We learn that Cohen initially pursued a career as a writer, and published his first book of poetry, as well as a couple of novels (the second of which, Beautiful Losers, was quite controversial), well before he made his first record.
Blake’s poem Milton involves a personal relationship between Milton ’s spirit and Blake; Blake narrates the poem to us, directly, through highly personal, individualistic language. The voice and personal experiences of Blake convey an important part of the meaning. Leonard Cohen similarly refers to highly personal content through an intimate, individualistic voice. Interestingly, Cohen, like Blake and other Romantic poets, attempted to write drama for theatre but did not appear suited to the enterprise. The deeply intimate nature of Romantic impulses seems to invite a direct relationship with the listener or reader, requiring personal presence. Individual imagination, after all, officiates in the ceremony of muse, artist, and society. Romanticism is thus partly about the role of personal voice.
2017/8/24 · Read this essay on Leonard Cohen
In conclusion, Cohen’s work does contain Romantic features: references to the Medieval courtly tradition (including archaic words such as "thee"); a tendency to beautify (and perhaps falsify) subjects (see Boucher’s analysis of the lyric "Suzanne," 191); a penchant for musical, magical devices, such as rhythm and rhyme, and for populist interventions (the pop chansonier); an emphasis on ordinary subjects and situations (often given an extraordinary twist); a concern with emotional extremes; immersion in nature (in this case, human nature and sexuality); a quest for self-identity, atonement and God; a personal resistance to societal ills; and a prophetic dimension—not only in signaling wrongs but in suggesting spiritual requirements for renewal. But does Cohen’s work also reflect Neoclassical "virtues," such as dignity, decorum, elegance, and above all, balance? Are there reasons— not least the major influences of Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism— for considering that while a knowledge of Romanticism helps us to appreciate Leonard Cohen, this knowledge takes us only so far?
Hallelujah' Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen dead at age 82 -
Hutcheon, Linda. The Canadian Postmodern: A Study of Contemporary English-Canadian Fiction. Toronto: , 1988.
Hutcheon includes a chapter ("The Early Postmodernism of Leonard Cohen," 26-43) identifying ways in which Cohen’s second novel, Beautiful Losers can be read as Postmodern. She emphasizes the extent to which the "text refers to itself as a text" (29), a notably Neoclassical intellectual game-playing tendency. Ironic playfulness of this nature has long been an element of English fiction, however, remarkable in early novels like Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (1767) and highly practiced by Joyce. Whether Cohen, with Beautiful Losers, should really be called a Postmodernist while Joyce remains seen as entirely Modernist, may seem a question for a long summer evening with nothing much else to do. If literary critics have found a term more nebulous than Romanticism, it is surely Postmodernism. Many of the claims made for Postmodernism appear equally true of work by Modernists as well as by writers as early as Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400). There is a definite problem in trying to categorize literary style and spirit too exclusively by chronology and by seeking too many chronological divisions into so- called "new ages." The critic Owen Barfield, drawing on the spiritual- historical ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), argues for a certain limited number of key points when substantive changes of direction did occur— when new wine, requiring new skins, was introduced. Critics with this outlook might see Modernism and Postmodernism (at least, as currently demonstrated) simply as one period of Modernist reassembling of Romanticism and Neoclassicism, a period of stock-taking at the end of an era, a moment singularly lacking in any definite sense of what is coming next. Many, however, would question this opinion and insist that Postmodernism is, indeed, its own era. For a summary of attributes assigned to Modernism and Postmodernism, see the listed Websites of Professor John Lye.
Hallelujah' Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen dead at age 82 W
After graduating from McGill University, Cohen moved to the Greek island of Hydra, where he purchased a house for $1,500 with the help of a modest trust fund established by his father, who died when Leonard was nine. While living on Hydra, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964) and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966).