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The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry

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A classic that has been widely used by several generations, this book consists of detailed commentaries on ten famous English poems from the Elizabethan period to the present. Index.


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A classic that has been widely used by several generations, this book consists of detailed commentaries on ten famous English poems from the Elizabethan period to the present. Index.

30 review for The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    In my freshman year of college, I remembered reading Brooks' essay on Keats: A Sylvan Historian, I was completely engulfed with Mr. Brooks interpretation of the poem. It gave me a different perspective on how to further analyze Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn. Moreover, when I read the essay, I felt like I was having a conversation with someone who I hoped to emulate one day. Years later, to use a Bloom word, The Well Wrought Urn did not reach the apotheosis of critical writing I remembered reading In my freshman year of college, I remembered reading Brooks' essay on Keats: A Sylvan Historian, I was completely engulfed with Mr. Brooks interpretation of the poem. It gave me a different perspective on how to further analyze Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn. Moreover, when I read the essay, I felt like I was having a conversation with someone who I hoped to emulate one day. Years later, to use a Bloom word, The Well Wrought Urn did not reach the apotheosis of critical writing I remembered reading during my Freshman year. My disappoinment led to my ambivalence in rating this book a 3 or a 4 star, but gave it a four because it is a great introduction to poetry criticism. The collection is a great start for anyone who would like to further their studies in criticism. It gives a close examination of the 10 poems in the collection, and it practices a theme of paradoxical interpretation; although this theme was a bit contrived, the collection was still an elevated criticism of poetry. Also, I enjoyed the rather simple yet fitting definition Mr. Brooks gave of a poet and their occupation, He is rather giving us an insight which preserves the unity of experience and which at its higher and more serious levels, triumphs over the apparently contradictory and conflicting elements of experience by unifying them into a new pattern. Talk about the anxiety of influence.

  2. 5 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    From what I understand, this is sort of the flagship of the close-reading/ new critical movement. As one might guess, it is full of polemical stuff about how one should value a poem as a poem and how one ought to recognize and appreciate the complexity and unity of poems, especially their imagery. That said, the readings of the poems in the book are really strong and help one's appreciation of them, even if they do seem a little-- shall we say-- self-involved. Do I wish I was as smart as Cleanth From what I understand, this is sort of the flagship of the close-reading/ new critical movement. As one might guess, it is full of polemical stuff about how one should value a poem as a poem and how one ought to recognize and appreciate the complexity and unity of poems, especially their imagery. That said, the readings of the poems in the book are really strong and help one's appreciation of them, even if they do seem a little-- shall we say-- self-involved. Do I wish I was as smart as Cleanth Brooks? Very yes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gilbert Wesley Purdy

    One of the finest studies of poetry ever written. The depth of understanding communicated in these 300 pages goes beyond impressive. An essential read even for those who might think that the New Criticism is outdated.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lyle Carating

    i hate this :( :( :( :(

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Read the first essay ("The Language of Paradox," on Donne's "Canonization") on May 21, 2018. "The Language of Paradox" 3: "the language of poetry is the language of paradox"; nod to Chesterton as a master of paradoxes; "paradox is the language appropriate and inevitable to poetry" 10: "Even the most direct and simple poet is forced into paradoxes far more often than we think, if we are sufficiently alive to what he is doing." 11: In Donne's "Canonization," "the poet daringly treats profane love as i Read the first essay ("The Language of Paradox," on Donne's "Canonization") on May 21, 2018. "The Language of Paradox" 3: "the language of poetry is the language of paradox"; nod to Chesterton as a master of paradoxes; "paradox is the language appropriate and inevitable to poetry" 10: "Even the most direct and simple poet is forced into paradoxes far more often than we think, if we are sufficiently alive to what he is doing." 11: In Donne's "Canonization," "the poet daringly treats profane love as if it were divine love"; "Donne takes both love and religion seriously" 17–18: "I submit that the only way by which the poet could say what 'The Canonization' says is by paradox. More direct methods may be tempting, but all of them enfeeble and distort what is to be said. This statement may seem the less surprising when we reflect on how many of the important things which the poet has to say have to be said by means of paradox: most of the language of lovers is such—'The Canonization' is a good example; so is most of the language of religion—[18] 'He who would save his life, must lose it'; 'The last shall be first.' Indeed, almost any insight important enough to warrant a great poem apparently has to be stated in such terms" 18–19: "Coleridge has of course given us the classic description of its [the creative imagination] nature and power. It 'reveals itself in the balance or reconcilement of opposite or discordant qualities: of saneness, with difference; of the general, with the concrete; the idea, with the image; the individual, with the representative; the sense of novelty and freshness, with old [19] and familiar objects; a more than usual state of emotion, with more than usual order'" 20: "If the poet is to be true to his poetry, he must call it [two lovers?] neither two nor one: the paradox is his only solution" "The Heresy of Paraphrase" 212–13: Johnson claimed that Donne and similar poets simply "wished to impress their audience with their cleverness" [Brooks's words, not Johnson's]; "Yet there are better reasons than that of rhetorical vain-glory that have induced poet after poet to choose ambiguity and paradox rather than plain, discursive simplicity. It is not enough for the poet to analyse his experience as the scientist does, breaking it up into parts, distinguishing part from part, classifying the various parts. His task is finally to unify experience. He must return to us the unity of the experience itself as [213] man knows it in his own experience. The poem, if it be a true poem is a simulacrum of reality—in this sense, at least, it is an 'imitation'—by being an experience rather than any mere statement about experience or any mere abstraction from experience. [par. break] Tennyson cannot be content with saying that in memory the poet seems both dead and alive; he must dramatize its life-in-death for us, and his dramatization involves, necessarily, ironic shock and wonder" 213: Keats's "Urn must, in its role as historian, assert that myth is truer than history"

