The Poetics of Personification

The Poetics of Personification

4.33 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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Literary personification has long been taken for granted as an important aspect of Western narrative; Paul de Man has given it still greater prominence as 'the master trope of poetic discourse'. James Paxson here offers a much-needed critical and theoretical appraisal of personification in the light of poststructuralist thought and theory. The poetics of personification provides a historical reassessment of early theories, together with a sustained account of how literary personification works through an examination of narratological and semiotic codes and structures in the allegorical texts of Prudentius, Chaucer, Langland and Spenser. The device turns out to be anything but an aberration, oddity or barbarism, from ancient, medieval or early modern literature. Rather, it works as a complex artistic tool for revealing and advertising the problems and limits inherent in narration in particular and poetic or verbal creation in general.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 13mm | 290g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reissue
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 0521106311
  • 9780521106313
  • 1,746,263

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. A history of personification theory; 2. Towards a taxonomy of tropes; 3. Narrative level, personification, and character ontology in Prudentius' Psychomachia; 4. A phenomenology of personification; 5. Personification, dreams, and narrative structure in Piers Plowman B; 6. Narrating the personification of personification in The Faerie Queene; Conclusion; Taxonomy II and future directions in personification theory; Notes; Works cited; Index.
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Review quote

"...I am delighted to have read and to suggest you read The Poetics of Personification, by James J. Paxson." Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance "Throughout he demonstrates an exhilarating rigor of argumentation based on a breadth of reading that I find rare in current theoretical writing....I think it is to his credit that he can argue as clearly and forcefully as he does in a field so dense with conceptual and verbal obstacles and tangles." R.A. Shoaf, Style "...a brave attempt to 'rehabilitate' this pervasive trope in the light of post-structuralist literary theory." Craig R. Davis, Speculum " reader thinking about personification in the Renaissance can afford to ignore Paxson's work." Studies in English Literature "Paxson concedes the ahistoricizing tendencies of his poetics in his final chapter, which contains a short, provocative meditation on some of the questions one might ask about the cultural contexts from which the texts that make extensive use of personification arise....Paxson's close readings of particular allegorical texts are always interesting." Clare Kinney, Studies in the Age of Chaucer
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