Book by book, Hugh Kenner has become one of the Big Names. The list of previous works facing the half-title of his newest critical study, A Sinking Island,[1] falls only a line or two short of overflowing the page; it contains the names of no fewer than twenty-one books published over the past forty years, from Paradox in Chesterton (1948) to The Mechanical Muse (1987). Among these, as his author’s note proudly indicates, are “two [books] on Ezra Pound, three on Joyce, two on Beckett, and one on T. S. Eliot.” In fact, though a few of his works venture beyond the territory denned by these famous names —witness the titles Geodesic Math and How to Use It and Bucky: A Guided Tour of Buckminster Fuller—the bulk of Kenner’s oeuvre concerns itself with the modernist movement in...

 

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