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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mode of Investigation and Mode of Presentation

There is a very brilliant book by the poet Stephen Ratcliffe on a song by Thomas Campion. This book looks like a dissertation, and one reason is that, despite its brilliance and novelty, it confuses the mode of investigation with the mode of presentation. The analysis is exhaustive: the author never gives us a summary of his research, but all of it, leaving nothing virtually nothing out. He only has space, naturally, to analyze one poem, because that's all that fits. The prose style is very verbose as well, even when the raw data is not being presented.

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