Links for the East Side Readers' discussion.

1 comment:

WC said...

I finally read some of the links. here is a line from one of them:

"His life was complicated by guilt over his sexual needs and alcoholism."

The profile by David Denby in The New yorker is good about the interaction among his sexuality, alcoholism, religiosity and creativity:

"Reading Bergreen, with his account of Agee's alternating states of euphoria and despair, one can see the outlines of what a later age would call a manic-depressive temperament, medicated in a way then considered appropriate for a man of Agee's background with cigarettes, alcohol, and sex. Since Agee successfully dramatized euphoria and despair in his best work, in the form of idealizing hope and lacerating anger, one could say that his genius was inseparable from his neuroses, and let it go at that."

"Agee, born an Episcopalian, and deeply religious as a child, was no longer an orthodox believer. But he had a consciousness of the sacred in people and in ordinary objects that believers associate with God's immanence. He loved, and took literally, Blake's proclamation "Everything that lives is holy."

This statement, I think, applies directly to the treatment of religion in "A Death in the Family":

"Farber and Kael missed something in Agee that was foreign to their own temperaments—the intricate and unending play of piety and blasphemy,, the twin needs of an essentially religious man to revere and to let loose."

Clearly a complex and talented man. Who knows how much that weird family contributed to both?