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Dreaming by the Book

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Dreaming by the Book explores the almost miraculous processes by which poets and writers teach us the work of imaginative creation. Writers from Homer to Heaney instruct us in the art of mental composition, even as their poems progress. Just as painters understand paint, composers musical instruments, and sculptors stone or metal, verbal artists understand the only material in which their creations will get made--the back-lit tissue of the human brain. In her brilliant synthesis of literary criticism, philosophy, and cognitive psychology, Elaine Scarry explores the principal practices by which writers bring things to life for their readers.

Review:

"Scarry is an anatomist of the imagination, if a dynamic power admits of anatomization. Her book explores how the 'verbal arts' provide so potent a tool for our own imaginings—how the radically uniconic characters of language can manage to provoke so regularly the extremities of presence and, in her terms, solidity, in the mind's eye. But to realize this aim, she must also spend a good deal of time talking about the workings of the imagination, and it is in this discussion that the book's value is revealed. Although at times the book veers toward the precious in its discussions of flowers, cardinals, and various pieces of bric-a-brac, it never becomes precious: her inquisitiveness is too sincere for that. Her method is simple: she watches, with painstaking patience and stillness, before the mind's machinations. Her approach bears some resemblances to Aristotle's, especially in her direct attention to reality rather than sideways glances at her peers in references, though the references are there in apt abundance. Erudite in literature and literary theory, she is almost as adept in cognitive psychology and philosophy. Indeed she has written an appendix to Aristotle, perhaps best entitled De Imaginatione, though I wonder whether it fits better to the end of his De Anima, 'On the Soul,' or his Poetics. Either way, if you would like to think about the processes and offices of the imagination, you will find this book a wondrously generous guide." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)

Synopsis:

Writers from Homer to Heaney instruct readers in the art of mental composition in this exploration of how poets and writers employ the work of imaginative creation.

Synopsis:

"Part reverie, part rhapsody, and lucid analysis throughout."--Robert Fagles, translator of Homer's Iliad

"I finished Dreaming by the Book feeling that fundamental aspects of the nature of consciousness had been peeled open and exposed to view."--Stephen M. Kosslyn, author of Image and Brain

Synopsis:

Dreaming by the Book explores the almost miraculous processes by which poets and writers teach us the work of imaginative creation. Writers from Homer to Heaney instruct us in the art of mental composition, even as their poems progress. Just as painters understand paint, composers musical instruments, and sculptors stone or metal, verbal artists understand the only material in which their creations will get made--the back-lit tissue of the human brain. In her brilliant synthesis of literary criticism, philosophy, and cognitive psychology, Elaine Scarry explores the principal practices by which writers bring things to life for their readers.

About the Author

Elaine Scarry is Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics at Harvard University. Her many writings include On Beauty and Being Just (Princeton) and The Body In Pain (1986).

Table of Contents

PART ONE: Making Pictures

1. On Vivacity 3

2. On Solidity 10

3. The Place of Instruction 31

4. Imagining Flowers 40

PART TWO: Moving Pictures 75

5. First Way: Radiant Ignition 77

6. Second Way: Rarity 89

7. Third Way: Addition and Subtraction 100

8. Fourth Way: Streching, Folding, and Tilting 111

9. Fifth Way: Floral Supposition 158

PART THREE: Repicturing

10. Circling Back 195

11. Skating 206

12. Quickening with Flowers 221

Conclusion: Teaching Made-up Birds to Fly 239

Notes 249

Acknowledgments 275

Index 281

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691070766
Author:
Scarry, Elaine
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton, N.J.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Books and reading
Subject:
Imagination
Subject:
Authors and readers
Subject:
Imagery (psychology)
Subject:
Reader-response criticism
Subject:
Imagination in literature
Subject:
Imagery
Subject:
Regional, Ethnic, Genre, Specific Subject
Subject:
Aesthetics
Subject:
American Language and Literature
Subject:
Comparative Literature
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
History & Criticism *
Subject:
American literature
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Princeton ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
E 591
Publication Date:
March 2001
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8 x 5 in 12 oz

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Related Subjects

Children's » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » Literary and Cultural Studies
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

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Product details 304 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691070766 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Writers from Homer to Heaney instruct readers in the art of mental composition in this exploration of how poets and writers employ the work of imaginative creation.
"Synopsis" by , "Part reverie, part rhapsody, and lucid analysis throughout."--Robert Fagles, translator of Homer's Iliad

"I finished Dreaming by the Book feeling that fundamental aspects of the nature of consciousness had been peeled open and exposed to view."--Stephen M. Kosslyn, author of Image and Brain

"Synopsis" by , Dreaming by the Book explores the almost miraculous processes by which poets and writers teach us the work of imaginative creation. Writers from Homer to Heaney instruct us in the art of mental composition, even as their poems progress. Just as painters understand paint, composers musical instruments, and sculptors stone or metal, verbal artists understand the only material in which their creations will get made--the back-lit tissue of the human brain. In her brilliant synthesis of literary criticism, philosophy, and cognitive psychology, Elaine Scarry explores the principal practices by which writers bring things to life for their readers.
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