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Quantum Poetics: Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and the Science of Modernism Hardcover – January 28, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0521573054 ISBN-10: 052157305X Edition: First Edition

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Editorial Reviews


"Albright presents an insightful and delightful study of the relationship between physics and poetry in the first half of the 20th century....Like all good studies, this one stimulates a desire to reread familiar material with new energy." R.T. Prus, Choice

"QUantun Poetics...takes modernism seriously and regards the attempt to define modernism across the arts as something worth doing. I recommend Quantum Poetics to you." Reed Way Dasenbrock, American Literature

"For an engagingly written introduction to the modernist struggle to reconcile the fluid nature of experience with a belief in consistent truths,...turn to the deft close readings in Quantum Poetics ." Suzanne Shimek, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920

"Albright's interpretations of Eliot are...brilliant, and his fresh and penetrating writing, along with his mastery of modernism, will lead readers to radical revisons of their own familiar perceptions of Eliot's wastelands and regenerations. Indeed, the virtue of Quantum Poetics is precisely this power of exciting the reader to return to and look in new ways at some well-traversed terrain." William Gorski, Isis

Book Description

Quantum Poetics examines the modernist appropriation of scientific metaphors as part of a general search for the pre-verbal origins of poetry. The poetic possibilities offered by developments in scientific discourse intrigued Yeats, Eliot and Pound, writers intent on remapping the general theory of poetry. Using models supplied by physicists, Yeats' sought for the basic units of poetic force, both through his sequence A Vision and through his belief in, and defence of, the purity of symbols. Daniel Albright demonstrates how Modernists created a whole new way of thinking about poetry and science as two different aspects of the same quest.

More About the Author

I teach in the Music Department as well as the English and Comparative Literature Departments of Harvard University.  I'm particularly interested in the ways in which artistic media-poetry, music, painting-interact with one another; in 2000, my book Untwisting the Serpent: Music, Literature, and the Visual Arts won the Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship.  At Harvard I teach two Core Curriculum courses: the first called Putting Modernism Together, which studies (for example) Impressionism through works by Monet, Debussy, and Joseph Conrad, or Surrealism through works by Apollinaire, Stravinsky, and Magritte; the second is The History of the English Language. I also teach courses on opera, drama, Victorian and Modernist poetry and fiction, and the relation of physics to literature.

I enjoy scuba diving and cooking simple French recipes, though not at the same time. I love travel, and on my recent sabbatical year (2012-2013), in addition to being a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, I managed to chalk up travels to 19 different countries, giving a lecture series in Shanghai, and talks in Seoul, Berlin, Heidelberg, as well as on a ship full of Harvard Alumni somewhere off the coast of Scotland!

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