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Reading Cy Twombly


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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements ix Introduction: Twombly's Books 1 1 Mediterranean Passages: Retrospect 24 2 Psychogram and Parnassus: How (Not) to Read a Twombly 51 3 Twombly's Vagueness: The Poetics of Abstraction 78 4 Achilles' Horses, Twombly's War 103 5 Romantic Twombly 133 6 The Pastoral Stain 160 7 Psyche: The Double Door 186 8 Twombly's Lapse 210 Postscript: Writing in Light 234 Notes 243 Bibliography 285 Index 299

About the Author

Mary Jacobus is professor emerita of English at the University of Cambridge and Cornell University, and an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. She has written widely on visual art, Romanticism, feminism, and psychoanalysis. Her recent books include The Poetics of Psychoanalysis and Romantic Things. She lives in Ithaca, New York, and Cambridge, UK.


One of The Times Literary Supplement's Books of the Year 2016, chosen by Andrew Motion "A gripping and revelatory study."--Andrew Motion, Times Literary Supplement "Jacobus ... assesses with great acumen what Twombly's aims were, and shows brilliantly how he combines the various poetic motifs in his painting."--Marjorie Perloff, Times Literary Supplement "Mary Jacobus ... carries us on a marvellous voyage through the artist's mind and beyond."--Marina Warner, Observer "Through unprecedented access to his notebooks and annotated sources--a vast pool encompassing everything from Homer to Pound--Jacobus elegantly illuminates the complex relationship between word and image in an oeuvre that teems with potentiality and impropriety."--Lucy Watson, Financial Times "Jacobus' careful reading and broad learning, her understanding of Twombly's art and the poetry he included in it, and her synthetic discussion of literature and art in various periods and genres--her chapter on pastoral is especially breathtaking--all make this a complex, stunningly memorable book."--Elizabeth Greene, Times Higher Education "A highly original study."--Apollo Magazine "A fine example of literary scholarship inspired by art."--Michael Bird, The Telegraph "[A] fresh and intricate study of Twombly's citations and overall engagement with verse... [Jacobus] profitably confronts Twombly's work as a literary critic ... enriching the work with themes of memory, time, concealment, sexuality, translation, and what she describes at one point as, 'the inexhaustible relation of image and text--distinct, yet propped on one another.'"--James Miller, Hyperallergic "[D]azzles both visually and intellectually... A fascinating exercise in elucidation."--Bill Marx, Arts Fuse "In this erudite book, Jacobus focuses on the poetic and literary allusions and the depth of thinking that went into Twombly's work... The book includes excellent color reproductions, though they are small so do not communicate the impact of Twombly's huge paintings. Jacobus's book will be valuable for those interested in the literary sources for Twombly's art."--Choice "In the book, erudite and descriptive passages show how poetry became central to Twombly. Jacobus illuminates the import of one medium on another, going beyond drawing an affinity between art and poetry to reveal Twombly as an artist engaged in deep study who sought not just correspondences between the mediums, but unity."--Michael Abatemarco, Santa Fe New Mexican

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