At the outset, I thank everyone who takes time to write a considered review of any of our books on amazon or any other service, even if critical (Otherwise wonderful reviews can get so stilted by the strangest things. The very first line of the review below a) criticizes my “spelling” of DeCasseres name and b) misspells my name.
I take it the reviewer believes there should be a space between the “de” and “casseres”. It doesn’t take much when collecting to see the problem, and early on I decided to use the form “DeCasseres”, rather than “De Casseres”, in all my own work. Most of the books he seemed to have had the closest editorial control over generally has the form “DeCasseres”, and most examples of his signature in my collection connect the two with a line, though I have an example where it isn’t.
So, both forms have been used in print and in his own signature. I chose what I thought was “right”.
The cover of the original edition of “Anathema” shows a space in his signature in silver foil stamping, but his actual signature inside the book (nos. 42, 488, and 761 – yes, I have three copies) all show the connected “DeCasseres”. Moreso, the title page and every mention of his name is set “DeCasseres”. The biography of Spinoza owned by DeC shows a space in the signature on the flyleaf, but The DeCasseres Books has no space on the covers in the typesetting. On the spine of “Forty Immortals” it’s “De Casseres”, on the spine of “The Muse of Lies” it’s “DeCasseres”. Etc. etc. etc.
After this initial odd stumble, it’s a wonderful review. And I thank the author of it, regardless of the contention at the outset, or the typo of my own name.
The apparently idiosyncratic and (I hope) unintentional spelling of the author’s name aside, Underworld Amusements and Kevin J. Slaughter should be commended for the work they’ve put into collecting together what I’ve found from this collection of poetry to be a criminally-neglected American author – although his anarchic, Dionysian pessimist, Nietzschean messages and his wonderfully ornate style seem to me somewhat of an outlier from many American poets and authors (of his time especially) and perhaps a bit niche. I have a feeling Mr. De Casseres would have preferred it like that anyhow.
The influence of Nietzsche and his style has a well-earned but often tiresome legacy; everyone seems to love Nietzsche, but out of all the writers I know of who were strongly influenced by his work, there are two who I think took up his ideas most explicitly with true skill. One of these is Mr. De Casseres, whose sheer wit and exquisite genius could not help but win me over; his knowledge of often obscure vocabulary, mythology, and history are put to good use in his work, which just oozes opulence and grandeur. His other work that has also been published by Underworld Amusements – Anathema! Litanies of Negation – exemplifies his style best in my opinion with its increasingly hyperbolic, soaring feats of Dionysian splendor and arrogance. In my humble opinion, it is among the finest representations of the timeless human spirit – in that instance, its unmatched arrogance, which De Casseres and Nietzsche both knew to be far from a bad thing.
As far as Imp goes: De Casseres’ style is still here, albeit oftentimes more narrowed. If Anathema! is a fable of mankind’s arrogance, Imp is the collected moments of an individual’s repeated attempts at ascension to godhood. Here we see more of the poet rather than his philosophy, with none of his grand style removed. Of course, being the very ruminative writer he is, Imp certainly is not without its share of contemplative and more general pieces (the Minutes collection in particular is an excellent example of melding the universal scope of philosophy with the highly concrete and ephemeral scope of poetry – an ancient art that De Casseres does all too well).
Some may dismiss De Casseres for being too Nietzschean, even unoriginally so, and in a sense I can see that criticism; as I’ve said, the tendency to imitate Nietzsche and the spirit of his philosophy is something far too many people do and that most do poorly. I consider De Casseres to be an example of Nietzsche’s philosophy instantiated in a man who lives by his ideas – him along with E.M. Cioran, the other author who I think takes a lot out of Nietzsche while still providing his own unique, lived interpretation of him. Some may also dismiss De Casseres for his preoccupation with unnecessarily fancy diction and syntax; to that, I say that if you don’t like a writer who can dish out classical-styled poetry with the level of skill that De Casseres does while still doing something unique with it rather than simply writing generic nostalgia poetry, you simply don’t like poetry.
On the author’s merits alone, I could give this edition of his works the highest praise simply for being released when De Casseres is relatively unknown; however, the edition itself is also an extremely high quality paperback. The material used for the pages and the cover all feel great and fittingly luxurious for the work contained, and the original cover art is just awesome. Really, Underworld Amusements went out of their way with this.
Since I’ve already probably gushed enough about De Casseres’ work, the final word I’ll give on it is to definitely check it out if you happen to enjoy philosophy in the vein of Nietzsche, if you are an anarchist who enjoys work by anarchists, or if you are a fan of classically-styled poetry. If you are into philosophy or poetry, in fact, I think it is reasonable to bet that you’ll enjoy reading this obscure author; if you are into philosophy and poetry, you may just find a new favorite.