Poetry and Freedom: Discoveries in Aesthetics, 1985–2018 

Poetry and Freedom: Discoveries in Aesthetics, 1985–2018 

By Paul Oppenheimer

Anthem Studies in South Asian Literature, Aesthetics and Culture

This book offers a ground-breaking exploration of the aesthetics of poetic freedom, from antiquity to the present and from Europe and the Middle East into the poetry of the English-speaking world. Questions about the elusiveness of poetic freedom are tested vis-à-vis the works of Whitman, Dickinson, Rilke, Dante and Virgil that result in a fresh, and well-nigh revolutionary, way of seeing literary and modern history, or an initiation into the more striking gift of aesthetic freedom.

Paperback, 224 Pages

ISBN:9781839981784

September 2021

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

This book offers a ground-breaking exploration of the aesthetics of poetic freedom. The range is broad, from antiquity to the present and from Europe and the Middle East into the poetry of the English-speaking world. Silent reading is shown as developing for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire into a fashionable way of reading, starting with the invention of the sonnet in the High Middle Ages. The social use of the word “we,” as when a society generalizes about itself, first appears in poetry in T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” In Goethe’s “Roman Elegies” anachronism becomes a literary device—also, it seems, for the first time—introducing a novel timelessness essential to modern affirmations of infinity.

Revealing questions about the elusiveness of poetic freedom—what does the term actually mean?—are repeatedly tested against the accomplishments of major poets such as Whitman, Dickinson, Rilke, Dante and Virgil, and their public yet intensely private originality. The result is a fresh, and well-nigh revolutionary, way of seeing literary and modern history, or an initiation into the more striking gift of aesthetic freedom.

Reviews

“Paul Oppenheimer is an eclectic and lively scholar and thinker. His collection of essays Poetry and Freedom: Discoveries in Aesthetics, 1985–2018 is a lucid, readable and exciting manuscript. It reflects a sophisticated and deep understanding of poetry across eras and civilizations, from surrealism to the medieval lyric, from Eliot to Goethe, from Virgil to Josephine Jacobsen, and an interesting selection of contemporary poets including D. Nurkse, Marie Ponsot and Diane Wakoski. The book is a rare pleasure to read, offering the insights of a truly original mind in clear and passionate prose. A new essay revisiting Oppenheimer’s groundbreaking work on the sonnet lends the volume additional importance.” —Annie Finch, Author of The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse; Co-author of An Exultation of Forms and New Formal Poets; and Professor of English, University of Southern Maine, USA

Author Information

Paul Oppenheimer is a professor of comparative literature and english at The City College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Series

Anthem Studies in South Asian Literature, Aesthetics and Culture

Table of Contents

Preface: Among the Nightmare Lovers of Hades; 1 Eliot as Revolutionary; 2 Goethe and Modernism: The Dream of Anachronism in Goethe’s Roman Elegies; 3 Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano; 4 Does Time Exist?; 5 The Age of Authenticity: An American Poet in England; 6 Whitman and Wilde in Camden; 7 Dangerous Thoughts, Puzzling Responses; 8 Scaling the Wall; 9 Mass Death and Resurrection: Notes on Contemporary, Mostly American, Jewish Fiction; 10 Rilke, Einstein, Freud and the Orpheus Mystery; 11 Shrouds Aplenty (on poems of Janowitz, et al); 12 Ambushes of Amazement (on poems of Wakoski); 13 Dangerous and Steep (on poems of Jacobsen); 14 Small Touching Skill (on poems of Ponsot); 15 Language Mesh (on Paul Celan); 16 Sweet Extra (on poems of Cuddihy, Ray); 17 Maze of the Original (on translating poetry); 18 Approaching the Medieval Lyric; 19 Dark Passage (on poems of Stafford); 20 Mistress of Sorrows (on Ingeborg Bachmann); 21 The Innocence of a Mirror (on poems of Oliver); 22 Peskily Written (on Sade); 23 Is There Sex after Sappho?; 24 Saving One’s Skin (on medieval poetry); 25 Brilliant White Shadow (on poems and prose of Saba); 26 Serpent’s Tale (on Minoan archeology); 27 How Honest Was Cellini?; 28 The Poetry of No Compromises (on poems of Rehder); 29 Assigning Names (on poems of Nurkse); 30 History and Ethics: Bruni’s History of Florence; 31 Virgil’s Aeneid Made New (a translation by Robert Fagles); 32 Painting with Poetry (on the poems of Annie Boutelle); 33 Vampires and Freedom (on the work of Erik Butler); 34 How the West Learned to Read and Write: Silent Reading and the Invention of the Sonnet; List of Publications; Index.

Links

No Podcasts for this title.

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