Selected Letters of William Empson

Paperback | November 16, 2008

EditorJohn Haffenden

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This edited collection of letters by William Empson (1906-1984), one of the foremost writers and literary critics of the twentieth century, ranges across the entirety of his career. Parts of the correspondence record the development of ideas that were to come to fruition in seminal textsincluding Seven Types of Ambiguity , The Structure of Complex Words , and Milton's God . The topics of other letters range from Shakespeare's Dark Lady to Marvell's marriage and Byron's bisexuality. Empson relished correspondence that was combative, if not downright aggressive. As a result, parts ofthis edition take the form of a serial disputation with other critics of the period, including Frank Kermode, Helen Gardner, Philip Hobsbaum, and I. A. Richards. Other notable correspondents include A. Alvarez, Bonamy Dobr?e, Leslie Fiedler, Graham Hough, C. K. Ogden, George Orwell, Kathleen Raine,John Crowe Ransom, Christopher Ricks, Laura Riding, A. L. Rowse, Stephen Spender, E. M. W. Tillyard, Rosemond Tuve, John Wain, and G. Wilson Knight.All readers of literary history and criticism will stand to benefit from this edition. Empson is universally credited as the man who 'invented' modern literary criticism, so that all of his writings make a signal addition to the canon of his works. This selection provides a context for theevaluation of Empson's total literary output; and in many letters Empson seeks to defend his ideas against both published and personal attacks. This volume not only fills in all the missing links, it adds up to a completely new volume of critical writings by Empson.

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This edited collection of letters by William Empson (1906-1984), one of the foremost writers and literary critics of the twentieth century, ranges across the entirety of his career. Parts of the correspondence record the development of ideas that were to come to fruition in seminal textsincluding Seven Types of Ambiguity , The Structur...

John Haffenden is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:800 pagesPublished:November 16, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199539863

ISBN - 13:9780199539864

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Table of Contents

1. The BBC War2. The War within the BBC3. Chinabound4. Sounding the South: Kenyon College, Summer 19485. Siege and Liberation6. The New China7. Changes in China; and Kenyon Again8. Quitting Communist china9. Final Reckoning: The Affair of Fei Hsiao-t'ung10. 'A Mighty Raspberry': iThe Structure of Complex Words/i11. Homing to Yorkshire12. From Poetry to the Queen13. Menage a Trois14. The Anti-Christian: iMilton's God/i15. 'They think good literature is a tremendous scolding': From Sheffield to Legon16. The Road to Retirement17. Rescuing Donne and Coleridge18. Roamings in Retirement19. iFaustus/i: FinaleAcknowledgementsAbbreviationsIntroductionNote on the textTable of datesList of resipients and datesText of lettersGlossary of namesIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Few critics have done more for poetry than Empson (1906-1984); few have led stranger or more adventurous lives.... Empson's travels make entertaining reading.... The main reason for reading Empson's own writings is to see what he made of the authors he cherished. (He was the best reader Donneever had.)... In an era when readers debate whether poetry matters, it helps to remember a man who defended it, and pursued his own arguments about it, even to the ends of the earth.'New York Times Book Review