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The Fourth Dimension of a Poem: And Other Essaysby M. H. Abrams
Synopses & Reviews
In the year of his one-hundredth birthday, preeminent literary critic, scholar, and teacher M. H. Abrams brings us a collection of nine new and recent essays that challenge the reader to think about poetry in new ways. In these essays, three of them never before published, Abrams engages afresh with pivotal figures in intellectual and literary history, among them Kant, Keats, and Hazlitt. The centerpiece of the volume is Abrams's eloquent and incisive essay "The Fourth Dimension of a Poem" on the pleasure of reading poems aloud, accompanied by online recordings of Abrams's revelatory readings of poems such as William Wordsworth's "Surprised by Joy," Alfred Tennyson's "Here Sleeps the Crimson Petal," and Ernest Dowson's "Cynara." The collection begins with a foreword by Abrams's former student Harold Bloom.
"With 'a stubborn predilection for finding out what a poem determinately means,' renowned 100-year-old scholar Abrams (The Mirror and the Lamp) explores a variety of literary subjects in this insightful new collection, which includes studies of Keats and Hazlitt, the foundations of modern aesthetics, the state of literary humanism, and the titular 'fourth dimension' of a poem, defined as 'the activity of enunciating the great variety of speech-sounds that constitute its words.' Abrams's general stance in these essays is humanistic, maintaining that literature is 'composed by a human being, for human beings, and about human beings.' His style reflects his attitude. Using 'the ordinary language that has been developed... to deal with... the human predicament,' Abrams conveys his deep love and understanding of literature to a general audience with reasoned expositions and close readings. The title essay is especially noteworthy, as is 'How to Prove an Interpretation,' an investigation into the hermeneutic process that doubles as a concise essay on how to read well. This volume is not only a worthy production by one of the great scholars of his generation, but a penetrating contribution to 'the unceasing, diverse, and unpredictable dialogue... of readers with literary works and of readers with each other.' "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A new collection of essays by the legendary literary scholar and critic.
About the Author
M. H. Abrams (Ph.D. Harvard) is Class of 1916 Professor of English, Emeritus at Cornell University. He received the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Prize for The Mirror and the Lamp and the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize for Natural Supernaturalism. He is also the author of The Milk of Paradise, A Glossary of Literary Terms, The Correspondent Breeze, and Doing Things with Texts. He is the recipient of Guggenheim, Ford Foundation, and Rockefeller Postwar fellowships, the Award in Humanistic Studies from the Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984), the Distinguished Scholar Award by the Keats-Shelley Society (1987), and the Award for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1990). In 1999 The Mirror and the Lamp was ranked twenty-fifth among the Modern Library's "100 best nonfiction books written in English during the twentieth century."The Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, Harold Bloom (b. 1930) has been hailed as "one of our greatest living literary critics" (Los Angeles Times).
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Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays