The covers of this book are too far apart… Ambrose Bierce


Hirsch is a critic by avocation and may not be expected to know a good deal about art as a result of seeking such a low profession. What is interesting is the transformation of the terms of inquiry. Artists used to have muses who guided them to harmonies. Now, according to Hirsch, they are driven by demons. He may be correct that most modern art is demonic in its origins but that begs the larger question of whether or not it may be considered as art or simply the working out of some metal or moral deficiency. Our vote goes with the latter and Hirsch’s book is more a cautionary tale than anything else.

The demon and the angel: searching for the source of artistic inspiration New York: Harcourt, c 2002 Edward Hirsch Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.) Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. Signed by author. xiii, 321 p.; 21 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [231]-302) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A work of art, whether a painting, a dance, a poem, or a jazz composition, can be admired in its own right. But how does the artist actually create his or her work? What is the source of an artist’s inspiration? What is the force that impels the artist to set down a vision that becomes art?

In this groundbreaking book, poet and critic Edward Hirsch explores the concept of duende, that mysterious, highly potent power of creativity that results in a work of art. It has been said that Laurence Olivier had it, and so did Ernest Hemingway, but Maurice Evans and John O’Hara did not. Marlon Brando had it but squandered it. Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith had it, and so did Miles Davis.

From Federico García Lorca‘s wrestling with darkness as he discovered the fountain of words within himself to Martha Graham’s creation of her most emotional dances, from the canvases of Robert Motherwell to William Blake’s celestial visions, Hirsch taps into the artistic imagination and explains, in terms illuminating and emotional, how different artists respond to the power and demonic energy of creative impulse.

A masterful tour of the minds and thoughts of writers, poets, painters, and musicians, including Paul Klee, Federico García Lorca, Robert Johnson, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Charles Baudelaire, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Blake, Rainer Maria Rilke, Arthur Rimbaud, Walter Benjamin, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Anthony Hecht, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, William Meredith, Sylvia Plath and Jackson Pollock.

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