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gui Freitas

    With the advent of New Formalism (Richard Strier, Marjorie Levinson) Cleanth Brooks is ready to be brought off the book shelf and re-considered for the attention which he gives to the poem as an aesthetic object. Of course, the idea of a "self-sufficient" aesthetic object is more of an ideal than a reality (often leading to a neglect of important political and contextual readings of a text), this caricature of critics like Brooks is being slowly and carefully being dismantled. As Strier has poin With the advent of New Formalism (Richard Strier, Marjorie Levinson) Cleanth Brooks is ready to be brought off the book shelf and re-considered for the attention which he gives to the poem as an aesthetic object. Of course, the idea of a "self-sufficient" aesthetic object is more of an ideal than a reality (often leading to a neglect of important political and contextual readings of a text), this caricature of critics like Brooks is being slowly and carefully being dismantled. As Strier has pointed out, the historical enmity between formalists and historicists of various stripes has often been pointless and the best criticism has always combined close attention of the text with the context which informs and moulds it. Brooks makes it clear that the "heresy of paraphrase" is something which everyone from critic to layman alike must be ready to ward. Carrying all the authority of an ecumenical council of old, Brooks makes it clear in no uncertain terms that we shouldn't ask what a poem is "about"? Why? Because such a question reduces the poem and robs it of its very purpose; sure, the 'Wasteland' is in some sense "about" 20th century alienation but if that's what T.S. Eliot wanted to write about an essay, treatise, even a novel would have got to that point in a clearer and more concise way. We don't ask what Mahler's second symphony is "about" and nor should we a poem. Each chapter then carefully considers what it means to think about this "Well Wrought Urn" (an allusion to Donne). An old work of criticism but one, I would argue, which deserves re-visiting and re-incoporation. Brooks offers important ways to think about poetry as a form on its own terms. Perhaps Brooks could have done more to make explicit the interconnectedness of form and context but if we keep that in mind, I think reading him can make our reading of poems all the more penetrating and subtle.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter Crofts

    Like Bloom, Brooks spends a lot of time (wasting yours in the process) grumbling about other aacademics he doesn't agree with. Actually maybe a better term would be, he doesn't like. Both of them are grating at times, petty and obsessed. But, again like Bloom, he offers a lot of very interesting insights into whatever literary text he's looking at. Brooks was one of the leading thinkers of the "New Criticism" movement in literary interpretation. What is basic tenets are will be found in the text. Like Bloom, Brooks spends a lot of time (wasting yours in the process) grumbling about other aacademics he doesn't agree with. Actually maybe a better term would be, he doesn't like. Both of them are grating at times, petty and obsessed. But, again like Bloom, he offers a lot of very interesting insights into whatever literary text he's looking at. Brooks was one of the leading thinkers of the "New Criticism" movement in literary interpretation. What is basic tenets are will be found in the text. It's all rather fish bowl grumbling. I'm outside of the privileged self important halls of academia and I really couldn't careless. I wonder how often such Olympian types get down from the podium and actually try to write something creative themselves. As anyone who labors at it knows, it is a very demanding discipline. These tenured cultural snobs don't make it any easier. So, as you can see, he irritated the heck out of me, as does Bloom, as do all self important critics. But he's also got some very interesting things to say.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Austin

