Apparition of Splendor: Marianne Moore Performing Democracy through Celebrity, 1952–1970 (Hardcover)
While the later work of the great Modernist poet Marianne Moore was hugely popular during her final two decades, since her death critics have condemned it as trivial. This book challenges that assessment: with fresh readings of many of the late poems and of the iconic, cross-dressing public persona Moore developed to deliver them, Apparition of Splendor demonstrates that Moore used her late-life celebrity in daring and innovative ways to activate egalitarian principles that had long animated her poetry. Dressed as George Washington in cape and tricorn and writing about accessible topics like sports, TV shows, holidays, love, activism, mortality and celebrity itself, she reached a wide cross-section of Americans, encouraging them to consider what democracy means in their daily lives, particularly around issues of gender, sexuality, racial integration, class, age, and immigration. Moore actively sought out publication in popular venues (like Vogue, The New Yorker, and the Saturday Evening Post, etc.) and wrote on material chosen to directly appeal to the audiences there, influencing younger contemporaries, including poets like Ashbery, O’Hara, and Bishop, and artists like Warhol, Yoko Ono, and Ray Johnson.
"Apparition of Splendor is brilliant and necessary. It provides an extended look at Marianne Moore’s late poetry that no other book-length study has taken on…. Gregory’s deep expertise is evident throughout. Her discussions make visible startling networks of connections between poems, and – while maintaining keen focus on the late poems – briskly but sensitively draw upon the earlier poems to clarify continuities and suggest transformations. Her archival and extra-literary research, in Moore’s papers and in regard to general cultural contexts, is wonderfully on display with every page.
The subject of Moore’s late poetry is woefully understudied, and this book will conduct an important intervention in critical tendencies to dismiss this body of work. Apparition of Splendor is a major contribution to Moore studies and to studies of 20th-century American poetry.” - Linda Kinnahan, Duquesne University, author of Feminist Modernism, Poetics, and the New Economy: Mina Loy, Lola Ridge, and Marianne Moore
Published by the University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.