzling meditations on food and artistic culture are both playful and erudite.
They offer treat after treat, the overpowering pleasure in words made flesh."
"Delville is someone who exemplifies the meeting points between discipline, focus, creativity and experimentation and to this end knows the prose poem both intuitively and scientifically. As portraits, as inscape-focussed potted biographies, as meetings, visitations even, these prose poems work as fluidly within life as they do art and poetry. They are as satisfying as concentrated people-watching, condensed films, memorable paintings, micro-dramas and most fittingly to the original conceit of the collection, table conversations that occur between one perfect course and another. In these beautifully observed and executed texts we learn as much about these figures as we re-learn and recollect others we know personally. And inside this mix, we discern Delville himself; his music, his wit, his clarity and engagement with what these figures continue to teach us. Delville and others have referred to these prose poems as micro-essays, meditations, imaginary portraits, short, disarming rides, but they work equally on a far more personal level. Delville’s exceptional feel for composition helps the reader make sense of the uncanny mix of the alienation, confusion, devastation, grace and dignity of life explored throughout the collection. Simply put, an enlightening and essential read."
—Jane Monson, editor of This Line is Not for Turning: An Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry
"If the 'worst modern nightmare' is eating 'without appetite' (“Wyndham Lewis”), Michel Delville seeks to awaken us from that nightmare by inviting us to enjoy the pleasures of language, as the English idiom has it, 'with relish.' Moving deftly and fluently between the culinary idiomatic register figured in its original French title, Entre la poire et le fromage, and the dryly abstract register of that title’s English translation, Anything & Everything, the book’s thirty-six 'prose poems and microessays' revel in a riot of the senses that refuses to consider taste, smell, sight sound, touch as mere side dishes to the staple literary, aesthetic, philosophical pleasures of affect and concept. Instantiating Borges’ dictum that writers—and not only writers, but all artists—'create their precursors,' Delville sets the table for us to savor all the arts together with a Rabelaisian disdain for discrimination."
On LITERATURE NOW
"The ingeniously organised essays in Literature Now provide an up-to-the-moment examination of recent trends in literary theory. The volume covers a comprehensive range of topics, including digital humanities and eco-critical studies, as well as welcome assessments of revisionist developments in such fields as genre studies, book history and narratology. As such, the collection promises to provide a thorough mapping of the central concepts that arise in contemporary discussions of literary history."
—Philip Sicker, Fordham University
"A major introduction to the field of literary criticism and cultural criticism in general."
—Pedro Moura, Estrema: Interdisciplinary Review for the Humanities
"The editors of Literature Now have published an impressive collection of essays that casts a wide look at a myriad of current debates and approaches to literary studies."
--Molly Dooley Appel, Comparative Literature Studies
"There is more than meets the eye to this exceptionally wide-ranging and up-to-date volume. The entries in the table of contents hide a wealth of terms and discussions that show the connections between concepts, as well as their historical evolution. Indeed, we may join in the creative practice of employing critical terms by describing the book as an actor-network that traces the trajectory of selected key terms through space and time; the terms acquire new meanings and associate with other ‘actors’ (critical terms and discussions) along the way. Such a description is more than mere play, as Literature Now convincingly illustrates the agency of key concepts in a variety of contexts."
—Birgit van Puymbroeck, Image & Narrative