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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2009

Introduction: ‘something fierce, subtle, strange, singular’

Summary

field A region in which a body experiences a force

as the result of the presence of some other body or bodies.

A field is thus a method of representing the way

in which bodies are able to influence each other.

This definition of ‘field’ from a dictionary of scientific terminology could also be used as a rather apt literary definition of ‘lyric’. If the lyric is a space designed to explore the way in which bodies influence each other textually, ‘Michael Field’ is a created and creative space of lyric production. Bradley and Cooper wrote in an era which resulted in Einstein's special relativity theory (1905); an era in which the understanding of the relationship between bodies across space and time was changed radically. Michael Field's lyrics seem to share the urgency of this investigation, and this study will suggest that Bradley and Cooper not only provide but also, crucially, embody a highly inventive resolution to the dialectic between bodies. They do this through the method of the paradox, which underpins the operations of this lyric ‘field’ in both spatial and temporal dimensions. The dual authorship itself is perhaps the most notable ‘spatial’ paradox, and I will be arguing throughout this book that it enables a poetics of presence based on amorphous desire which entails profound consequences for the operation of the Victorian lyric.