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Reading Modernist Poetry

ISBN: 978-1-4051-6731-4
250 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Reading Modernist Poetry (1405167319) cover image


This essential guide to modernist poetry enables readers to make sense of a literary movement often regarded as difficult and intimidating.
  • Provides close examinations of key poems by T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, and others
  • Considers key techniques employed to orient and disorient the reader, such as diction, rhythm, and allusion
  • Explores the ideological implications of subject matter and the literary forms and structures of modernist poetry
  • Places modernist poetry in relation to its Victorian and Romantic predecessors
  • Encourages readers to engage with the texts and make their own interpretations, moving away from the question of what the poem says in favour of considering the effect of the poem on its reader
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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements.

1 Introduction.

Part I Subject Matter.

2 Reflexivity.

3 Landscapes, Locations, and Texts.

4 Explorations of Consciousness.

Part II Techniques.

5 Interpreting Obscurities, Negotiating Negatives.

6 The Sound of the Poem.

7 Allusion and Quotation.

8 The Language of Modernist Poetry: Diction and Dialogue.

9 Literal and Metaphorical Language.

10 Mythology, Mythography, and Mythopoesis.

11 Who is Speaking?

Part III Form, Structure, and Evaluation.

12 Form.

13 Subjects and Objects in Modernist Lyric.

14 Temporality and Modernist Lyric.

15 The Dramatic Monologue.

16 Modernism, Epic, and the Long Poem.

17 Modernist Endings.

18 Value and Evaluation.


Further Reading.


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Author Information

Michael H. Whitworth is University Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature, and a Tutorial Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He is the author of Einstein?s Wake: Relativity, Metaphor, and Modernist Literature (2001) and Virginia Woolf (2005), and of other articles and chapters on modernist literature. He edited Modernism: A Guide to Criticism (2007), and he is an editor of the Review of English Studies.
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"It is well structured, well researched, clearly written, and full of innovative insights."  (M/C Reviews, September 2010)

"The impressive achievement of Reading Modernist Poetryis that it so accessibly explains the poetry (including Yeats, Eliot, Pound and William Carlos Williams) and the very wide range of theories that have been invoked to account for its complexity. Its method is to start from the basics and then proceed in a common-sense manner, and yet it uses that mode to explain why the poetry rejects common sense and insists on the necessity of difficulty. The end result is not only a book that students will be able to use very fruitfully (and its comprehensive section on 'Further Reading' will also help in this respect) but also a genuine contribution to the criticism of modernist literature."
Ian Gregson, Bangor University

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