The Substance Of Shadow: A Darkening Trope In Poetic History

Hardcover | May 31, 2016

byJohn HollanderEditorKenneth Gross

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John Hollander, poet and scholar, was a master whose work joined luminous learning and imaginative risk. This book, based on the unpublished Clark Lectures Hollander delivered in 1999 at Cambridge University, witnesses his power to shift the horizons of our thinking, as he traces the history of shadow in British and American poetry from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century.

Shadow shows itself here in myriad literary identities, revealing its force as a way of seeing and a form of knowing, as material for fable and parable. Taking up a vast range of texts—from the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton to Poe, Dickinson, Eliot, and Stevens—Hollander describes how metaphors of shadow influence our ideas of dreaming, desire, doubt, and death. These shadows of poetry and prose fiction point to unknown, often fearful domains of human experience, showing us concealed shapes of truth and possibility. Crucially, Hollander explores how shadows in poetic history become things with a strange substance and life of their own: they acquire the power to console, haunt, stalk, wander, threaten, command, and destroy. Shadow speaks, even sings, revealing to us the lost as much as the hidden self.

An extraordinary blend of literary analysis and speculative thought, Hollander’s account of the substance of shadow lays bare the substance of poetry itself.   

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John Hollander, poet and scholar, was a master whose work joined luminous learning and imaginative risk. This book, based on the unpublished Clark Lectures Hollander delivered in 1999 at Cambridge University, witnesses his power to shift the horizons of our thinking, as he traces the history of shadow in British and American poetry fro...

John Hollander (1929–2013) was the Sterling Professor of English at Yale University and the author of more than thirty books of poetry and literary criticism. Kenneth Gross is the Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Rochester. He is the author, most recently, of Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life, als...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.7 inPublished:May 31, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022635427X

ISBN - 13:9780226354279

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“The late John Hollander was an immensely erudite poet-critic whose acute scholarship illuminated the nature of Western poetry and its history. His masterwork The Substance of Shadow completes his life’s work of tracing the images and metaphors of the imagination. Sixty years of conversation with him flood back upon me as I follow his guidance in pursuing poems that are a Great Shadow’s last embellishments.”