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The Creative Process of James Agee

by Lowe, James

The Creative Process of James Agee cover
  • ISBN: 9780807118962
  • ISBN10: 0807118966

The Creative Process of James Agee

by Lowe, James

  • List Price: $30.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publish date: 07/01/1994
  • ISBN: 9780807118962
  • ISBN10: 0807118966
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Description: According to James Lowe, the prodigiously gifted, tragically self-destructive American author James Agee (1909-1955) - poet, journalist, film critic, essayist, novelist, and screenwriter - may be understood best by referring to principles Agee himself furnishes in his work. In The Creative Process of James Agee, Lowe explains that Agee's creative process required a precise tension between the disparateness of the perceived chaos of experience and the crafted resolution of unity. For Agee, when that tension was perfectly sprung and rightly apprehended, the moment became epiphanic, suggesting the perfect whole of reality. Ironically, critics have generally judged this crucial disparateness negatively, seeing it only as the price Agee paid for trying to communicate his elusive vision of transcendent unity - too grand a challenge for his, or anyone's, powers of articulation. Agee himself admitted that his vision could be only glimpsed, at best, because of "fallen" human nature, with its impaired ability to perceive. Nonetheless, Lowe insists that disparateness is more than an expression of Agee's failure. Focusing on thematic and technical implications, he argues vigorously that disparateness not only constitutes a positive force in Agee's work, but indeed is essential to its artistic success. Lowe approaches Agee's writing with the same scrutiny Agee applied to his own subject matter. After beginning with a revealing analysis of the well-known description of the Gudger house in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Lowe goes on to examine Agee's letters and minor nonfiction, his early stories and poetry, Famous Men in detail, and finally his last works of fiction - The Morning Watch, theposthumously published A Death in the Family, and the short parable "A Mother's Tale". Lowe sees Famous Men as Agee's fullest expression of that necessary tension between disparateness and unity but detects a decline in the later fiction as Agee moved away from this complex dynamic and relied more upon conventional symbolism. Among criticism that treats antithetical tension in Agee's writing, no other study closely considers his works at length. The Creative Process of James Agee thus splendidly fills a need for fresh, perceptive, and careful in-depth inquiry into this extraordinary and enigmatic writer.
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