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Poetic Influence as Erotic. University of Toronto Press, Wrestling artifacts from the agon exhibits are bloodstained. And the Grand Palais of Family Romance is badly hung: The cleaning staff understand better than any literary critic the burden of the past. What good fortune to be greeted at the door by a docent of such gentle and generous wit as Stephen Guy-Bray, who knows how to uncover a neglected narrative in the exhibition. In the first three chapters of Loving in Verse: Poetic Influence as Erotic , Guy-Bray demonstrates with quiet persuasion how sometimes occulted models of male couples inform the understanding of poetic influence at three exemplary moments.
Statius and the footsteps of Virgil he traces intervene in the Inferno as an alternative model for Dante the pilgrim in the Brunetto Latini episode and well beyond, when Dante's Virgil becomes a textual rather than narrative presence as Dante moves towards union with Beatrice. In The Faerie Queene 4, among the many homosocial and homoerotic couples, the redoublings of Spenserian and Chaucerian textuality foreground the differences Guy-Bray believes critical between narrative and nonnarrative sexuality.
A chapter on Hart Crane's "Cape Hatteras" demonstrates how the poem makes erotic coupling an explicit model for Crane's relations with Whitman. While the subjects of this chapter are out, Guy-Bray does not depart from his insistence upon intertextuality as the complex transpositions of signifying systems. Guy-Bray clearly enjoys the sex in Crane, but his gift here is to depart from the merely biographical to demonstrate how poetic pleasure is aroused by transpositions of textuality and sexuality.
Pleasure is a key term in Bray's erotics of influence. As he reveals in his preface: So it is characteristically generous of Bray to turn to T.
Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Poet" and to Harold Bloom's Anxiety of Influence , not as defective predecessors, but to celebrate what they may have been embarrassed by in their own work and to look at the pleasures of sexuality and textuality in Roland Barthes's Le plaisir du text and in Frank O' Hara's "Personism: A Manifesto," where each of the authors in Guy-Bray's own pairing write with joy and wit about being readers following desire through an erotics of influence.