Enigmas and Riddles in Literature by Eleanor CookEnigmas and Riddles in Literature by Eleanor Cook

Enigmas and Riddles in Literature

byEleanor Cook

Paperback | November 26, 2009

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How do enigmas and riddles work in literature? This benchmark study investigates the literary trope of the riddle, and its relation to the broader term 'enigma', including enigma as large masterplot. Cook argues for a revival of the old figure of speech known as 'enigma' from Aristotle to the seventeenth century by demonstrating its usefulness. The opening chapter surveys 'enigma personified' as sphinx and griffin, resuscitating a lost Graeco-Latin pun on 'griffin' used by Lewis Carroll. The history and functions of enigma draw on classical and biblical through to modern writing. Wide-ranging examples concentrate on literature in English, especially modern poetry, with three detailed case studies on Dante, Lewis Carroll, and Wallace Stevens. An important contribution to studies of poetic thought and metaphor, this anatomy of the riddle will appeal particularly to readers and scholars of poetry, modern American and comparative literatures, rhetoric, and folk-riddles.
Title:Enigmas and Riddles in LiteratureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 9.02 × 5.98 × 0.71 inPublished:November 26, 2009Publisher:Cambridge University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0521119898

ISBN - 13:9780521119894

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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Enigma personified: the riddling beasts, Sphinx and griffin; 2. Enigma as trope: history, function, fortunes; 3. What is the shape of the riddle? Enigma as masterplot; 4. Case study I. Enigma in Dante's Eden (Purgatorio 27-33); 5. Questions of riddle and genre; 6. Riddle as scheme: a case for a new griph-class; 7. Case study II. Mapping riddles: Lewis Carroll and the Alice books; 8. Figures for enigma; 9. Case study III. The structure of reality: enigma in Wallace Steven's later work; 10. From protection to innocent amusement: some other functions of enigma; Afterword: enigma, the boundary figure; Appendix: Enigma, riddle and friends among the lexicographers.

Editorial Reviews

". . . a brilliant chapter on Lewis Carroll and the Alice books. . . . A useful new (or old) coinage, griph (as in logogriph), is proposed for such pastime puzzles, which might be useful in particular for those interested in children's games. There is another section covering 'innocent amusement' and 'other functions of enigma' that is also of direct relevance to folklorists. . . . A short review cannot do justice to the meticulous scholarship of this work." -Katherine Knight, Folklore