New Release Books by Derek Attridge

Derek Attridge is the author of In a Province: Studies in the Writing of South Africa (2022), J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading (2021), Meter and Meaning (2020), The Experience of Poetry (2019) and other 44 books.

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In a Province: Studies in the Writing of South Africa

release date: Feb 01, 2022
In a Province: Studies in the Writing of South Africa
The distinguished South African scholar and critic Graham Pechey was one of the leading voices in the debates about literature's role in the apartheid state, and he continued to reflect influentially on its importance and function after the establishment of democracy. Pechey died in 2016 without putting the finishing touches on a book on South African literature and culture that had been some twenty years in the making. He wrote on a wide range of South African literature across the racial divide and across periods, combining an acute sense of the historical and geopolitical situation of South African writing with a sensitive ear to the workings of the literary; he was thus able to do justice to both the singular grain of individual works and their broad political and cultural implications. This collection brings together the most significant of these essays, organised in a way that reflects his major concerns. Topics addressed include the role of culture in the transition from apartheid to democracy, the specificity of English as a literary medium in South Africa, the freedom of the artist in an authoritarian state, and the global trajectory of South African words. Among the authors discussed are Olive Schreiner, Njabulo Ndebele, Nadine Gordimer, J.M. Coetzee, William Plomer, F.T. Prince, and Roy Campbell.

J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading

release date: Apr 10, 2021
J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading
Nobel Prize-winning novelist J. M. Coetzee is one of the most widely taught contemporary writers, but also one of the most elusive. Many critics who have addressed his work have devoted themselves to rendering it more accessible and acceptable, often playing down the features that discomfort and perplex his readers. Yet it is just these features, Derek Attridge argues, that give Coetzee's work its haunting power and offer its greatest rewards. Attridge does justice to this power and these rewards in a study that serves as an introduction for readers new to Coetzee and a stimulus for thought for those who know his work well. Without overlooking the South African dimension of his fiction, Attridge treats Coetzee as a writer who raises questions of central importance to current debates both within literary studies and more widely in the ethical arena. Implicit throughout the book is Attridge's view that literature, more than philosophy, politics, or even religion, does singular justice to our ethical impulses and acts. Attridge follows Coetzee's lead in exploring a number of issues such as interpretation and literary judgment, responsibility to the other, trust and betrayal, artistic commitment, confession, and the problematic idea of truth to the self.

Meter and Meaning

release date: Aug 26, 2020
Meter and Meaning
Poet, Thomas Carper, and scholar, Derek Attridge, join forces in Meter and Meaning to present an illuminating and user-friendly way to explore the rhythms of poetry in English. They begin by showing the value of performing any poem aloud, so that we can sense its unique use of rhythm. From this starting point they suggest an entirely fresh, jargon-free approach to reading poetry. Illustrating their 'beat/offbeat' method with a series of exercises, they help readers to appreciate the use of rhythm in poems of all periods and to understand the vital relationship between meter and meaning. Beginning with the very basics, Meter and Meaning enables a smooth progression to an advanced knowledge of poetic rhythms. It is the essential guide to meter for anyone who wants to study, write, better appreciate, or simply enjoy poetry. Carper and Attridge make studying meter a pleasure and reading poetry a revelation.

The Experience of Poetry

release date: Feb 14, 2019
The Experience of Poetry
Was the experience of poetry—or a cultural practice we now call poetry—continuously available across the two-and-a-half millennia from the composition of the Homeric epics to the publication of Ben Jonson's Works and the death of Shakespeare in 1616? How did the pleasure afforded by the crafting of language into memorable and moving rhythmic forms play a part in the lives of hearers and readers in Ancient Greece and Rome, Europe during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and Britain during the Renaissance? In tackling these questions, this book first examines the evidence for the performance of the Iliad and the Odyssey and of Ancient Greek lyric poetry, the impact of the invention of writing on Alexandrian verse, the performances of poetry that characterized Ancient Rome, and the private and public venues for poetic experience in Late Antiquity. It moves on to deal with medieval verse, exploring the oral traditions that spread across Europe in the vernacular languages, the place of manuscript transmission, the shift from roll to codex and from papyrus to parchment, and the changing audiences for poetry. A final part investigates the experience of poetry in the English Renaissance, from the manuscript verse of Henry VIII's court to the anthologies and collections of the late Elizabethan era. Among the topics considered in this part are the importance of the printed page, the continuing significance of manuscript circulation, the performance of poetry in pageants and progresses, and the appearance of poets on the Elizabethan stage. In tracking both continuity and change across these many centuries, the book throws fresh light on the role and importance of poetry in western culture.

