Melodious Guile

Fictive Pattern in Poetic Language

John Hollander

View Inside Price: $27.00


July 25, 1990
272 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300049046
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

Demonstrating a poet’s imaginative ear and a critic’s range of concern, John Hollander here writes about the "melodious guile" with which poetry speaks to us. Through analysis of formal and rhetorical patterns in examples chosen from the whole spectrum of English and American poetry, Hollander describes how poems form self-reflexive parable in order to represent realms beyond themselves.
"As astute a book about poetry as anyone has produced in the last five years."—David Lehman, Newsday
"A lively and enlivening work of criticism."—Library Journal
"Hollander, himself a fine poet, is such a generalist; and Melodious Guile, to my mind the best of his critical books, takes its place . . . among the very few enjoyable and enriching studies of how poetry works."—Alastair Fowler, London Review of Books
"An incisive display of beautifully integrated erudition. John Hollander demonstrates, just as post-structuralism is waning, that there are other, more cogent theoretical terms for thinking about poetry and for a return to the reading of poetry."—Robert Alter, University of California, Berkeley
Nominated for a 1988 National Book Circle Award in Criticism

"What Hollander persuasively argues, with an almost dizzying range of allusion, is that poems frame parables about themselves; as such, poems are `wiser’ than their authors. . . . This is `close reading’ with a vengeance, and it is exhilarating. . . . With limited space one can hardly do justice to a book as rhetorically complex as Melodius Guile. Suffice it to say that this distinguished work of criticism can profitably be read by anyone interested in poetry or poetics."—Jay Parini, Sewanee Review

"John Hollander, himself a fine poet, is such a generalist; and Melodious Guile, to my mind the best of his critical books, takes its place—along with Donald Davie’s Articulate Energy and Winifred Nowottny’s The Language Poets Use--among the very few enjoyable and enriching studies of how poetry works."—Alastair Fowler, London Review of Books

"[Hollander] has at his easy grasp the power of subtle observation on the whole nature of poetry and the world."—Choice

"Hollander makes good on his claim to show the melodiousness of the poet’s guile. His book is truly a wonder, not only in the inventiveness of his schemes, but also in the immense range of his scholarship and the depth of his probing into those variegated patterns of ad hoc tropes—the turnings and fashionings of many of the greatest poets of English and Classical literature. In its breadth of scholarship and the intricate detail of many of its readings, it will be an education for the scholar of verse and the budding poet."—James Mellard, Style

"A lively and enlivening work of criticism."—Library Journal

"As astute a book about poetry as anyone has produced in the last five years."—David Lehman, New York Newsday

"Closely reasoned yet engagingly written, he explores poetical uses of language, and more tropes than most people have ever heard of."—Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

"An incisive display of beautifully integrated erudition. John Hollander demonstrates, just as post-structuralism is waning, that there are other, more cogent theoretical terms for thinking about poetry and for a return to the reading of poetry."—Robert Alter, University of California, Berkeley

"An absolutely splendid book. Hollander as usual displays an unparalleled grasp of poetic subtleties. As a fine poet in his own right he speaks of the art with a special authority, and as a wit he is often fun to read just for the way he says things."—Angus Fletcher, The Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York

"In this sumptuous book, beautifully written, we follow Bill Burt on his pilgrimage to discover hidden treasures within marshes across the breadth of North America. . . . Burt's exquisite photos of the Crane Lake marsh near sunset, and of the Pied-billed, Western and Eared Grebes, each with young, rank with the best anywhere. . . Buy it, read it, admire it, savor it. It would be a perfect gift for any naturalist, any wildlife photographer, anyone who loves our remaining marshes."—C. Stuart Houston, Blue Jay

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