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Theory of the Lyric


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


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)
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
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
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.-- (04/01/2016)

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