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William Empson
The Critical Achievement


Christopher Norris, Gary Wihl, William E. Cain, Paul H. Fry, Alan Durant, Colin MacCabe, Pamela McCallum, Neil Hertz, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, William Righter, Philip Hobsbaum
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  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521118866

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About the Authors
  • William Empson (1906–84) was one of the twentieth century's most distinctive critical voices, and left a profound mark upon Anglo-American literary culture. Published in 1993, this book was the first full study of Empson's literary criticism in its various aspects, taking account of recent developments in critical theory and of Empson's complex - at times deeply antagonistic - attitude towards those developments. In their diversity of viewpoint and critical approach the nine essays reflect this sturdy resistance to fashionable trends of 'Eng. Lit.' opinion. Topics include the relations between Empson and Derrida's approaches to the issue of textual 'undecidability', and Empson's prominent (if unwilling role) in the shaping of English as an academic discourse. Christopher Norris's extended introduction charts the ground and offers a major revaluation of Empson's place in the theoretical tradition.

    • First full study, taking account of recent developments in critical theory, of one of the century's greatest critics
    • Nine essays by experts supplemented by a substantial introduction by leading writer on modern theory, Christopher Norris
    • Offers a revaluation of William Empson in relation to other critical traditions and assesses his achievement
    • A diversity of viewpoints is brought to bear upon Empson's work, revealing it in new lights
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521118866
    • length: 336 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: Empson as literary theorist: from ambiguity to complex words and beyond Christopher Norris
    2. Empsonian honesty and the beginnings of individualism Gary Wihl
    3. Empson, Leavis, and the challenge of Milton Willaim E. Cain
    4. Empson's Satan: an ambiguous character of the seventh type Paul H. Fry
    5. Compacted doctrines: Empson and the meanings of words Alan Durant and Colin MacCabe
    6. Figural narrative and plot construction: Empson on pastoral Pamela McCallum
    7. More lurid figures: de Man reading Empson Neil Hertz
    8. 'Fool' and 'pharmakon' William Righter
    9. William Empson's cosmicomiques Jean-Jacques Lecerle
    10. Empson as teacher: the Sheffield years Philip Hobsbaum

  • Editors

    Christopher Norris

    Nigel Mapp


    Christopher Norris, Gary Wihl, William E. Cain, Paul H. Fry, Alan Durant, Colin MacCabe, Pamela McCallum, Neil Hertz, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, William Righter, Philip Hobsbaum

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