William Empson: The Critical Achievement

William Empson: The Critical Achievement

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Christopher Norris
Cambridge University Press, 8/4/2009
EAN 9780521118866, ISBN10: 0521118867

Paperback, 336 pages, 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.1 cm
Language: English

William Empson (1906–84) was one of the twentieth century's most distinctive critical voices, and left a profound mark upon Anglo-American literary culture. Published in 1993, this book was the first full study of Empson's literary criticism in its various aspects, taking account of recent developments in critical theory and of Empson's complex - at times deeply antagonistic - attitude towards those developments. In their diversity of viewpoint and critical approach the nine essays reflect this sturdy resistance to fashionable trends of 'Eng. Lit.' opinion. Topics include the relations between Empson and Derrida's approaches to the issue of textual 'undecidability', and Empson's prominent (if unwilling role) in the shaping of English as an academic discourse. Christopher Norris's extended introduction charts the ground and offers a major revaluation of Empson's place in the theoretical tradition.

1. Introduction
Empson as literary theorist
from ambiguity to complex words and beyond Christopher Norris
2. Empsonian honesty and the beginnings of individualism Gary Wihl
3. Empson, Leavis, and the challenge of Milton Willaim E. Cain
4. Empson's Satan
an ambiguous character of the seventh type Paul H. Fry
5. Compacted doctrines
Empson and the meanings of words Alan Durant and Colin MacCabe
6. Figural narrative and plot construction
Empson on pastoral Pamela McCallum
7. More lurid figures
de Man reading Empson Neil Hertz
8. 'Fool' and 'pharmakon' William Righter
9. William Empson's cosmicomiques Jean-Jacques Lecerle
10. Empson as teacher
the Sheffield years Philip Hobsbaum