    As far as literary criticism books go, this one was reasonably easy to read. The language is clear, and Brooks doesn't introduce a bunch of unfamiliar terminology that the reader has to spend extra time looking up in order to understand what he's saying. As far as literary criticism books go, this one was reasonably easy to read. The language is clear, and Brooks doesn't introduce a bunch of unfamiliar terminology that the reader has to spend extra time looking up in order to understand what he's saying.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shiyue

    Cleanth Brooks的诗评总是能把我对诗歌的一些拿捏不准的体会一针见血地分析个清透,读他的结构分析总是很愉悦的,因为你能获得自我感官的提升,同时又不会对他引用的文学理论感到生涩。唯一美中不足的是,译者实在是太捉急,诗歌翻译地韵律全无,用词肤浅而“正派”,却少了很多微妙细腻。真是遗憾。

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mahmoud Keshk

    A highly essential study for poetry.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tiago Filipe Clariano

    Desde que li «Mimesis» de Eric Auerbach que tenho vindo a procurar outros "manuais de crítica" literária (encontrei a recente «Viagem pela Literatura Europeia» de Mega Ferreira, que aborda os grandes clássicos), acima de tudo para entender o próprio conceito de crítica e os seus mecanismos. Ao passo que Auerbach analisa as formas de representação do real por via do ficcional, Cleanth Brooks toma as ideias de paradoxo e ambiguidade e procura provar como são o grande propulsor de muita poesia româ Desde que li «Mimesis» de Eric Auerbach que tenho vindo a procurar outros "manuais de crítica" literária (encontrei a recente «Viagem pela Literatura Europeia» de Mega Ferreira, que aborda os grandes clássicos), acima de tudo para entender o próprio conceito de crítica e os seus mecanismos. Ao passo que Auerbach analisa as formas de representação do real por via do ficcional, Cleanth Brooks toma as ideias de paradoxo e ambiguidade e procura provar como são o grande propulsor de muita poesia romântica pós-Shakespeare (talvez os primeiros capítulos sejam pré- e o próprio Shakespeare, não consigo confirmar, sei que há um capítulo de crítica a Shakespeare). ... ... ... Fui confirmar e os autores abordados são: Wordsworth, John Donne, Shakespeare, Dr. Johnson, Herrick, Pope, Gray, Coleridge, Keats, Tennyson e Yeats. Os temas em tensão da vida e morte, invólucro e conteúdo, decoro e actualidade reunem-se na críticas à "Ode to a Grecian Urn" de Keats (e, por sinal, no título): a urna, a "well-wrought urn", de acepção fúnebre, é uma parábola da própria poesia, guarda dentro de si os despojos de algo que já foi vivo, em cinzas, e expõe uma aparência luminosa, mitológica, imagética no exterior, como o poema retém alguma intencionalidade do momento, das escolhas métricas e metafóricas (olha, o Álvaro Campos a fazer rimar, de modo inglório 'Londres' e 'escondes'), culminando como a expressão viva de uma experiência anterior (morta). A obra culmina na teoria crítica da "Heresia da paráfrase", tendo sido exposta anteriormente de um modo prático: a paráfrase serve para a crítica de indicador e não de tradutor de conteúdos, parece-me ser a grande lição a tirar, mas para entender é preciso o percurso de pelo menos um dos outros capítulos e a "Ode" de Keats ou a "Ode" de Wordsworth são bons exemplos disso.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rosy

    Sigh. I want to say, I wish I were smarter, but I wish I were a little less lazy might be more to the point--or at least the first step. I do cop to this series of thoughtful essays being dry and sometimes difficult, although I was frequently aware of how much more difficult they could have been. But: A great snapshot, in the context of my limited awareness, of a very particular time in the history of literary criticism, partly as recognized and discussed by Brooks himself and partly from my part Sigh. I want to say, I wish I were smarter, but I wish I were a little less lazy might be more to the point--or at least the first step. I do cop to this series of thoughtful essays being dry and sometimes difficult, although I was frequently aware of how much more difficult they could have been. But: A great snapshot, in the context of my limited awareness, of a very particular time in the history of literary criticism, partly as recognized and discussed by Brooks himself and partly from my particular vantage. And: a reintroduction to some old poetic chestnuts, some of which are or were familiar old friends to me and one or two of which I might actually never have read before. So not unsatisfying, now that I'm done.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joana

