On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word

By Angela Leighton

What's shape? Why does shape subject? during this imaginitive and bold research, Angela Leighton assesses not just the legacy of Victorian aestheticism, and its richly imaginitive key-phrase, 'form', but in addition the very nature of the literary. She indicates how writers, for 2 centuries and extra, have again to the assumption of shape as whatever which incorporates the key of artwork itself. She tracks the advance of the note from the Romantics to modern poets, and gives shut readings of, between others, Tennyson, Pater, Woolf, Yeats, Stevens, and Plath, to teach how shape has supplied the only most vital manner of accounting for the events of literary language itself. She investigates, for example, the previous debate of shape and content material, of shape as song or sound-shape, because the ghostly dynamic and dynamics of a textual content, in addition to its lengthy organization with the aestheticist precept of being 'for nothing'. In a wide-ranging and artistic argument, she means that shape is the major to the excitement of the literary textual content, and that that excitement is a part of what literary feedback itself must solution and convey.

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Pater’s Re-forming sort seventy seven a question of aesthetic poetry, aesthetic feedback, aesthetic good looks. The observe, for this reason, indicates anything which transfuses quite simply into different issues. Its outlines are extra permeable than the summary proposal of ‘the aesthetic’, that are arrange to be knocked down, yet one way or the other retains its consistency like every different bogey. it's a touch upon Pater’s very realizing of aesthetics commonly that he avoids either the metaphysical–philosophical reification of ‘the aesthetic’ and the aptitude coterie badge of ‘aestheticism’.

Like a long-legged fly … ’ (618). In each one of those, the visible or highbrow likeness is deserted, and as an alternative there's stream, a pulse or repetition. Yeats nonetheless appears to be like opposing to ‘those vigorous rhythms, as of a guy running’, another rhythm: ‘a tinker’s shuffle’, a circulate ‘to and fro’, the flow of ‘nothing’ or of toes going nowhere, hand brushing up and down. They every one, notwithstanding, implicitly faucet out a beat, as does the imaginary, long-legged fly ‘upon the stream’. That be aware ‘upon’ brings into the poem the contact and pulse of anything so gentle it really is nearly inaudible, yet no longer altogether beside the point.

This is often an apology, however it ⁹³ wooden, Literature and the style of data, 114. ⁹⁴ Walter Pater, Plato and Platonism: a sequence of Lectures (London: Macmillan, 1910; first pub. 1893), 174. ⁹⁵ Ibid. 185. Form’s topic 29 can be a boast. The essay finally leads, to not some extent proved yet an ‘insecurity’ completed. it's the severe style which may, at the one hand, admit uncertainty, subjectivity, conditionalness, whereas additionally, at the different, placing its personal formed shape into play as a part of its subject. In ‘The Essay as Form’, Adorno bargains a quick yet memorable definition of the essay as, certainly, an ‘attempt’, whilst he writes that it really is ‘an goal groping its way’.

It's a figure from heritage and historic time, come again probably on unfinished company; however it is additionally simply an overview, emptied of its physique, whatever the ghost-seer dreads or expects. The impressionable uncertainty of the ghost, disembodied but recalling a physique, empty but jam-packed with itself, provides it an uncanny similarity to the note which additionally top expresses it: shape. What else is the ghost yet a kind, let out from its physique? The 12 months sooner than Richards released his ideas, Lee released her personal paintings of literary feedback: The dealing with of phrases (1923).

Tennyson and Aestheticism sixty one beautiful strains (about touching islands back) convey anything which the flashing rapid sword can't: the experience of actual ‘shock’; actually, the conflict of icebergs less than the outside of the water. Tennyson’s putting of the be aware ‘shock’ on the finish of the road shall we the surprise proceed because the verb hangs, uncertainly, among transitive and intransitive senses. Do those ‘moving isles’ surprise opposed to whatever, or in basic terms surprise, invisibly, in themselves? ‘shock | via evening’ retains either meanings in play.

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