Ugly Duckling Presse

Experts Are Puzzled

Laura Riding

edited by George Fragopoulos

Fiction
Spring 2018
Forthcoming"...fiction and philosophy are inextricably and wonderfully melded."
A nearly impossible text to categorize—is it a collection of short stories, prose poems, manifestos or something else entirely?—Experts Are Puzzled is one of Laura Riding's earliest and most intense examinations of poetry's and language's relationship to truth. In essayistic examinations such as the titular piece, "Introduction to a book on Money," and "An Address to America," Riding seeks to articulate a higher, more poetic notion of truth and truth telling, a project that would later result in her famous renunciation of poetry itself. As such, Experts Are Puzzled stands as an essential text in better understanding why it is that Riding rejected poetry and stopped writing it altogether in the late 1930s. While excerpts and selections from Experts have been published before, most notably in Riding's The Progress of Stories, the entirety of the collection has not appeared in print since its initial publication by Jonathan Cape in 1930.

Edited by George Fragopoulos.
Introduction by Mark Jacobs and George Fragopoulos.

Experts Are Puzzled is #19 in the Lost Literature series, and is published in tandem with another long-lost Laura Riding title, Convalescent Conversations (Lost Literature #20).

Excerpt ˇ

Excerpt

At least, that is to say, I am a stranger of a fixed old age and I am not puzzled. Ask me anything you like and I will give you a not-puzzled answer. I will not give you an answer. I am a stranger. I do not live, I am only alive. I hear the birds with lice under their wings singing, but I do not understand because I am not a bird with lice under my wings singing. I am not an expert, I am not puzzled. I am a stranger. If you are in search of information you must listen to your own young familiar voice singing and scratch your own young familiar breast where it itches. I am only a poor stranger of a fixed old age and not at all puzzled.Close ˆ

About the Author

Laura Riding
Laura Riding was a poet, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and publisher. While primarily known for the critical works that she co-authored with Robert Graves—A Pamphlet Against Anthologies and A Survey of Modernist Poetry—Riding also left behind an incredibly powerful body of poetry and prose works that, regrettably, remain little read today. These include The Close Chaplet, The Lives of Wives, and The Progress of Stories. Famously rejecting poetry early in her career, she spent the last decades of her life co-writing a theoretical work on linguistics, Rational Meaning, with her husband Schuyler Jackson. She was awarded the Bollingen Prize in 1991, the very same year she died.

About the Editor

George Fragopoulos
George Fragopoulos's poetry has appeared in the journals The Found Poetry Review, House Organ, and Momoware. His translations from the Greek of Manolis Anagnostakis's poems were published in Fairleigh Dickinson University Press' Manolis Anagnostakis: Poetry and Politics, Silence and Agency in Post-War Greece. He has published academic articles on the poetry of Olga Broumas, Robert Duncan, George Economou, Bob Kaufman, and Laura (Riding) Jackson. He lives in New York City and is an assistant professor of English at Queensborough Community College, CUNY.

Advance Praise

It is wonderful to discover Laura Riding's all but unknown Experts are Puzzled, an oddity that is just short of being a masterpiece, wherein fiction and philosophy are inextricably and wonderfully melded. Now it is time to revive her other major prose works, notably the dazzling Progress of Stories and the historical novel, A Trojan Ending.—John Ashbery