By Angela Leighton
What's shape? Why does shape subject? during this ingenious and impressive research, Angela Leighton assesses not just the legacy of Victorian aestheticism, and its richly inventive key-phrase, 'form', but additionally the very nature of the literary. She exhibits how writers, for 2 centuries and extra, have lower back to the belief of shape as whatever which includes the key of paintings itself. She tracks the improvement of the be aware 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 one most vital approach of accounting for the events of literary language itself. She investigates, for example, the outdated debate of shape and content material, of shape as track or sound-shape, because the ghostly dynamic and dynamics of a textual content, in addition to its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 creative 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 resolution and convey.
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Additional resources for On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word
In its creation he lines a line of descent from the ‘revolutionary importance’²³ of the Mona Lisa passage to ‘a poetry, a philosophy, the place the person is not anything, the ﬂux of The Cantos of Ezra Pound’. ²⁴ It used to be Pater’s rhythm, his wary haltings and deliberations, his counterpointed avoidance of subject material, which nonetheless haunted Yeats. ‘Pater’, he proclaims, ‘was acquainted with supply each one sentence a separate web page of manuscript, keeping apart and analysing its rhythm. ’²⁵ even if unfaithful, the purpose is revealing. It was once no longer the feel however the rhythms of the Mona Lisa passage which Yeats heard and versiﬁed in 1936, emphasizing Pater’s function because the ﬁrst singing-master of the moderns. That nineteenth-century legacy is going again, via Pater, Tennyson, and Hallam, to Keats. whereas Hallam’s essay on Tennyson is an instance, in Yeats’s word, of ‘the Aesthetic School’,²⁶ it truly is Keats, after all, who stands at its head: ‘Keats, who sang of a attractiveness so absolutely preoccupied with itself that its contemplation is one of those lingering trance’. ²⁷ Keats bequeaths to the later poet, as he does to Pater, Woolf, Pound, and Stevens, a observe which by some means by no means loses its delight in. In Autobiographies, for example, Yeats recollects that during Spenser’s islands ‘certain characteristics of good looks, sure sorts of sensuous loveliness have been separated from the entire common reasons of existence’ as they wouldn't be back ‘till Keats wrote his ‘‘Endymion’’ ’. ²⁸ The isolation of ‘beauty’ or ‘loveliness’ from ‘all the final reasons of lifestyles’ is a perfect revived by way of Keats and handed directly to the moderns. ‘Beauty’ is a notice Yeats can't depart on my own. ‘Beauty is the top & legislation of poetry. It exists to ﬁnd the wonder in all issues … & in as far as it rejects attractiveness it destroys ²² W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies, ed. William H. O’Donnell and Douglas N. Archibald (New York: Scribner, 1999), 235. ²³ The Oxford booklet of recent Verse: 1892–1935, selected by means of W. B. Yeats (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936), p. viii. ²⁴ Ibid. p. xxx. ²⁵ Ibid. p. viii. ²⁶ Yeats, Autobiographies, 361. ²⁷ W. B. Yeats, ‘Edmund Spenser’, in Essays and Introductions, 378. ²⁸ Yeats, Autobiographies, 242. Yeats’s ft 151 its correct to exist’,²⁹ he wrote in 1900. He returns to the observe in poems and their titles, as though to a couple self-justifying, entrancing item so one can now not be divested of its crucial magic. From ‘He recalls Forgotten good looks’ (1899) to ‘Beautiful Lofty Things’(1939), the observe issues his writing just like the signal of whatever to be able to certainly no longer be forgotten. to recollect ‘forgotten attractiveness’ properly summarizes modernism’s ambiguous reminiscences of the earlier. what's forgotten has to be remembered back, with an additional will and resolution, as though improving the repressed. Keats, who ﬁrst separated ‘beauty’ from ‘life’, is the stated originator of this aestheticist culture. In 1905, castigating his personal countrymen’s emphasis on political function within the arts, Yeats proclaims that: ‘Art for art’s sake … even if or not it's the artwork of the Ode on a Grecian Urn or of the imaginer of Falstaff, turns out to [the Irish author] a overlook of public accountability.