Savage Coast

Available

Product Details

Price
$16.95  $15.59
Publisher
Feminist Press
Publish Date
Pages
300
Dimensions
5.5 X 8.0 X 0.9 inches | 0.65 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781558618206

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About the Author

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) was a prolific American writer and political activist. Defying gender, genre and disciplinary boundaries, she wrote poems, plays, screenplays, essays, translations, biographies, history, journalism and fiction, at times combining multiple forms, on an equally wide variety of subjects. In 1935 her first collection of poetry, Theory of Flight, won the Yale Younger Poets Prize, and she went on to publish twelve more volumes of poetry. Coming of age in the radical 1930s, she used the documentary style of social realism, and often the documents themselves, while at the same time deploying aesthetic and experimental modernist techniques. Her work consistently documented, contextualized and archived stories of injustice, resistance, interconnection, invention and possibility, stories of the people and histories that were marginalized by the master narratives of war, capitalism, patriarchy and nationalism. She witnessed and wrote on the trial of the Scottsboro nine, the Spanish Civil War, the Vietnam war, and the imprisonment of poet Kim Chi-Ha in South Korea, to name only a few examples, and became a key figure for the women's liberation movement. She taught at the California Labor School in 1945, was a faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College from 1955-1967, and served as the president of the P.E.N. American Center from 1975-76. There is no doubt that throughout her life she remained at the forefront of 20th-century political and artistic culture, influencing Ann Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Marilyn Hacker, to name a few. Despite a cold-war backlash and long-term FBI surveillance, she continued to write, teach and publish, receiving a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Levison Prize for Poetry, and the Shelly Memorial Award, among other accolades. The Life of Poetry (1949), perhaps her most famous work, is very much a text of the cold-war era, and in it Rukeyser challenges us to examine the violent binaries that produce wars and prevent thinking, calls us to look for the "history of possibility" that exists always, "around and above and under" the other histories. That the text resonates still is an indication not only of her extraordinary critique of the nature of art in times of crisis, but also an indication that the times have changed not nearly enough.

Rowena Kennedy-Epstein is Lecturer in Gender and Women's Writing of the 20th and 21st Centuries at the University of Bristol, where she coordinates the Global Feminisms research cluster. She recovered and edited Muriel Rukeyser's lost Spanish Civil War novel Savage Coast (Feminist Press 2013), as well as the edition "Barcelona, 1936" & Selections from the Spanish Civil War Archive (CUNY 2011). Her scholarship and writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Modern Fiction Studies, The Journal of Narrative Theory, Modernism/Modernity, Literature and History, Textual Practice, the Paris Review Daily, and the Harper's blog, as well as in collections from Edinburgh University Press and Northwestern University Press. She is currently editing a special issue on "Women's Experimental Forms" for The Journal of Narrative Theory and completing a monograph on Muriel Rukeyser and the Cold War.

Reviews

"At first Savage Coast is a train-of-fools comedy; later, it's a cross-cultural love story Hemingway would have envied for its suddenness." --New York Times Book Review

"Rejected by her publisher in 1937, poet Rukeyser's newly discovered autobiographical novel is both an absorbing read and an important contribution to 20th-century history.... Ironically, the factors that led to the novel's rejection--Rukeyser's avant-garde impressionistic prose style, alternating with realistic scenes of brutal death and a few descriptions of sexual congress--are what make the book appealing today."--Publisher's Weekly

"...Evokes a powerful sensory landscape, as if Gerda Taro were working at a long-duration shutter speed, capturing the movement of light on her photographic paper. . . . Rukeyser manages, throughout, to avoid both sentimentality and propaganda--no mean feat, especially in the 1930s, the heyday of propagandist literature." --The Daily Beast

"A passionate, callow, self-indulgent, rambling, sporadically dazzling personal essay, or perhaps piece of proto-New Journalism. Rukeyser's sharp ear for dialogue and a filmic skill at evoking atmosphere are on full display, and Helen is a convincing, fully-rounded protagonist." --The Kenyon Review

"...Savage Coast also allows its reader to identify with Helen's journey of self-discovery without chiding us for our own naïveté. It forms a snapshot of the strange period between American involvement in two European wars, and of the anxieties of this inter-war generation. . . . Rukeyser's text proves unique not just because she is an American and a woman but also because we all know who won the war. Savage Coast shows what it meant to be a witness to it." --Open Letters Monthly

"What a treasure! Muriel Rukeyser takes us back to those crucial days when Spain became the first international battleground against fascism and hope for democracy, to tell a powerful story of personal, sexual, and political awakening. Savage Coast is bound to be an instant classic."--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

"Muriel Rukeyser's stature as a major poet was recognized in the 1980s largely through the work of feminist writers and critics. Now, the research of a younger critic Rowena Kennedy-Epstein brings us Rukeyser's modernist novel of the Spanish Civil War's beginning. Rooted in a germinal moment of the poet's life, its acute social and political observations weave the bildungsroman of a young American woman in Europe at a vital historical moment."--Marilyn Hacker, author of Presentation Piece

