The Poetry of Thom Gunn

A Critical Study

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About the Book

Thom Gunn served as a mouthpiece for his time, illustrating the social, cultural, and historical transformations that have characterized western civilization from World War II until today. Starting with theoretical premises drawn from philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, this work examines Thom Gunn’s entire poetic career.
In Gunn’s early poetry, the author argues, the predominant theme is the desire for freedom from the painful prison of the intellect and from the masks that the individual feels compelled to wear even in his sexual relationships.
In Gunn’s later poetry, the author notes a gradual opening to human relationships and to Nature, which is also Gunn’s vindication and reevaluation of his own nature and the liberation of his long repressed and hidden homosexuality.

About the Author(s)

Stefania Michelucci is associate professor of English literature at the University of Genoa (Italy). She has written extensively on Lawrence and on other 19th and 20th century authors. She has also worked on the relationship between literature and the visual arts.

Bibliographic Details

Stefania Michelucci
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3687-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Clive Wilmer      1
Preface      5
Abbreviations      9

Introduction
The Fifties      11
A Virtual “Movement”      12
Criticism and Poetry      15
The Canonization of the Movement      20
Thom Gunn and the Movement      22

I. “I’m an Anglo-American poet”: Profile of Thom Gunn
Premise      25
Artistic Development      25

II. In Search of an Ubi Consistam
Boasting Concealment: The Staging of Passion in the Early
Collections      43
Between Tradition and Innovation      49
The Prison of the Intellect      51
Choosing Inertia      52
Action as Existential Absolute      54

III. A Challenge to the Void
Heroes in Motion      59
Shaping the Fog      69

IV. Surrender and Recovery
The Phenomenology of Defeat      81
The Twilight of Heroism      87
From Senses to Sense      94
Contact      100

V. An Experiment in Artistic Collaboration
Premise      109
Positives      110

VI. The Liberating Sixties
Gay Pride      124
Rebirth      128

VII. The Body, Disease, and Death
The Outsider      133
The Annihilation of Self      135
Regression to a Primal State      136
The Tortured Body      140
The Aging Body      143
The Dismembered Body      147

Thom Gunn Today      153
Appendix: Cole Street, San Francisco: A Conversation with Thom Gunn      159
Chapter Notes      175
Bibliography      199
Index      207

Book Reviews & Awards

“The book, and its translation into English by Jill Franks, is undoubtedly an achievement. Readings are conscientious, accurate and well researched”—The Times Literary Supplement.