ISBN 9780262082518,Somehow a Past - The Autobiography of Marsden Hartley

Somehow a Past - The Autobiography of Marsden Hartley

Publisher:

Mit Press

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ISBN 9780262082518
Publisher

Mit Press

Publication Year 1996
ISBN-13

ISBN 9780262082518

ISBN-10 0262082519
Binding

Hardback

Number of Pages 260 Pages
Language (English)
Subject

Electronics & communications engineering

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) is best known as an American modernist and pioneering artist of the early twentieth century. But he was also a prolific writer who published dozens of essays and reviews and several volumes of poetry and prose. The autobiographical account of his life in the manuscript collection of Yale?s Beinecke Library has often been consulted by scholars and curators writing about Hartley. It is the most revealing document he left about his personal life and relationships?both for its disclosures and omissions?but has never been published before.

Transcribed from Hartley?s own handwritten manuscripts, this edition is accompanied by photographs (some never before published), notes, and an introduction discussing Hartley?s fascination with autobiography in the context of his struggle with notions of self-representation in art. Susan Ryan also describes the circumstances surrounding the composition of Somehow a Past, and explains the distinctions between this original version and two later ones also in the Beinecke Library.

Somehow a Past is compelling both as historical document and as personal narrative. Although solitary, self-involved, and saturnine, Hartley nevertheless knew nearly every figure of the international avant-garde in his day and unfolds his life largely through a chain of personal encounters. His traffic with such major literary and artistic figures as Alfred Stieglitz, Vasili Kandinski, Gertrude Stein, Mabel Dodge, Eugene O?Neill, Robert McAlmon, and Charles Demuth is recorded as are his travels both domestic and foreign.

Somehow a Past is gossipy, discursive, and self-distanced. Hartley drafted it several times, truncating the description of his traumatic childhood, and leaving out any overt reference to his homosexuality. Yet there are moments of crystal clear self-characterization and leitmotifs that commemorate his troubled youth.
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