Pathetic Literature

Eileen Myles (editor)

$35.00

2 left in stock

Pathetic Literature, edited by Eileen Myles / ISBN 9780802157157 / a thick 645-page hardcover from Grove Press, published 2022

***

An utterly unique collection composed by the award-winning poet and writer, a global anthology of pieces from lesser-known classics by luminaries like Franz Kafka, Samuel R. Delany, and Gwendolyn Brooks to up-and-coming writers that examine pathos and feeling, giving a well-timed rehab to the word “pathetic”

“Literature is pathetic.” So claims Eileen Myles in their provocative and robust introduction to Pathetic Literature, a breathtaking mishmash of pieces ranging from poems to theater scripts to prose to anything in between, all exploring the so-called “pathetic” or awkwardly-felt moments and revelations around which lives are both built and undone.

Myles first reclaimed the word for a seminar they taught at the University of California San Diego in the early 2000s, rescuing it from the derision into which it had slipped and restoring its original meaning of inspiring emotion or feeling, from the Ancient Greek rhetorical method pathos. Their identification of “pathetic” as ripe for reinvention forms the need for this anthology, which includes a hearty 106 contributors, encompassing canonical global stars like Robert Walser, Jorge Luis Borges, Rumi, and Gwendolyn Brooks, literary libertines like Dodie Bellamy, Samuel R. Delany, and Bob Flanagan, as well as extraordinary writers on the rise, including Nicole Wallace, Precious Okoyomon, and Will Farris. Wrenching and discomfiting prose by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Jack Halberstam, and Porochista Khakpour rubs shoulders with poems by Natalie Diaz, Victoria Chang, Lucille Clifton, and Ariana Reines, and butts up against fiction from Chester Himes, Djuna Barnes, Chris Kraus, and Qiu Miaojin, among so many others, including Myles’s own opening salvo of their 1992 presidential campaign. The result is a completely anomalous and uplifting anthology that encourages a fresh political discourse on literature, as well as supplying an essential compendium of pained, awkward, queer, trans, gleeful, and ever-jarring ways to think differently and live pathetically on a polarized and fearful planet.

“Huge—and (I hope) hugely influential . . . A collection that makes an argument or, even more, aspires to frame a counter-tradition of literature . . . An anthology rich in allusions: One piece speaks to another across geography and time . . . The weave is so all-encompassing, the associations so multilayered, that I feel like fireworks are popping off inside my head . . . Pathetic Literature represents not so much a collection as it does an ethos: ‘almost a poem,’ its creator observes. These texts and voices take us someplace unexpected, beyond the individual and into the realm of a collective, a tapestry of words that add up to a way of being in the world.”—David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

50 Watts Favorites