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HUMANITIES 321 The ultimate question is how importantly Galbraith figured in the policy process. In this regard, the scholar-diplomat registered a mixed record. However close he was to Kennedy, his was not the decisive voice on too many crucial instances. To be sure, Galbraith may have played a role in a number of KeIU1edy decisions - the tilt towards India in the feud with Pakistan; the neutralization of Laos; and the refusal to commit military troops toVietnam. Yet his warnings against entanglementin the Bay ofPigs were not heeded. Nor did hls predictions of failure in Vietnam win the day: Washington sank deeper into the morass - while the possibility that Kennedy was contemplating disengagement during the last weeks of his life remains an elusive question. In the end, the bright and confident Galbraith fell short of the task of saving his president from tainting the Camelot legend. Bearing this in ntind, general readers and specialists alike would derive much enjoyment and profit from this instructive volume on the KelU1edy presidency. (NOAM KOCHAVI) Ralph Maud. What Does Not Change: The Significance of Charles Olson's 'The Kingfishers' Parleigh Dickillson University Press. 176. us $33.50 I first read Charles Olson's iThe Kingfishers' in an undergraduate seminar with Robin Blaser at Simon Fraser University in _1968. If the ability of a poem's lines to stick with you is any measure of its accomplishment, then 'The Kingfishers' is a remarkable poem. For thirty years, lines from the poem have haunted me for different reasons. 'What does not change / is the will to change' has seen me through the unanticipated metamorphoses of all those years and directed my thinking about the world as given to us. The frisson of 'I thought of the E on the stone and what Mao said' has continued to resonate with mystery. 'When the attentions change / the jungle leaps in' and 'I hunt among stones' still ring with Significance in various situations. And the description of the Kingfisher's nest, that I dripping, fetid mass,' out of which such beauty and mystery are born, has never stopped informing my sense of the process of making. Recently the importance and power of 'The Kingfishers' has been more objectively acknowledged. It has been the focus of various analyses of developments in post-Second World War American poetry and culture. Daniel Belgrad devoted extensive space to the poem in The Culture of Spontaneihj, where he located it as a seminal document in the struggle against liberal corporatism after the war. Perry Anderson also gave the poem extensive attention in The Origins of Postmodernism, where he underscored its importance in the early debates on the development and nature of the postmodern. Both of these books tend to treat the complexities of the poem in somewhat sweeping terms, deploying it within larger theoretical argu- 322 LETIERS IN CANADA 1998 ments. Ralph Maud's What Does Not Change: The Significance of Charles Olson's 'The Kingfishers,' moves within different parameters. Maud's book is something you don't often see in these days of continuing theoretical ascendancy - a straightforward, unapologetic explication du texie. Maud, with utmost patience and determination, works his way through the poem passage by passage, bringing his extensive knowledge to bear on explicatmg the poem's references and complexities. ' As might be guessed, a 175-page explication has its high points and its low. The lows have almost entirely to do with style. Unless one is a stylist on the order of William Empson, the dangers of explication are all too obvious. There is a natural pull towards an explanatory mode that can quickly become tedious. Maud, for all his unquestioned knowledge, does not claim to be an Empson, and frequently the reading is tough going. Nevertheless, the effort is worth it. Maud's unparalleled knowledge of Olson's reading allows him to open details of the poem that are otherwise unavailable, and to extend those openings to explanations of intimate details of the poet's mind. Take for instance his tracking of Olson's sense of the E on the stone at Delphi. He moves through years of the poet's reading of and thinking about Socrates... Plutarch, Jean Riboud...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 321-322
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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