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Encyclopedia of Literature and Criticism by Martin Coyle, Peter Garside, Malcolm Kelsall, John Peck

By Martin Coyle, Peter Garside, Malcolm Kelsall, John Peck

This Encyclopedia is the main accomplished advisor but either to the character and content material of literature, and to literary feedback. In 90 essays via major foreign critics and students, the amount covers either conventional issues similar to literature and historical past, poetry, drama and the radical, and likewise more moderen subject matters akin to the creation and reception of literature. present serious principles are basically and provocatively mentioned, whereas the volume's association displays in a dynamic approach the wealthy variety of up to date pondering literature.Each essay seeks to supply the reader with a transparent feel of the total value of its topic in addition to tips on extra reading.An crucial paintings of reference, The Encyclopedia of Literature and feedback is a stimulating advisor to the important preoccupations of latest serious pondering literature.Special beneficial properties* sincerely written via students and critics of foreign status for readers in any respect degrees in lots of disciplines* In-depth essays protecting all elements, conventional and new, of literary stories earlier and current* valuable cross-references in the textual content, with complete bibliographical references and recommendations for additional examining* unmarried index of authors, phrases, issues

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Graff makes a closely related point when he discusses Kermode’s argument (in The Sense of an Ending, 1969) that ‘fictions’ are the only means we possess of interpreting experience, explaining events, or imposing some provisional order of sense upon the otherwise chaotic and disparate mass of historical data. The trouble with this argument, he suggests, is that it collapses the difference between story-telling interests—which may indeed articulate our deep desire for narrative consistency and shape—and those other kinds of interest (cognitive or critical) which allow us to hold out against delusory or mystified forms of understanding.

Thus if the book has any ordering principle, Empson writes, it is the progress through stages of ‘increasing logical and psychological complication’, to the point where ‘ambiguity’ is a term hardly adequate to convey the clash of contradictory beliefs or value-systems (p. 184). The most striking example is Empson’s treatment of Herbert’s ‘The Sacrifice’ (pp. 226–33), a passage that has also given maximum offence to critics of an orthodox (Christian or scholarly) mind. But what Empson found so disturbing in retrospect was the way that Seven Types had been taken up as a primer or source-text for the kind of rhetorical close-reading that identified ‘paradox’ as the chief value and distinguishing mark of poetic language in general.

But no matter how extreme these localized points of disagreement, they are still conceived as taking place against a background of communal values and beliefs, an ongoing dialogue that sets the terms for meaningful interpretative debate. For Spinoza, on the contrary, truth was what resisted all such attempts to make sense of scripture through a sequence of endless hermeneutical revisions, a process of adjustment by which problematic passages could be brought into line with the needs of present understanding.

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