Explores the role of a significant yet elusive feature of the French landscape in literature, philosophy, and art.
What does it mean to love a landscape? Why do certain authors have a predilection for specific landscapes? Why might one be fascinated by a landscape in which one would never wish to live? How does the lay of the land fashion the form of the poem? How does the wind infuse the breath? In The Wind and the Source, Allen S. Weiss explores the role of a significant yet elusive feature of the French landscape in literature, philosophy, and art: the legendary, mysterious, monolithic Mont Ventoux. This is not a book about picturesque, touristic Provence, but about the manifestation of an extreme limit of the imagination that happens to have Provence as its site, as its fantasyland. Weiss is concerned with the vicissitudes of the desire to write about a landscape, the desire to write in a landscape, and perhaps most curiously, the desire to write against a landscape. This is a book about love of the landscape, and abstraction from it; it is an account of how a mountain became a myth, and how an aesthetic and literary study became a metaphysical quest.
"Allen Weiss's essay is an antidote to arid scholarship. In a text as deftly at ease with literary giants of different languages and periods, such as Augustine, Petrarch, Mallarmé, and Char, Weiss also defies the boundaries of the genre of literary criticism. He does so by inscribing autobiographical references in his general investigation of the productive elision of Mont Ventoux by poets whose writings are nevertheless paradoxically nourished by this very elusive reference. Moreover, as Weiss makes clear in his preface, the project that we are reading stands for the impossibility of writing a novella about a mountain, and this shift between writing fiction and assessing the impossibility of writing fiction is what makes this essay so original and bold in its range and scope, truly poetic and philosophically profound in and of itself." Brigitte Weltman-Aron, author of On Other Grounds: Landscape Gardening and Nationalism in Eighteenth-Century England and France
Allen S. Weiss teaches in the Departments of Performance Studies and Cinema Studies at New York University. He is the author of many books, including Feast and Folly: Cuisine, Intoxication, and the Poetics of the Sublime, also published by SUNY Press.