Imagining Language

By Jed Rasula and Steve McCaffery (1998)
When works such as Finnegans Wake and Tender Buttons were first introduced, they went so far beyond prevailing linguistic standards that they were widely considered “unreadable,” if not scandalous. Jed Rasula and Steve McCaffery take these and other examples of twentieth-century avant-garde writing as the starting point for a collection of writings that demonstrates a continuum of creative conjecture on language from antiquity to the present. The result is more laboratory than inventory. The anthology, which spans three millennia, generally bypasses chronology in order to illuminate unexpected congruities between seemingly discordant materials. Thus the juxtaposition of Marcel Duchamp and Jonathan Swift, of Victor Hugo and Easter Island “rongo rongo.”

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