Oxford University Press (2017)

Max De Gaynesford
University of Reading
What is it for poetry to be serious and to be taken seriously? What is it to be open to poetry, exposed to its force, attuned to what it says and alive to what it does? These are important questions that call equally on poetry and philosophy. But poetry and philosophy, notoriously, have an ancient quarrel. Maximilian de Gaynesford sets out to understand and convert their mutual antipathy into something mutually enhancing, so that we can begin to answer these and other questions. The key to attuning poetry and philosophy lies in the fact that poetic utterances are best appreciated as doing things. For it is as doing things that the speech act approach in analytic philosophy of language tries to understand all utterances. Taking such an approach, this book offers ways to enhance our appreciation of poetry and to develop our understanding of philosophy. It explores work by a range of poets from Chaucer to Geoffrey Hill and J. H. Prynne, and culminates in an extended study of Shakespeare's Sonnets. What work does poetry set itself, and how does this determine the way it is to be judged? What do poets commit themselves to, and what they may be held responsible for? What role does a poet have, or their audience, or their context, in determining the meaning of a poem, what work it is able to achieve? These are the questions that an attuned approach is able to ask and answer.
Keywords Speech Acts
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ISBN(s) 0198797265   9780198797265
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Chapters BETA
Introduction: What is Attunement?

Attunement is a mutually shaping approach in which we analyse material in genuinely philosophical ways, with the prospect of changing the way we think about things in general; in really appreciating poetry and adopting a genuinely critical approach, with the prospect of changing the way we... see more

Austin’s Remarks

J. L. Austin makes several remarks that seem to reflect antipathy towards poetry. He describes poetic utterances as ‘non-serious’ and represents poetry itself as a non-serious use of language. He does not argue for these claims or clarify his meaning. Though his tone is light, the curiousl... see more

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