William Carlos Williams' Poetic Response to the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike

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This is the first in-depth analysis of the ways that the 1913 Paterson silk strike influenced Williams’s early development as a modernist poet and his creation of the long poem Paterson. It will interest those who study the relationship between literature and history, the tension between art and politics, and the representation of labor and class.


“With this important book, Dr. Cappucci implicitly reminds us not to judge William Carlos Williams’s art as typically disengaged by examining his work in a new historical manner…..With thorough and intelligent readings of Williams’s individual poems as well as the epic Paterson, we find that Williams’s art was not as esoteric and inaccessible as thought by some…. soundly convinces us that Williams’s poetic experimentation was a natural and inevitable extension of the struggle, political in nature, between the artist and the materials of his milieu…. This book is truly a ‘must read’ for any scholar of American literature or history.” – John R. Woznicki

“For Williams the strike melded radicals, workers, and artists into lifework he could claim: to mirror this modernity, this vilest swill hole in Christendom, through his poems. . . . The Paterson strike of 1913 focused a young bridegroom’s attention on stirring facts of life in his locale. Thereafter he saw its moving dramas and the poems which might touch it, the sordid and beautiful people who were its principle players, the sited squalors of its enduring worth.” – Merrill Maguire Skaggs

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. The Early Life and Poetry of Dr. Williams
2. The "Dusty Fight" and Williams' "The Wanderer"
3. Williams' Contact with America (1914-1925)
4. "Sounding Out" the Depths of Paterson
5. Weaving together the Threads of Paterson
Conclusion; Bibliography; Index

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