By Bernard Malamud, Thomas Mallon
With a brand new advent through Thomas Mallon
Dubin's Lives is a compassionate and wry commedia, a publication praised by way of Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in The manhattan Times as Malamud's "best novel due to the fact that The Assistant. potentially, it's the most sensible he has written of all."
Its protagonist is considered one of Malamud's most interesting characters; prize-winning biographer William Dubin, who learns from lives, or thinks he does: these he writes, these he stocks, the existence he lives. Now in his later heart age, he seeks his personal mystery self, and the obsession of biography is supplanted through the obsession of love—love for a girl part is age, who has sought an knowing of her existence via his books. Dubin's Lives is a wealthy, sophisticated publication, in addition to a relocating story of affection and marriage.
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Extra resources for Dubin's Lives
A common early misperception about the New York School was that they were, as Ihab Hassan wrote in his guide to Contemporary American Literature, “anti-formalist[s] in a sense, inventors of new open styles” (124). Other guidebooks describe their “open, chaotic, and informal aesthetic” (“New York Poets” 209) and stress that “Free verse predominates their work” (“New York School” 176). What this emphasis on “anti-formalism” misses is that fact that Ashbery, O’Hara, Schuyler, and Guest regularly wrote sonnets, sestinas, and pantoums, and that Koch’s first major work, the epic poem Ko, or a Season on Earth (1959), was written in strict ottava rima (modeled on Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso).
It is not that these texts don’t look like “the world” (which can be conceived as infinitely complex in its possible permutations of stimuli) but that they don’t look like the world as mimetically represented in realist or organic texts. This divergence is naturally problematic for readers who expect texts to yield stable, unified meanings, and can certainly help explain some of the very negative early criticism the New York School received. As David Perkins notes in his History of Modern Poetry, New York School poetry was frequently written off as trivial, nonsensical, and “frivolously nihilistic” (528).
He is precious and puerile when he is not merely futile and noisy, seldom if ever writing two consecutive lines that can . . be called even lazy verse, as Max Eastman describes that phenomenon. ” cries one review of Schuyler’s Freely Espousing. “I suggest you pass this book up; there are, surely, enough collections of poetry which locate and attack substantial reality” (Regan). Critics responded less damningly, but in a similar vein, to O’Hara’s work, which was frequently trivialized (according to one New York Review of Books critic in 1966, his poetry is “amiable and gay, like streams of crepe paper, fluttering before an electric fan” [Bewley]) as a way of highlighting its lack of depth.