Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Selections from reviews of
The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice


What is particularly powerful about The Pink Guitar is the way its readings of prior texts are simultaneously a form of critical intervention and poetic evocation. [...] In her writing, DuPlessis allows herself as much critical and emotional range as possible--of didactic statement, poetic evocation, theoretical pronouncements, emotional equivocation, polished writing, and flattened speech.  [...] The supreme quality of The Pink Guitar is how insightfully and thoroughly DuPlessis understands the ways that gender relations are embedded within signifying practices--and how a feminist writing practice must disrupt these practices on multiple levels, in multiple ways. The Pink Guitar establishes a powerful feminist writing practice not because of DuPlessis’s refusal of authority, transcendence, and singularity, but because of the ways she redeploys these.”  (pp. 322 and 324) Jeanne Heuving, in Contemporary Literature XXXVII, 2 (1996): 315-332.

“Postmodern criticism is marked most of all by ‘self-reflexivity’, by the interweaving of autobiography and theory. Rachel Blau DuPlessis is a spectacular exponent of this postmodern technique. In her essays DuPlessis makes daring combinations of her poetry and extracts from her daily diary together with literary criticism, history and psychoanalysis.” (p. 162) Maggie Humm, A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Feminist Criticism. Brighton: Harvester, 1994.

“With the dazzling, sometimes breathtaking The Pink Guitar, Rachel Blau DuPlessis has produced one of the boldest, most enlightening, innovative, challenging, and knowledgeable works of feminist theory to grace the last couple of decades....” (p. 385) Martha Nell Smith, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 13, 2 (Fall 1994): 385-388.

“This is one of the most pleasurable works of criticism I have read for years. These essays fuse disparate voices, colloquial, theoretical, autobiographical. They intercut DuPlessis’ own words with those of other writers and poets. They draw together aspects of being usually sundered in criticism, without imposing systems or closure.” [...] Poetry, fiction, works of art, criticism, theory all appear as different kinds of attempts to make and unmake meanings [in The Pink Guitar]. Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ book continually asks rather than answers questions, hazards provisional phrasings which she continually reworks. She draws on a wide range of current theory, and is, in her own way, a rigorous thinker, but she is concerned with practice, hers and other’s.” (pp. 171 and 170) Helen Carr, in New Formations 20 (Summer 1993): 167-172.

“In a highly polysemic and mobile style [DuPlessis] then attempts to actualize through readings of various poets, the relation between female writers, feminist theory and modernism. In ‘Otherhow,’ the title of one of her most interesting pieces, she addresses the ‘terrible inadmissible congruence of gender and poetry,’ by which she alludes to the male-gendered ‘poetic voice’ or ‘genius’ while seeking ‘another kind of textual space through which and one to which a plethora of “polygynous” practices teem’ as a plausible female practice of poetry.” (p. 31) “It is salutary that writers and critics such as Rita Felski, Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Nicole Brossard, for all their basic differences, are all operative in developing forms of writing that are wide and sophisticated enough to question the assumptions of deconstruction at its breaking-point with feminism, hence in developing a practice and critique utilizing arguments from both movements while remaining resolutely at their vanguard.” (p. 37) Caroline Bergvall, in fragmente 5 (1993): 30-38.

The Pink Guitar is the freshest and most stimulating collection of critical writing that I’ve read in the last couple of years. ...This is deft improvisation--a dance between the categories and tropes of the poetic and the critical much in the manner that Lennie Tristano reinterpreted the jazz tradition in his work.” (p. 9) Joel Lewis, in The Poetry Project Newsletter #141 (1991): 8-9.


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