Theory of the Lyric

Theory of the Lyric

4.35 (39 ratings by Goodreads)
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What sort of thing is a lyric poem? An intense expression of subjective experience? The fictive speech of a specifiable persona? Theory of the Lyric reveals the limitations of these two conceptions of the lyric--the older Romantic model and the modern conception that has come to dominate the study of poetry--both of which neglect what is most striking and compelling in the lyric and falsify the long and rich tradition of the lyric in the West. Jonathan Culler explores alternative conceptions offered by this tradition, such as public discourse made authoritative by its rhythmical structures, and he constructs a more capacious model of the lyric that will help readers appreciate its range of possibilities.

"Theory of the Lyric brings Culler's own earlier, more scattered interventions together with an eclectic selection from others' work in service to what he identifies as a dominant need of the critical and pedagogical present: turning readers' attention to lyric poems as verbal events, not fictions of impersonated speech. His fine, nuanced readings of particular poems and kinds of poems are crucial to his arguments. His observations on the workings of aspects of lyric across multiple different structures are the real strength of the book. It is a work of practical criticism that opens speculative vistas for poetics but always returns to poems."
--Elizabeth Helsinger, Critical Theory
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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 160 x 230 x 27.94mm | 598.74g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 2 line illustrations
  • 0674979702
  • 9780674979703
  • 26,677

Review quote

A capacious and important piece of work. We need someone with the courage to take the broad view, across epochs and Western languages, and Culler is that person. Theory of the Lyric is a crucial intervention in restoring the vibrancy and significance of lyric.--Jahan Ramazani, author of Poetry and Its Others: News, Prayer, Song, and the Dialogue of Genres Jonathan Culler's book is literally long-awaited--it is the culminating work of one of the most important poeticians of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.--Simon Jarvis, author of Wordsworth's Philosophic Song Theory of the Lyric, by Culler, is an excellent source for understanding the academics and history of the lyric poem... It will be most appreciated by scholars seeking to understand the structure of this genre of poetry.--K. Gale"Choice" (11/01/2015) How interesting, how convincing, and how disturbing to received ideas are the features to which Culler draws our attention? How useful or how provocative--for poetry, for thought, and for Theory--are his speculations on the forms and conditions of poetic meaning to which these observations lead? Theory of the Lyric brings Culler's own earlier, more scattered interventions together with an eclectic selection from others' work in service to what he identifies as a dominant need of the critical and pedagogical present: turning readers' attention to lyric poems as verbal events, not fictions of impersonated speech. His fine, nuanced readings of particular poems and kinds of poems are crucial to his arguments. His observations on the workings of aspects of lyric across multiple different structures are the real strength of the book. It is a work of practical criticism that opens speculative vistas for poetics but always returns to poems.--Elizabeth Helsinger"Critical Theory" (04/01/2016)
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About Jonathan Culler

Jonathan Culler is Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cornell University.
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Rating details

39 ratings
4.35 out of 5 stars
5 51% (20)
4 38% (15)
3 8% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 3% (1)
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