    "(...) the structure of a poem resembles that of a ballet or musical composition. It is a pattern of resolutions and balances and harmonizations, developed through a temporal scheme." Apesar de só ter lido o capítulo "The Heresy of Paraphrase" fiquei sem dúvida intrigada em ler o resto do livro. Texto muito bem estruturado que levanta questões muito interessantes sobre como devemos ver a Poesia (será que está pode ser decifrada? Será que deve ser decifrada? Afinal a tua fabricação é importante? E "(...) the structure of a poem resembles that of a ballet or musical composition. It is a pattern of resolutions and balances and harmonizations, developed through a temporal scheme." Apesar de só ter lido o capítulo "The Heresy of Paraphrase" fiquei sem dúvida intrigada em ler o resto do livro. Texto muito bem estruturado que levanta questões muito interessantes sobre como devemos ver a Poesia (será que está pode ser decifrada? Será que deve ser decifrada? Afinal a tua fabricação é importante? E noções como Ironia, Metáfora, Métrica e Ritmo?). Um livro para mais tarde pegar e, quem sabe talvez, dar as tão merecidas 5 estrelas.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Blah. he has some good readings of Keats and Donne, but too much time is taken up with quarrels with unheard of authors who seem to have pissed him off somehow. I'm perfectly fine with that- and I'm pretty much ok with much of the nominal tenets of New Criticism- but the results aren't all that interesting or incisive. Some good sections, interesting passages, but on the whole nothing that really affected me much. I thought there was more to be found. I won't look any further this way again. Blah. he has some good readings of Keats and Donne, but too much time is taken up with quarrels with unheard of authors who seem to have pissed him off somehow. I'm perfectly fine with that- and I'm pretty much ok with much of the nominal tenets of New Criticism- but the results aren't all that interesting or incisive. Some good sections, interesting passages, but on the whole nothing that really affected me much. I thought there was more to be found. I won't look any further this way again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nadosia Grey

    Every time I read this book I find something newly problematic/interesting about it. This is New Criticism at its finest, containing all the central formalist tenants that you will find in any other other formalist theorist. Most valuable is the treatment of poetry in itself and the inherent paradoxes found in works that disrupt the "scientific language". I love Brooks but so many of his concepts now face significant altercations. This does not mean his ideas are outdated, but it would be naive Every time I read this book I find something newly problematic/interesting about it. This is New Criticism at its finest, containing all the central formalist tenants that you will find in any other other formalist theorist. Most valuable is the treatment of poetry in itself and the inherent paradoxes found in works that disrupt the "scientific language". I love Brooks but so many of his concepts now face significant altercations. This does not mean his ideas are outdated, but it would be naive to think that this book would go unchanged after the post-structural movement.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chris Pfeiffer

    Fantastic parallels drawn between the nature of paradoxical elements in poetry itself, and the scientific notion that is paradox. Poetry doesn't need to be bound by the same scientific notions as scholarly writing; i.e. It can draw on parallels, metaphor etc. in order to convey its point or 'intent'. Very glad I decided to read this, as it certainly adds to the context that I now read poetry in Fantastic parallels drawn between the nature of paradoxical elements in poetry itself, and the scientific notion that is paradox. Poetry doesn't need to be bound by the same scientific notions as scholarly writing; i.e. It can draw on parallels, metaphor etc. in order to convey its point or 'intent'. Very glad I decided to read this, as it certainly adds to the context that I now read poetry in

  17. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I'm not sure why I read this. It's supposedly a "classic" in poetry studies but hopefully poetry studies have come a long way since this was written. If you're intrested in reading some smart things about old poems, this is a good one for you. I'm not sure why I read this. It's supposedly a "classic" in poetry studies but hopefully poetry studies have come a long way since this was written. If you're intrested in reading some smart things about old poems, this is a good one for you.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ke

    I recommend this book to anyone looking for a challenging primer on poetry criticism. Brooks dissects 10 "poems" (in a non-scientific way), including Keats, Yeats, Shakespeare's "Macbeth," Pope's "Rape of Lock," etc. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a challenging primer on poetry criticism. Brooks dissects 10 "poems" (in a non-scientific way), including Keats, Yeats, Shakespeare's "Macbeth," Pope's "Rape of Lock," etc.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ron Tuohy

    Old me, still enamored of the the New Criticism.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fadoua ϟ

    ''The Language of Paradox '' ''The Language of Paradox ''

  21. 5 out of 5

    EvaLovesYA

    En rigtig god kilde ifb. med et semesterfag på engelskstudiet. - Brugt på universitetet (engelsk)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nathantiel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Judy Le

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  25. 4 out of 5

    B Prasant

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Phillips

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andre

  28. 4 out of 5

    Faiqa Mansab

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathe

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dan Ealy

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