"Savage Coast is an astonishing book, too long lost, now a treasure for historians of the Spanish Civil War, equally a pouch of rubies for poets. Rukeyser captures the intensity of the moment--personal, political, and still contemporary."--Peter N. Carroll, author of The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

"Muriel Rukeyser spoke of Spain as the place where she began to say what she believed. At the time, Hemingway's and Orwell's male-centered blood and guts novels were greedily devoured, while a woman writing a sexually explicit, gender truthful and politically radical narrative against a background of war was inevitably ignored. Spain changed Rukeyser and her protagonist, Helen. This novel will change the reader. An extraordinary gift!"--Margaret Randall, author of To Change the World: My Years in Cuba

"Savage Coast now joins the lost brother and sisterhood of Spanish Civil War classics, from Arthur Koestler's Dialogue with Death, the desolate modernist novels of the Catalan writer Merce Rodereda, Andre Malraux's Man's Hope, Josephine Herbst's The Starched Blue Sky of Spain, and the reportage of Martha Gellhorn. Rowena Kennedy-Epstein has rescued and edited a great story. Helen and Otto are not Emma and Sasha, nor are they Karl and Rosa, but the American radical poet who tells her story speaks to all of us."--Jane Marcus, Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies, CUNY Graduate Center and the City College of New York

"At first Savage Coast is a train-of-fools comedy; later, it's a cross-cultural love story Hemingway would have envied for its suddenness." --New York Times Book Review

"Rejected by her publisher in 1937, poet Rukeyser's newly discovered autobiographical novel is both an absorbing read and an important contribution to 20th-century history.... Ironically, the factors that led to the novel's rejection--Rukeyser's avant-garde impressionistic prose style, alternating with realistic scenes of brutal death and a few descriptions of sexual congress--are what make the book appealing today."--Publisher's Weekly

"...Evokes a powerful sensory landscape, as if Gerda Taro were working at a long-duration shutter speed, capturing the movement of light on her photographic paper. . . . Rukeyser manages, throughout, to avoid both sentimentality and propaganda--no mean feat, especially in the 1930s, the heyday of propagandist literature." --The Daily Beast

"A passionate, callow, self-indulgent, rambling, sporadically dazzling personal essay, or perhaps piece of proto-New Journalism. Rukeyser's sharp ear for dialogue and a filmic skill at evoking atmosphere are on full display, and Helen is a convincing, fully-rounded protagonist." --The Kenyon Review

"...Savage Coast also allows its reader to identify with Helen's journey of self-discovery without chiding us for our own naïveté. It forms a snapshot of the strange period between American involvement in two European wars, and of the anxieties of this inter-war generation. . . . Rukeyser's text proves unique not just because she is an American and a woman but also because we all know who won the war. Savage Coast shows what it meant to be a witness to it." --Open Letters Monthly

"What a treasure! Muriel Rukeyser takes us back to those crucial days when Spain became the first international battleground against fascism and hope for democracy, to tell a powerful story of personal, sexual, and political awakening. Savage Coast is bound to be an instant classic."--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

"Muriel Rukeyser's stature as a major poet was recognized in the 1980s largely through the work of feminist writers and critics. Now, the research of a younger critic Rowena Kennedy-Epstein brings us Rukeyser's modernist novel of the Spanish Civil War's beginning. Rooted in a germinal moment of the poet's life, its acute social and political observations weave the bildungsroman of a young American woman in Europe at a vital historical moment."--Marilyn Hacker, author of Presentation Piece

"Savage Coast is an astonishing book, too long lost, now a treasure for historians of the Spanish Civil War, equally a pouch of rubies for poets. Rukeyser captures the intensity of the moment--personal, political, and still contemporary."--Peter N. Carroll, author of The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

"Muriel Rukeyser spoke of Spain as the place where she began to say what she believed. At the time, Hemingway's and Orwell's male-centered blood and guts novels were greedily devoured, while a woman writing a sexually explicit, gender truthful and politically radical narrative against a background of war was inevitably ignored. Spain changed Rukeyser and her protagonist, Helen. This novel will change the reader. An extraordinary gift!"--Margaret Randall, author of To Change the World: My Years in Cuba

"Savage Coast now joins the lost brother and sisterhood of Spanish Civil War classics, from Arthur Koestler's Dialogue with Death, the desolate modernist novels of the Catalan writer Merce Rodereda, Andre Malraux's Man's Hope, Josephine Herbst's The Starched Blue Sky of Spain, and the reportage of Martha Gellhorn. Rowena Kennedy-Epstein has rescued and edited a great story. Helen and Otto are not Emma and Sasha, nor are they Karl and Rosa, but the American radical poet who tells her story speaks to all of us."--Jane Marcus, Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies, CUNY Graduate Center and the City College of New York