Strange Power of Speech

Strange Power of Speech : Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Literary Possession

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Eilenberg's subject is the relationship between tropes of literary property and signification in the writings and literary politics of Wordsworth and Coleridge. She argues that a complex of ideas about property, propriety, and possession informs the images of literary authority, textual identity, and poetic figuration found in the two writers' major work. During the period of their closest collaboration as well as at points later in their careers, Wordsworth and Coleridge took as their primary material the images of property and propriety upon which definitions of meaning and figuration have traditionally depended, grounding these images in writings about landed and spiritual property, material and intellectual theft, dispossession by banks and possession by demons. The writings and the politics generated by the literalization of such images can be read as allegorical of the structures and processes of signification. Each such gesture addresses in some way the fundamental question - who owns language, or who controls meaning?
Eilenberg's approach brings to bear a combination of deconstructive, psychoanalytic, and both new and literary historical methods to provide a deeper understanding of the relationship between two of the major figures of English Romanticism as well as fresh insight into what is at stake in the analogy between the verbal and the material or the literary and the economic.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 300 pages
  • 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm | 716.61g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195068564
  • 9780195068566

Review quote

'Eilenberg writes intelligently and persuasively about Wordsworth's and Coleridge's differing attitudes to language, property, possession, originality, authority ... The arguments Eilenberg marshals in defence of this link are complex, subtle, learned, and powerfully expressed (in language largely free of jargon).'
Times Literary Supplement `Eilenberg's well-written, clever book shares the recent fashionable interest in poetry's social dimension. She is an imaginative, discriminating reader of poetry.'
London Review of Books
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