Lyric Poetry: The Pain and the Pleasure of Words

Princeton University Press
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Lyric poetry has long been regarded as the intensely private, emotional expression of individuals, powerful precisely because it draws readers into personal worlds. But who, exactly, is the "I" in a lyric poem, and how is it created? In Lyric Poetry, Mutlu Blasing argues that the individual in a lyric is only a virtual entity and that lyric poetry takes its power from the public, emotional power of language itself.

In the first major new theory of the lyric to be put forward in decades, Blasing proposes that lyric poetry is a public discourse deeply rooted in the mother tongue. She looks to poetic, linguistic, and psychoanalytic theory to help unravel the intricate historical processes that generate speaking subjects, and concludes that lyric forms convey both personal and communal emotional histories in language. Focusing on the work of such diverse twentieth-century American poets as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Sexton, Blasing demonstrates the ways that the lyric "I" speaks, from first to last, as a creation of poetic language.

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About the author

Mutlu Konuk Blasing is Professor of English at Brown University. She is the author of The Art of Life, American Poetry, and Politics and Form in Postmodern Poetry.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 10, 2009
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9781400827411
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Poetry
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Autobiographical literature especially reveals the processes by which writers convert their own historical experience into fictional form and suggests how literary forms function in life. This volume defines an original theory of autobiographical writing and provides intriguing analyses of major American works of literature.

The Art of Life examines the transformation of history into literature in Walden, "Song of Myself," Henry James's Prefaces, The Education of Henry Adams, Paterson, and the poetry of Frank O'Hara. These works are approached as events in themselves and are analyzed as conversions of form and history, fiction and fact, and even aesthetics and politics. Thus the work of literature is set in the total experience of living, and the writer is seen not only as an artist but also as a person in a historical, political, and cultural environment. As well as a creator of literature, the writer is viewed as a social, psychological, and biological being.

Chapters on the narcissistic economy of Walden, the mythicizing of history and personality in "Song of Myself," the self-conscious relation that makes the Prefaces of Henry James the autobiography of an artist. the comic perspective of The Education of Henry Adams, and the radical innovation of Paterson and O'Hara's poetry provide new readings of major American works. Each chapter contains some distinct critical insight which not only contributes to, but can be relished apart from, the book's overarching theoretical argument.

The Art of Life is a sophisticated theoretical discussion of autobiography with rich psychological, philosophical, and cultural ramifications.

Autobiographical literature especially reveals the processes by which writers convert their own historical experience into fictional form and suggests how literary forms function in life. This volume defines an original theory of autobiographical writing and provides intriguing analyses of major American works of literature.

The Art of Life examines the transformation of history into literature in Walden, "Song of Myself," Henry James's Prefaces, The Education of Henry Adams, Paterson, and the poetry of Frank O'Hara. These works are approached as events in themselves and are analyzed as conversions of form and history, fiction and fact, and even aesthetics and politics. Thus the work of literature is set in the total experience of living, and the writer is seen not only as an artist but also as a person in a historical, political, and cultural environment. As well as a creator of literature, the writer is viewed as a social, psychological, and biological being.

Chapters on the narcissistic economy of Walden, the mythicizing of history and personality in "Song of Myself," the self-conscious relation that makes the Prefaces of Henry James the autobiography of an artist. the comic perspective of The Education of Henry Adams, and the radical innovation of Paterson and O'Hara's poetry provide new readings of major American works. Each chapter contains some distinct critical insight which not only contributes to, but can be relished apart from, the book's overarching theoretical argument.

The Art of Life is a sophisticated theoretical discussion of autobiography with rich psychological, philosophical, and cultural ramifications.

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