By Angela Leighton
What's shape? Why does shape topic? during this imaginitive and bold learn, Angela Leighton assesses not just the legacy of Victorian aestheticism, and its richly creative key-phrase, 'form', but in addition the very nature of the literary. She exhibits how writers, for 2 centuries and extra, have lower back to the belief of shape as anything which includes the key of artwork itself. She tracks the improvement of the be aware from the Romantics to modern poets, and provides shut readings of, between others, Tennyson, Pater, Woolf, Yeats, Stevens, and Plath, to teach how shape has supplied the one most crucial approach of accounting for the pursuits of literary language itself. She investigates, for example, the outdated debate of shape and content material, of shape as tune or sound-shape, because the ghostly dynamic and dynamics of a textual content, in addition to its lengthy organization with the aestheticist precept of being 'for nothing'. In a wide-ranging and artistic argument, she means that shape is the foremost to the excitement of the literary textual content, and that that excitement is a part of what literary feedback itself must solution and produce.
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Additional resources for On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word
David Henry Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 79. Art for Art 39 the imaginer of Falstaff, seems to [the Irish writer] a neglect of public duty’,³⁶ he announced scornfully. His own preferences were with the opposite of duty, whatever that might be called. ³⁷ In 1951 Forster began a lecture with the uneasy, apologetic confession: ‘I believe in art for art’s sake. ’³⁸ In 1946 the young Larkin worried over ‘disparaging talk about ‘‘Art for Art’s Sake’’ ’, adding with irritation: ‘It annoys me.
But this does not necessarily deny the need for form; it merely deepens its complexity. Form matters in this case, not because it withdraws altogether from ‘content’, but because it ‘tortures’ it. We are back in the ‘Mus´ee des Beaux Arts’, but that may be precisely why, in the serene quiet, we might hear the ‘anguish’ all the more clearly. In Auden’s poem, that brilliant expos´e and defence of aestheticisms of all kinds, the poet forces us to consider the place, art-room or poem-room, where torture is serenely depicted.
Keats’s Grecian urn, like Gautier’s china vase, stands for that artistic difference and indifference which will trouble and intrigue writers for two centuries to come. Beautiful and useless, the urn exists in an empty space. Apart from the chiming adjective ‘Grecian’, it is without context, history, origin, or destination. It is simply there, and the poem takes its shape. A precious exhibit in the ‘Mus´ee des Beaux Arts’, it also carries the clear warning: Do Not Touch. Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness, Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A ﬂowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word by Angela Leighton