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The Contemporary Leonard Cohen

Response, Reappraisal, and Rediscovery

Edited by Kait Pinder & Joel Deshaye
Subjects Poetry, Music, Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature
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Hardcover : 9781771125611, 384 pages, November 2023

Table of contents

Introduction: The Contemporary Leonard Cohen - Kait Pinder and Joel Deshaye
“A Man Must Be Very Alone”: The Contemporary as the Outsider
“I Desire Only Your Love by the Telling”: Alienation and Authenticity in “A Ballet of Lepers” and The Favourite Game - Laura Cameron and Claudine Gélinas-Faucher
Leonard Cohen, Marianne Ihlen and Hydra’s Summer of Love - Tanya Dalziell and Paul Genoni
Untimely Meditations: Critical History in Flowers for Hitler - Kait Pinder
Is It Really Revolting? Towards an Ethics of Loss in Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers and Dionne Brand’s In Another Place, Not Here - Gregory Betts
After “THE DACHAU GENERATION”: Contemporaries in Song
Fame, Failure, and Redemption: Leonard Cohen and His Contemporaries - Norman Ravvin
Gossip, Rumour, and Relationship: Learning Leonard Cohen from Joni Mitchell - Joel Deshaye
“I Undid Your Gown”: Rhyming Decorum in the Lyrics of Leonard Cohen - Brian Laidlaw
“A Song the People Loved was Written by a Thief”: Cohen’s Songs of Revolt - Patrick Nickleson
“Desire the Horse / Depression the Cart”: Feeling Contemporary
“I’ve Seen the Future, Baby: It is Murder”: The Apocalypse in Leonard Cohen’s Pop Theology - Christophe Lebold
The Humble One: A Polyptych of Self-Portraits in Book of Longing and The Flame - Joan Angel
“Memory White from Loss of Guilt”: Guilt and Detachment in the Early Cohen - Brian Trehearne
Ways to Say Goodbye: Valedictions in Book of Longing - Paul Robichaud
Conclusion: “A Brief Elaboration”: Fan-Scholars and Cohen Studies - Joel Deshaye and Kait Pinder
Kait Pinder, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS
Joel Deshaye, Memorial University, St. John's, NFLD
Laura Cameron, Toronto, ON
Claudine Gélinas-Faucher, Québec City
Tanya Dalziell, University of Western Australia, Perth
Paul Genoni, Curtin University, Perth
Gregory Betts, Brock University, St. Catharine's ON
Norman Ravvin, Concordia University, Montréal
Patrick Nickleson, Queen's University, Toronto
Brian Laidlaw, University of Denver, Boulder
Christophe Lebold, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg FR
Joan Angel, Independent, Quebec
Brian Trehearne, McGill University, Montreal
Paul Robichaud, Albertus Magnus College, New Haven


The Contemporary Leonard Cohen is an exciting new study that offers an original explanation of Leonard Cohen’s staying power and his various positions in music, literature, and art.

The death of Leonard Cohen received media attention across the globe, and this international star remains dear to the hearts of many fans. This book examines the diversity of Cohen’s art in the wake of his death, positioning him as a contemporary, multi-media artist whose career was framed by the twentieth-century and neoliberal contexts of its production. The authors borrow the idea of “the contemporary” especially from philosophy and art history, applying it to Cohen for the first time—not only to the drawings that he included in some of his books but also to his songs, poems, and novels. This idea helps us to understand Cohen’s techniques after his postmodern experiments with poems and novels in the 1960s and 1970s. It also helps us to see how his most recent songs, poems, and drawings developed out of that earlier material, including earlier connections to other writers and musicians.

Philosophically, “the contemporary” also sounds out the deep feelings that Cohen’s work still generates in readers and listeners. Whether these feelings are spiritual or secular, sincere or ironic, we get them partly from the sense of timeliness and the sense of timelessness in Cohen’s lyrics and images, which speak to our own lives and times, our own struggles and survival. From a set of international collaborators, The Contemporary Leonard Cohen delivers an appreciative but critical examination of one of our dark luminaries.