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David Shapiro and Harry Mathews: The Ironic List

Recorded in the summer of 1975, poet and critic David Shapiro interviews novelist Harry Mathews about his recently published, The Sinking of the Oradek Stadium and Other Novels. They discuss criticism of writers working in New York; refuting the idea that they write in parody. Alternatively, Mathews talks about writing with irony as an isolated, monomeric device, as opposed to something thematic. The critic recognizes the transcendental ideas in Mathews' work and compares his efforts to those of Sartre and other European writers. Mathews discusses his approach, accepting that his style does lean towards the “other,” which complements his efforts to embrace more concrete “American” devices. To that end, Mathews talks about how Kafka's cynicism, politics, and use of sexuality has informed his work.

American author Harry Mathews has been celebrated for his poetry, fiction, and translations of French texts. The contexts of his work are often highly improbable, best characterized for their dry humor. He is often associated with the New York School of poets; yet he is also the only American member of the French avant-garde literary society, Oulipo. He has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His published works include The Conversions (1962), Cigarettes (1987), Singular Pleasures (1988), and My Life in CIA (2005).

New York based poet, David Shapiro, has taught at his alma mater; Columbia University, as well as Princeton and Cooper Union. In addition to his own literary works, he has authored a study on his of his New York School contemporaries John Ashbery and visual artists Jasper Johns, Piet Mondrian, and Jim Dine. Shapiro has been the recipient of numerous awards, such as the; Creative Artists Public Service Grant, The National Book Award, and The America Awards for Literature. His body of work includes; A Man Holding an Acoustic Panel (1971), The Page-Turner (1972), Lateness (1977), To an Idea (1983), House (Blown Apart) (1988), After a Lost Original (1994), and New and Selected Poems (1965–2006).


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


An unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas, and featuring Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others.