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Gnostic Contagion
Robert Duncan & the Poetry of Illness
Peter O'Leary

2002 • 288 pp. 5 illus. 6 x 9"
Poetry Criticism

$24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6564-8

Brings together the study of literature with the psychology and history of religions.

Robert Duncan’s poetic creativity does not exist without a language of illness, nor the revelation and insight that such language generates. This ground-breaking interdisciplinary work is one of the first book-length studies of Robert Duncan's poetry, and it includes a treatment of his influences (H.D. and Freud) and those he influenced (Nathaniel Mackey and John Taggart). Through close readings of crucial poems, Peter O'Leary shows how Duncan's poetry locates a gnostic insight expressed through a language of illness in the realms of religion. Gnosticism is a doctrine of salvation by knowledge.

In addition to studying Duncan's poetry and his life, O'Leary considers the psychological impact Freud's ideas of the unconscious and dream interpretation had on the poet. O’Leary continues with an analysis of Duncan's work in light of the theories of shamanism put forth by religion historian Mircea Eliade. Along the way, O'Leary undertakes detailed discussions of gnosticism, hermeticism, spiritualism, psychoanalysis, shamanism and religions of the African diaspora.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"Gnostic Contagion is a smart, learned, and wide-ranging book, a ground-breaking study of Robert Duncan's work. O'Leary's overarching theme of poetry as illness or curative, both poison and medicine, is illuminating and suggestive."Mark Scroggins, author of Louis Zukofsky and the Poetry of Knowledge

"Continuously enlightening and stimulating,. Gnostic Contagion is original, written with vitality, and addressed to a subject of singular importance: the intersection of art and malady, poetry and psychosis. O'Leary's research is meticulous. He has written a book that will engage scholars in several distinct disciplines, and will prove accessible to a diverse audience."Jed Rasula, Helen S. Lanier Professor of English at the University of Georgia

Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:02:48 -0500