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Chapter three explores how Coleridge and the Wordsworth siblings responded to and engaged with larger questions surrounding birdsong, speech and poetry. While Coleridge throughout his life brooded over metaphysical arguments regarding ‘the one life within us and abroad’ (‘The Eolian Harp’, 1795), Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals are filled with close, detailed descriptions of birds and their songs that are neither assimilated to nor inhibited by any overarching theory regarding the sentience of other creatures and our human relation to them. As he responded to his sister’s lively observations and the philosophical arguments in which he found his friend so deeply embroiled, William Wordsworth was led into larger discussions about what may be going on inside the heads of various human and non-human others. Drawing on his own experiences of composing and ‘muttering’ over his poems in daily walks with his sister, Wordsworth hints at a subvocal language of thought that is patterned and shaped, though not always or exactly worded. Out of a deep personal recognition of a grave disjuncture between thinking and saying, Wordsworth throughout his writing explores the inner lives of others in ways that would prove crucial to Clare, Hardy and other poets writing in the following centuries.
The introduction provides necessary background on Ancient Greek religious and literary ideas about the afterlife, methods for analyzing ethics in literature that several of the chapters will challenge, a working definition of tragic poetics, and historical context and preliminary definitions relevant for political structures and themes in the Oresteia.
Can finite humans grasp universal truth? Is it possible to think beyond the limits of reason? Are we doomed to failure because of our finitude? In this clear and accessible book, Barnabas Aspray presents Ricœur's response to these perennial philosophical questions through an analysis of human finitude at the intersection of philosophy and theology. Using unpublished and previously untranslated archival sources, he shows how Ricœur's groundbreaking concept of symbols leads to a view of creation, not as a theological doctrine, but as a mystery beyond the limits of thought that gives rise to philosophical insight. If finitude is created, then it can be distinguished from both the Creator and evil, leading to a view of human existence that, instead of the 'anguish of no' proclaims the 'joy of yes.'
The previous chapter locates Parmenides in his physical and linguistic contexts; this chapter locates him in his poetic, intellectual, and cultural milieux. It argues that we need to understand Parmenides’ poem in light of the late archaic revolution in the way that Homer was conceptualized. This chapter examines the epistemological framework Parmenides inherits from Hesiod and Xenophanes in considering the nature of human enquiry; the way that other poets in the late archaic period make use of the newly emergent figure of Homer and the corpus of Homeric poetry, especially with respect to their claims to knowledge and their relationship to the Muses; and the ways that scholars have characterized developments between Homeric poetry and the poetry of the late archaic period. I show how Parmenides uses the resources this Homeric tradition offers to launch a multipronged response to the challenges set down by Hesiod and Xenophanes. These include: reinitiating contact with a Muse-like figure in the proem; the use of crossroads imagery to articulate fundamental distinctions; ceding the voice of the poem to the unnamed goddess; the use of argument; and the return to the privileged poetic form of epic dactylic hexameter.
This chapter argues that human and environmental sanctuary, operating within liberalism, is a constituent aspect of US colonialism, not an exception from it. The chapter offers a cultural genealogy of sanctuary as a justificatory logic of US settler expansion through a reading of Terry Tempest Williams’ memoir, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (1991). Against this, the chapter turns away from the canon of white American nature writing in order to center literary and material practices of survival that do not depend on international, colonial orders of protection. Here, the chapter reads Joan Naviyuk Kane’s collections of poems, The Straits (2105) and Milk Black Carbon (2017), written in the aftermath of the King Island Diaspora, as poetic and social experiments in thinking beyond colonial state sanctioned modalities of safety, return, and kinship.
This article explores Triphiodorus’ use of Cassandra in his brief epic Sack of Troy. An examination of the placing of the prophetess within the poem's plot and a comparison with previous literary attestations demonstrate that Triphiodorus makes extended use of the previously supplementary character. The reader is particularly invited to read Cassandra against the Cassandras of Euripides’ Trojan Women and Quintus Smyrnaeus’ Posthomerica, thus identifying ties with both epic and tragedy. Cassandra's speech alludes to the proem of the epic. At the same time, Cassandra's prophecy constitutes the key for understanding the connection between imagery deployed prior and subsequent to her presence, thus ensuring the thematic congruity of the poem. Triphiodorus’ Cassandra constitutes a doublet of the poet, depicted as imitating his poetic voice and effectively summarizing the entire epic in her speech; entwined in Triphiodorus’ poetic agenda, she also becomes its intradiegetic mouthpiece.
This chapter investigates the relation of style to the emergent poetics of the novel in the Victorian era. It considers the proximity of 'style' to 'craft' and the way that representations of making in three Victorian novels address the principles and the practices of craft – though rarely are the principles and practices in perfect unison given the 'makeshift creativity' discussed here. What is at stake in these representations is a question about representation itself: namely, whether style is mimetic or whether it may be more excessive, improvisatory or haphazard than that.
