On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word

Paperback | September 18, 2008

byAngela Leighton

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What is form? Why does form matter? In this imaginative and ambitious study, Angela Leighton assesses not only the legacy of Victorian aestheticism, and its richly resourceful keyword, 'form', but also the very nature of the literary. She shows how writers, for two centuries and more, havereturned to the idea of form as something which contains the secret of art itself. She tracks the development of the word from the Romantics to contemporary poets, and offers close readings of, among others, Tennyson, Pater, Woolf, Yeats, Stevens, and Plath, to show how form has provided the singlemost important way of accounting for the movements of literary language itself. She investigates, for instance, the old debate of form and content, of form as music or sound-shape, as the ghostly dynamic and dynamics of a text, as well as its long association with the aestheticist principle of being'for nothing'. In a wide-ranging and inventive argument, she suggests that form is the key to the pleasure of the literary text, and that that pleasure is part of what literary criticism itself needs to answer and convey.

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What is form? Why does form matter? In this imaginative and ambitious study, Angela Leighton assesses not only the legacy of Victorian aestheticism, and its richly resourceful keyword, 'form', but also the very nature of the literary. She shows how writers, for two centuries and more, havereturned to the idea of form as something which...

Angela Leighton is Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. She is the author of a number of books, including iShelley and the Sublime/i, iElizabeth Barrett Browning and Victorian Women Poets: Writing Against the Heart/i, as well as many essays on nineteenth and twentieth-century literature.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.58 inPublished:September 18, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199551936

ISBN - 13:9780199551934

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Table of Contents

1. Form's Matter: A Retrospective2. Art for Art: On Pots, Crocks, Lyres, and Flutes3. Touching Forms: Tennyson and Aestheticism4. Aesthetic Conditions: Pater's Re-Forming Style5. Seeing Nothing: Vernon Lee's Ghostly Aesthetics6. Just a Word: On Woolf7. Yeats's Feet8. Wallace Stevens' Eccentric Souvenirs9. W. S. Graham: In the Mind's Ear10. Forms of Elegy: Stevenson, Muldoon, Hill, Fisher11. Elegies of Form: Bishop, Plath, Stevenson12. Nothing, but: An Afterword

Editorial Reviews

`...deft and thoughtful as well as timely... Everything about On Form is judged and poised, with many things read beautifully and truly.'Times Literary Supplement