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The Fourth Dimension of a Poem: and Other Essays 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393058307
ISBN-10: 0393058301
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About the Author

M. H. Abrams (1912―2015) was Class of 1916 Professor of English, Emeritus at Cornell University. He received the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Prize for The Mirror and the Lamp and the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize for Natural Supernaturalism. He is also the author of The Milk of Paradise, A Glossary of Literary Terms, The Correspondent Breeze, and Doing Things with Texts. He is the recipient of Guggenheim, Ford Foundation, and Rockefeller Postwar fellowships, the Award in Humanistic Studies from the Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984), the Distinguished Scholar Award by the Keats-Shelley Society (1987), and the Award for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1990). In 1999 The Mirror and the Lamp was ranked twenty-fifth among the Modern Library's "100 best nonfiction books written in English during the twentieth century."

The Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, Harold Bloom (b. 1930) has been hailed as “one of our greatest living literary critics” (Los Angeles Times).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393058301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393058307
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #970,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
My impression of this book was that it was an unique critique of poetry and language, its beauty, its abuse and its potential to humanity, i.e., to make us more human. The author certainly has an enormous breath and deep familiarity of literature, philosophy, and the omnipresence of the impact of the sciences. Though per the author "the material medium of the poem is speech" we certainly do not speak to each other in this way, though in any constructive exchange there can be harmonious sound. I would conclude that poetry is a medium of theatre, songs and ballads, which immediately comes to mind.

My favorite, though not necessarily easy to grasp, chapters are "What is Humanistic Criticism"; "The Language and Methods of Humanism"; "Kant & the Theology of Art"; and "Spiritual Travelers in the Literature of the West."

"Humanistic Criticism" discusses Derrida (deconstructionism) and Descartes (methodical doubt). To the deconstructionists there are "antagonistic forces inhabiting a text that remain forever locked in the "double-bind" of opposed but unresolvable significations.." However no specific examples are provided, whether to classical, popular or current "open verse" poetry. Descartes, though no poet himself, had to doubt his senses and his world of social activity, and by "doubt" to see this as a necessary tool for an objective science.

"The Language and Methods of Humanism" is explored in comparison with the rigors of science. To the author, "when the humanist commits to a language modeled on science...specific human aspects...elude his linguistic grasp." And in a later chapter (p. 136) "there is a bleak theory world of mechanism & dualism...
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Format: Hardcover
The essay titled "What Is a Humanistic Criticism" is both brilliant & brilliantly amusing in its accurate rendering & gentle minimizing of the trends in literary criticism that began in the '60 & have browbeaten so many PhD students every since.

Am loving this book. Abrams may be 100 years old, but he doesn't appear to have lost a brain cell yet.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Read about it in the NYRB. I found it to be a terrific book and am so pleased I found out about it.
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A brilliant explanation supporting the value of reading aloud poems or parts of them, especially important for teachers of introduction to poetry.
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