Contemporary Literary Theory and the Reading of Poetry by David Buchbinder

By David Buchbinder

Addresses the explicit query of ways specific theories produce convinced types of readings of poems. This booklet deals an advent to literary idea and its relation to the examine of poetry, overlaying a basic dialogue of poetry and concept, new feedback, structuralism, deconstruction, Russian formalism and poetry and background. there's additionally a bit on poetry and gender, contributions by way of Barbara Milech. Following an creation to every of those parts, a poem is taken into account within the gentle of every specific severe technique. This ebook is aimed in particular at undergraduate and postgraduate scholars, additional schooling and A-level scholars and tutors.

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These may coincide with those of the real poet: but it is not necessary to know whether they do or not in order to make sense of the text. Thus, though Robert Browning may be speaking in and for himself in his poem 'Home-Thoughts, From Abroad', in which the speaker, away from England, nostalgically thinks about spring in his home country, he clearly does not speak in his own voice in 'My Last Duchess': to assume that it is Browning who speaks in the latter poem would be to ignore the fact that the poet was a nineteenth-century Englishman who eloped with the woman he loved and who was to be his wife, and to put in his place the sinister and fantastic figure of the High Renaissance Duke of Ferrara, who, having had his previous duchess murdered, now negotiates for a new bride.

The problem has to be faced, and it is not an easy one. (236) This, argues Brooks, means that the readff must deal with poems of other times in the same way as with poems of other languages: in other words, the reader must accept a degree of 'translation' in order to make sense of the text. The danger in the strongly historical approach for the New Critics, however, is that we might 'identify the "poetry" with certain doctrines or with certain emotional effects which automatically proceed from a certain historical conditioning' (236).

Any already existing dislocations of this kind, of course, will then be foregrounded and emphasised. Thus, the poet creates the poem which generates the speaking identity or persona. This speaker appears to utter the text which is to be read. The actual reader produces two reading personae. One is that of the ideal reader, the one imagined by the poet as receiving the poetic text. This reader is aware of the structures and strategies operating in the text. The other reading persona is that of the apparent addressee of the utterance, the person to whom the speaker is talking, and who in general is more naive and 'innocent' than the ideal reader persona.

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