Masters of Repetition: Poetry, Culture, and Work in Thomson, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Emerson
St. Martin's Press, 1998 - 248 pages
In an age of mass markets, mass audiences, and mass culture, the role of poetry in our moral or political world seems at best uncertain. This was a dilemma faced by such poets as James Thomson, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In Masters of Repetition, Lisa M. Steinman examines this issue by focusing on the work of these four poets. Covering the period between 1725 and 1847, Steinman looks at the involvement of these poets with both literary history and the changing social climates each of them confronted. She addresses the idea of influence and each poet's debt to the poets who came before him, as well as the struggle for an original voice. Describing how all four poets seized on the practice of poetry as not just art but as a vehicle for social action and change, Steinman contemporizes this idea and reveals the ways in which each poet attempted to align his work with power. She also shows how these poets responded to the conflict posed by inherited literary models and current cultural changes. Masters of Repetition offers a uniquely-crafted model for reading modern poetry’s engagement with power--both literary and worldly, past and present.
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