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Lyric epiphany

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 January 2002

PAUL FRIEDRICH
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, and the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago, Chicago IL 60637

Abstract

The study of lyric epiphany, essential to any coordination of sociolinguistics and literature, is defined in terms of five considerations (e.g., its role in political rhetoric), and linguistic criteria such as phonic compression. One track in the argument deals with lyric epiphany in ordinary language (e.g., M.L. King's speeches), in prose (e.g., Cather and Tolstoy), and in the long poem. The second, intermittently intersecting track consists of intense analyses of four cases of linguistic epiphany in The Odyssey that involve (1) semantically ramifying root symbols such as the olive in Greece, (2) simile concentration, as in the reverse similes that commute antithetical subcategories, (3) phonic texturing (e.g., alliteration, phonaesthesia), and as a limiting case, (4) epiphany through chiasmus. The conclusions suggest the universal, cross-language and cross-cultural reality of lyric epiphany (e.g., not just classic Russian and Homeric Greek, but Quechua, Eskimo, and Sanskrit and Hebrew religious texts). Lyric epiphany is a subtype of generic epiphany: an intuition or revelation of truth values beyond language and empirical experience. Lyric epiphany, while a component of classical poetics – both Western and Eastern – and a subcategory of ideologies of Primitivism and, within that, of Modernism, is also, like the human body, part of the human experience that can and should be studied as part of cultural linguistics and sociolinguistics.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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