Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

"Fundamentals of the Art of Poetry" by Oscar Mandel (Sheffield Academic Press, 1998)

Pages 18-74 are about Art in General, without taking into account bluffers, sociology, or psychological approaches. The second part of the book about the Art of Poetry (p.76-190) deals with Sound, Metaphor, Irony, etc, and is more successful. Perhaps it should have started the book. It goes as far as considering why poets suppress words and punctuation, and why readers find poems hard. It offers many examples but few surprizes or insights. The nearest he goes to controversy is to suggest that Keats' "The poetry of earth is ceasing never" is "a dismal failure" (p.205), and that poems can lack rhyme, meter, image, etc but not line-breaks. Here are a few quotes -

  • "Poetry is the branch of Literature whose words and related signs are preponderantly delivered (when written down or printed) in premeditated limited quanta", p.80
  • "A prose poem is like a well-dressed nude, a square circle, or a 41-line sonnet", p.86
  • "when we study the poetic history of any given nation, we quickly discover that there are years, and even decades, of poetic productivity from which nothing is prized any longer", p.191
  • "As far as this book is concerned, 'true' means nothing more arduous than 'seems true to the reader'", p.168

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