Elizabeth Bishop: Poems
Bishop and Moore: An Exploration of Magic Realism College
In The Golden Bough, Sir James George Frazer argues that contemporary science, while evolving from magical and religious attempts to understand and control the natural world, eclipses these frameworks. To Frazer “magic” in the 20th century “is a spurious system of natural law as well as a fallacious guide of conduct; it is a false science as well as an abortive art.” Frazer had a significant impact on early modernism, particularly T.S. Eliot who claimed his work “has influenced our generation profoundly”. The poetry of Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, in its precision and careful description of the natural world, has been characterized as reflective of a supposed modernist obsession with scientific ways of understanding the world. Paradoxically, both poets achieve a “mysterious”, otherworldly effect through their commitment to precision, in Moore’s writing this manifests itself mainly in an excessive use of defamiliarization, whereas Bishop’s also explores the dreamscape, linked with an existential anxiety. While some critics have looked into Torodov’s ‘fantastic’ literature and its relation to Moore, and others have examined the surrealist influences of Bishop, none have considered the possibility that their works...
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