Philosophy 36 (136):74 - 76 (1961)

Professor Brett has some direct acquaintance with a Joint Honours Degree in English Literature and Philosophy: and it is therefore on the basis of his own experience that he warns us that poetry and philosophy are “difficult pursuits for any man to combine” . This book has an introductory chapter and a short epilogue which deal in a philosophical way with meaning in poetry and in imaginative literature generally and with the nature of critical interpretation.In the four middle chapters the author gives his account of four well-known and much discussed poems: Lycidas, the Essay on Man, the Ancient Mariner and the Four Quartets . One could imagine these chapters presented independently as interpretations and discussions of the literary and historical background of the poems: but they certainly illustrate Mr. Brett's theory of meaning in poetry and this provides a certain unity. Parts of Chapter I were first published by the author in Philosophy . What is new is the particular application of the theory to didactic and discursive poetry. To this is now added a discussion of rival theories of interpretation: first, the view expressed by Wimsatt and Beardsley in “The Intentional Fallacy” ; and, second, the views expressed by Miss Kathleen Raine in her essay on Blake
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819100057855
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