Some writers of the Victorian period, as well as more recent critics, have argued that the prose style of Victorian fiction aims to efface itself or that an absence of style may in itself represent the nineteenth-century ideal. This collection provides a major assessment of style in Victorian fiction and demonstrates that style - the language, techniques and artistry of prose - is inseparable from meaning and that it is through the many resources of style that the full compass of meaning makes itself known. Leading scholars in the field present an engaging assessment of major Victorian novelists, illustrating how productive and illuminating close attention to literary style can be. Collectively, they build a fresh and nuanced understanding of how style functioned in the literature of the nineteenth century, and propose that the fiction of this era demands we think about what style does, as much as what style is.
One traditional solution to the problem of how modernist poetry began is to tell the story of a transition between Yeats’s early masterpieces and Eliot’s The Waste Land. This is a story which usually centres upon the rise of free verse and a growing urgency to represent the modern world. More recently, critics have looked to tell stories about neglected poets, in which less obviously experimental works are found nevertheless to represent that same modern world. Both approaches involve tracing continuities and ruptures, often with reference to the unprecedented ruptures and rapid developments which characterised life in Britain in the first two decades of the century. This chapter shifts the emphasis from deciding how poetry somehow made a miraculous leap from the fin de siècle to high modernism, to exploring how the poetic forms of diverse poets working at this time refract the very conception and experience of transition, and especially the experience of transition when no certain beginning or end is in sight. The aim here is thus to resist the logic of literary history’s usual narratives, and to show that the poems of this period do so too at the level of poetic technique.
This chapter charts the transition, in British literature of the early twentieth century, from the Decadence associated with Wilde and his generation to the modernism associated with Eliot and his generation. If criticism has readily acknowledged that London, as the locus of an emergent modernist sensibility, was bound up in geographically extended networks of transatlantic and European literary practice, the story of historical transition from Decadence to modernism has been less often told. With particular reference to the poetries of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, the chapter shows how the aesthetics of Decadence were reconfigured and repurposed by modernist writers, before turning in a brief coda to the counter-example of W. B. Yeats, for whom questions of Decadence and modernism were bound up with the national politics of a changing Ireland.
In Poetics 13, Aristotle claims that the protagonist in the most beautiful tragedies comes to ruin through some kind of ‘failure’—in Greek, ἁμαρτία. There has been notorious disagreement among scholars about the moral responsibility involved in ἁμαρτία. This article defends the old reading of ἁμαρτία as a character flaw, but with an important modification: rather than explaining the hero's weakness as general weakness of will (ἀκρασία), it argues that the tragic hero is blinded by temper (θυμός) or by a pursuit for fine, good and desirable things—that is, by what may be labelled ‘qualified’ weakness of will. The upshot is that ἁμαρτία ends up as being less blameworthy than ‘proper’ ἀκρασία, but still explains why morally outstanding people are unsuitable for the most beautiful tragedies.
Both lauded and criticized for his pictorial eclecticism, the Florentine artist Jacopo Carrucci, known as Pontormo, created some of the most visually striking religious images of the Renaissance. These paintings, which challenged prevailing illusionistic conventions, mark a unique contribution into the complex relationship between artistic innovation and Christian traditions in the first half of the sixteenth century. Pontormo's sacred works are generally interpreted as objects that reflect either pure aesthetic experimentation, or personal and cultural anxiety. Jessica Maratsos, however, argues that Pontormo employed stylistic change deliberately for novel devotional purposes. As a painter, he was interested in the various modes of expression and communication - direct address, tactile evocation, affective incitement - as deployed in a wide spectrum of devotional culture, from sacri monti, to Michelangelo's marble sculptures, to evangelical lectures delivered at the Accademia Fiorentina. Maratsos shows how Pontormo translated these modes in ways that prompt a critical rethinking of Renaissance devotional art.
Elizabeth Bishop observed the central tensions in mid-century American poetics from a distance, which allowed her the space to resolve them in her own work in idiosyncratic and shifting ways. This chapter thus looks to her correspondence as an archive of an ad hoc poetic theory. There we see Bishop developing unique constellations of, first, the formality of accentual-syllabic verse and the flexibility of free verse and, second, a residual commitment to modernist impersonality and an emerging aesthetics of confessional disclosure. The chapter draws primarily on letters between Bishop and both Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton to advance its argument and offers readings of Bishop’s poems “Song for the Rainy Season” and “Poem” as evidence of their author’s unique engagement with mid-century poetics.
