A Son at the Front (Library of America) by Edith Wharton

By Edith Wharton

Encouraged by means of a tender guy Edith Wharton met in the course of her war relief paintings in France, A Son on the Front(1923) opens in Paris on July 30, 1914, as Europe totters on the point of conflict.

Expatriate American painter John Campton, whose basically son George, having been born in Paris, needs to document for accountability within the French army, struggles to maintain his son clear of front while grappling with the ethical implications of his actions. A poignant meditation on paintings and ownership, fidelity and responsibility, A Son on the Front is Wharton’s indelible tackle the warfare novel.

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Indeed, Olson’s marking of this early version of his essay as itself a “letter” looks ahead to “Mayan Letters” and “The Gate and the Center,” portions of which were 38 ● Male Subjectivity and Poetic Form drawn almost verbatim from letters to Creeley. Moreover,” Projective Verse” is very much a collaborative work, created through correspondence, through a collaboration that relies as much on Boldereff ’s presence as an auditor to Olson’s formulations of a new prosody in American verse, as on Creeley’s contribution as fraternal recipient.

Olson’s “private soul” was indeed on display here, but so carefully partitioned and concealed within the combinate layers of his relation with Boldereff that even Olson’s effusive gratitude as articulated in his letters to her seems somehow incomplete disingenuous: “One of my secret delights is to find myself suddenly not just using Motz vocabulary, but the twisting of the mouth, the exact same heat and pressure of breath, the gestures, the works! and finding that it makes people jump . . what a wonderful thing you are, what a power and beauty” (UCT/Storrs).

In the psychodynamic pairing of master-ephebe, Olson’s push clearly required not only the imprimatur of the father, but also some clear redrawing of boundaries between himself and such “lesser” forebears as Lowell, slammed not so subtly in the Olson and the Crisis of Cold War Masculinity ● 43 reference to the “Amygists”—itself a neat conflation of disdain for the genteel poetry of Amy Lowell and astringent reminder of Olson’s pairing of himself with Pound. If in “Projective Verse” Olson uses “the exact same heat and pressure of breath .

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