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This review is taken from PN Review 120, Volume 24 Number 4, March - April 1998.

LOY-ALIST MINA LOY, The Lost Lunar Baedeker. Selected and edited by Roger L. Conover (Carcanet) £9.95

Roger Conover's selection of Mina Loy's poetry should be greeted with a sigh of both contentment and relief. At long last it will be possible to read Loy's work and encourage others to do the same and, moreover, to read it in the most reliable form to date. An honorary (albeit temporary) Futurist, a colleague of Gertrude Stein, an uneasy member of the Poundian modernist enterprise, the widow of the Dadaist icon Arthur Cravan, Loy is a fundamentally important modernist writer, but not since her brief appearance in print with Carcanet's issue of The Last Lunar Baedeker (also edited by Conover) in 1985 has her work been obtainable. Even then, the glaring editorial interference of this earlier collection made her poems bland and obtuse, exacerbating the reader's bewilderment at Loy's enigmatic style. But, Conover's sensitive editing of The Lost Lunar Baedeker means that is all in the past and, in contentment and relief, we can begin to really enjoy Loy's poetry.

This new collection contains some previously unknown pieces; 'Marble' for example, a 1923 poem that confronts the Hellenic tradition which many of Loy's contemporaries were reinvigorating. Indeed, 'Marble' demonstrates the extent of Loy's challenge to the hegemony of modernism, not just her insistent sensitivity to the gender politics of the avant-garde (see her 1914 'Feminist Manifesto' in the collection) but her ultramodern refusal to ignore the 'tatters of tradition' abiding in the new. However, The Lost Lunar Baedeker is not simply a recovery of a lost ...


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