The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer

By James Dempsey

“For approximately a century, Scofield Thayer has remained a a little bit shadowy determine within the background of modernism. yet James Dempsey has ultimately illuminated Thayer’s passionate, severe, and agonizing story.”—Barry Ahearn, editor of The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky

“As no different e-book has performed prior to, The Tortured lifetime of Scofield Thayer places Thayer’s contribution to modernism as editor of The Dial in the context of his own struggles to forge a brand new aesthetic and to appreciate his personal psychology and the lifetime of his times.”—Michael Webster, writer of Reading visible Poetry after Futurism      

considered as a tremendous creative and aesthetic fulfillment, the influential literary journal The Dial published lots of the nice modernist writers, artists, and critics of its day. As writer and editor of The Dial from 1920 to 1926, Scofield Thayer used to be gatekeeper and advisor for the circulate. His editorial curation brought the tips of literary modernism to the USA and gave American artists a brand new viewers in Europe.

In The Tortured lifetime of Scofield Thayer, James Dempsey appears past the general public determine top identified for publishing the paintings of William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, E.E. Cummings, and Marianne Moore to bare a paradoxical guy fraught with indecisions and insatiable appetites, and deeply conflicted concerning the creative circulate to which he used to be benefactor and purchaser. Thayer suffered from schizophrenia and pale from public existence upon his resignation from The Dial. His fight with psychological ailment and his arguable own existence led his guardians to ban something of a private nature from showing in prior biographies. the tale of Thayer’s unmoored and peripatetic lifestyles, which in lots of methods reflected the cosmopolitan rootlessness of modernism, hasn't ever been totally advised until eventually now.

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Cummings, the 1st individual singular doesn't, in itself, require a capital. eleven Murry, in line with Thayer, was once a “genus critic, species billiard-ball, [who] caroms approximately among his oblong obstacles very easily. ”12 extra importantly, Thayer’s comments are one of many first makes an attempt, if now not the 1st, to explain the idioprosody that Cummings used to be on the time growing. the opposite spat was once with the paintings critic Leo Stein. within the April 1924 factor of the hot Republic, Stein had written of Picasso: “His highbrow luggage is of the slightest, and the entire output of mind in his paintings is negligible.

Marietta’s mom additionally wrote Thayer round this time, thanking him for the reward of cash to Marietta and apologizing for a way her daughter used to be “bothering” him. As time glided by, Marietta’s letters turned extra ahead. on the finish of the yr, she despatched Thayer Christmas greetings and back complained that he didn’t write sufficient. She’d wish to write him how a lot she loves him, she acknowledged, however it “wouldn’t be right for a lady of sixteen. ” She ended her letter with a brand new Year’s toast for her liked shopper: “!!!

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Joyce. forty four simply as his released survey of Joyce’s paintings as much as Ulysses is filled with admiration, so in his own notes we see his savour Joyce: “Of Joyce’s type: so elastic a stride. ” yet Thayer additionally inspiration that Joyce’s head have been became by means of the compliment heaped upon him by means of his contemporaries, and that their urging of him into additional experimentation had set him within the incorrect course. The case of Joyce is parallel to that of Tennyson. The latter used to be led by way of the unintelligent adulation of the nice public to unfold himself in equipment now not ordinary to him .

Oh, you will have the spirit exactly,” she gushed to Johansen. “You have visible in the course of the veil. ” “Madam,” spoke back the crusty limner, “if there have been a veil there, I must have painted it. ”1 Johansen used to be simply priming himself for an assault on his younger contemporaries, who aggravated him no finish. For something, he was once livid with what many have been commencing to name sleek artwork, which he felt used to be at most sensible sloppy and at worst fraudulent. “There is not any such factor because the glossy or the recent in art,” he stated.

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