Bishop recurrently returned to the topic of Cold War politics under the pressure of public events, her life experiences, and her reading in political theory. “View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress” initiated what might be termed her Cold War poetics, in which her poems both reflected and resisted the political discourse of containment culture. Bishop deployed her complexly entangled poetics in such later poems as “Brazil, January 1, 1502,” “The Armadillo,” “12 O’Clock News,” “A Baby Found in the Garbage,” “Pink Dog” and “Exchanging Hats.” Employing a rhetoric of irony, and at times of confession, she obliquely critiqued US foreign policy, patriarchy, militarism, racial and class hierarchy, gender containment, and sexual heteronormativity
In 1936, the first Surrealist Exhibition of Objects was held at the Charles Ratton Gallery in Paris, displaying the most diverse array of material objects in the history of surrealist exhibitions to date. André Breton elaborates on this aspect of the exhibition in his enigmatic “Crisis of the Object” which was written as a text to accompany the exhibition catalog. While it has been widely read as an interpretation for a scientific reckoning of surrealism, this chapter shows that “Crisis of the Object” was rather a reflection on Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Crisis of Verse” and his materialist conception of poetry published fifty years before. A reconsideration of Breton’s theory of objects through the recent lens of new materialism offers insight into how the surrealist engagement with things in the 1930s was – and still is – revolutionary in that it sought to propose an antianthropocentric poetics of the world.
Wonder and wonders constituted a central theme in ancient Greek culture. In this book, Jessica Lightfoot provides the first full-length examination of its significance from Homer to the Hellenistic period. She demonstrates that wonder was an important term of aesthetic response and occupied a central position in concepts of what philosophy and literature are and do. She also argues that it became a means of expressing the manner in which the realms of the human and the divine interrelate with one another; and that it was central to the articulation of the ways in which the relationships between self and other, near and far, and familiar and unfamiliar were conceived. The book provides a much-needed starting point for re-assessments of the impact of wonder as a literary critical and cultural concept both in antiquity and in later periods. This title is available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Starting from Wallace Stevens’s own reflections on newness and its dynamic interchange with what comes before, the introduction explains how The New Wallace Stevens Studies is different from and complementary with previous edited volumes on the poet. After accounting for the selection of topics and contributors, it offers individual chapter summaries that simultaneously elucidate the volume’s tripartite rationale. The first group of essays explores concepts that have begun to emerge in Stevens criticism, from imperialism and colonialism to the poet’s utopian politics, his ideas about community-building and audience, his secularism, and his transnationalism. In the second part, contributors apply recent methodological and theoretical advances that have left a prominent mark on literary studies but not yet on Stevens scholarship. These include world literature, ecocriticism, urban studies, queer studies, intersectional thinking, and cognitive literary studies. Contributions to the final part reassess and deepen our understanding of issues that have long inspired critics. Here investigations include Stevens’s reception by later poets, his attitude toward modern fiction, different modes of his poetic thinking, aspects of his rhetoric and style, and his lyrical ethics.
Although Wallace Stevens did not travel extensively outside the United States, his poetry is deeply concerned with expanding the boundaries of the poetic imagination to reach beyond its domestic and local settings. The desire to develop a poetics that is capable of establishing new nodes of interconnection between near and far places and cultures is palpable throughout Stevens’s oeuvre. Han’s chapter outlines and explores this aspect of Stevens’s poetry in view of recent theoretical interventions in literary transnationalism and global modernism. It argues that the poet’s exploration of diverse cultural materials and settings interrogates, rather than simply asserts, the border-traversing capacities of the poetic imagination. Stevens’s vision of artistic mobility and travel both displays a transnational aesthetic sensibility and reveals its moments of implosion; it explores at once the possibilities and limits of the imagination’s worldly affiliations and global circuits. The poet’s impulse toward national and cultural border crossings is composed of complex responses to the literary-political currents of his epoch, which range from the specific context of American nativism in the 1920s to more general developments of globalization and the Cold War.
When we think of Wallace Stevens and the question of ecological poetics, we probably are drawn to think of what he called his poetic “mundo”: a poetic universe structured by the turning of the seasons, which themselves correspond to distinct philosophical and phenomenological stances. The world of summer, for example, is a world of fecund imagination creating the world anew, while the world of winter is a world of “decreation” and contraction, a return to “things as they are.” We can get a radically different view of Stevens as an ecological poet, however, if we deploy a concept of environment that is more scientifically contemporary, one that foregrounds the dynamic co-implication and co-production of organism and environment in all its contingency, as highlighted in the contemporary biology of perception and cognition as we find it in figures such as Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. In this light, the ecological dimension of Stevens’s poetry may be located in the fact that his poetics enacts the same “operating program,” with all its attendant paradoxes, of autopoietic living systems, rather than engaging in a representational relationship to what we used to call “nature.”
The New Wallace Stevens Studies introduces a range of fresh voices and promising topics to the study of this great American poet. It is organized into three sections. The first explores concepts that have begun to emerge in Stevens criticism: imperialism and colonialism, his politics of utopia, his ideas about community-building and audience, his secularism, and his transnationalism. The second section applies recent methodological and theoretical advances that have left a prominent mark on literary studies - from world literature and ecocriticism to urban studies, queer studies, intersectional thinking, and cognitive literary studies. Essays in the third section reassess issues that have long inspired critics. Here investigations include Stevens's reception by later poets, his attitude toward modern fiction, different modes of his poetic thinking, aspects of his rhetoric and style, and his lyrical ethics. This volume captures a cross-section of the most striking recent developments in Stevens criticism.