The Singularity of Literature

release date: Apr 07, 2017
The Singularity of Literature
The Iliad and Beowulf provide rich sources of historical information. The novels of Henry Fielding and Henry James may be instructive in the art of moral living. Some go further and argue that Emile Zola and Harriet Beecher Stowe played a part in ameliorating the lives of those existing in harsh circumstances. However, as Derek Attridge argues in this outstanding and acclaimed book, none of these capacities is distinctive of literature. What is the singularity of literature? Do the terms "literature" and "the literary" refer to actual entities found in cultures at certain times, or are they merely expressions characteristic of such cultures? Attridge argues that this resistance to definition and reduction is not a dead end, but a crucial starting point from which to explore anew the power and practices of Western art. Derek Attridge provides a rich new vocabulary for literature, rethinking such terms as "invention," "singularity," "otherness," "alterity," "performance" and "form." He returns literature to the realm of ethics, and argues for the ethical importance of literature, demonstrating how a new understanding of the literary might be put to work in a "responsible," creative mode of reading. The Singularity of Literature is not only a major contribution to the theory of literature, but also a celebration of the extraordinary pleasure of the literary, for reader, writer, student or critic. This Routledge Classics edition includes a new preface by the author.

The Craft of Poetry

release date: Apr 17, 2015
The Craft of Poetry
This book presents an innovative format for poetry criticism that its authors call "dialogical poetics." This approach shows that readings of poems, which in academic literary criticism often look like a product of settled knowledge, are in reality a continual negotiation between readers. But Derek Attridge and Henry Staten agree to rein in their own interpretive ingenuity and "minimally interpret" poems – reading them with careful regard for what the poem can be shown to actually say, in detail and as a whole, from opening to closure. Based on a series of emails, the book explores a number of topics in the reading of poetry, including historical and intellectual context, modernist difficulty, the role of criticism, and translation. This highly readable book will appeal to anyone who enjoys poetry, offering an inspiring resource for students whilst also mounting a challenge to some of the approaches to poetry currently widespread in the academy.

The Work of Literature

release date: Mar 26, 2015
The Work of Literature
What is distinctive about the cultural practice called 'literature'? How does it benefit individuals and society? How do literary works retain their importance and their capacity to give pleasure over decades and centuries? What constitutes responsible criticism? These are some of the questions addressed in this book, which develops the arguments put forward in Derek Attridge's influential study The Singularity of Literature (2004). Beginning with an extended cross-examination in the form of an interview addressing a range of topics relating to the work of literature (understood both as the activity of the writer and as the text itself) and the practices of literary reading and literary criticism, it asks what it means to 'do justice to' a work of literature, provides a full account of the concept of singularity, considers the problematic power of criticism, and advances an account of the role of context in the writing and reading of literary works. In other chapters it explores the issue of cultural difference in responses to literature, discusses the working of metaphor, questions the attribution of knowledge to literary works, and addresses the topics of affect and hospitality. The book follows through the consequences of regarding the singular and inventive work of literature as an event that takes place anew each time it is read, providing an opening to an otherness excluded by prevailing cultural norms and habits of thought and feeling. Although the focus of the book is on literature, the arguments are relevant to all the arts, and engage with the thought of major aesthetic theorists in a number of traditions.

The Rhythms of English Poetry

release date: Jul 10, 2014
The Rhythms of English Poetry
Examines the way in which poetry in English makes use of rhythm. The author argues that there are three major influences which determine the verse-forms used in any language: the natural rhythm of the spoken language itself; the properties of rhythmic form; and the metrical conventions which have grown up within the literary tradition. He investigates these in order to explain the forms of English verse, and to show how rhythm and metre work as an essential part of the reader's experience of poetry.

Derek Attridge in Conversation

Derek Attridge in Conversation
This volume of conversation not only provides a succinct philosophical biography that highlights the wide range of Attridge's interests. It likewise foregrounds his energetic engagements with literary theory, poetics, and stylistics, as well as his reassessments of contemporary philosophy and literary ideas, specifically those pertaining to the work Jacques Derrida, James Joyce, and J. M. Coetzee. Readers will find in this book a wonderful balancing act as Attridge negotiates the dynamics between the orthodoxies of critical practice and the strategic interventions of deconstructive reading. This book, with an appendix of a chronological listing of Attridge's publications, is an accessible and provocative introduction to the ideas of one of the most brilliant critical voices and generous presences in literary studies in the Anglophone world.

Moving Words

release date: Aug 15, 2013
Moving Words
The contemporary reader of English poetry is able to take pleasure in the sounds and movements of the English language in works written over the past eight centuries, and to find poems that convey powerful emotions and vivid images from this entire period. This book investigates the ways in which poets have exploited the resources of the language as a spoken medium - its characteristic rhythms, its phonetic qualities, its deployment of syntax - to write verse that continues to move and delight. The chapters in the first of the two parts examine a number of issues relating to poetic form: the resurgence of interest in formal questions in recent years, the role of syntactic phrasing in the operation of poetry, the function of rhyme, and the relation between sound and sense. The second part is concerned with rhythm and metre, explaining and demonstrating 'beat prosody' as a tool of poetic analysis, and discussing three major traditions in English versification: the free four-beat form used in much popular verse, the controlled power of the iambic pentameter, and the twentieth-century invention of free verse. All these topics are discussed by means of particular case studies, from the metrical form of a thirteenth-century lyric to uses of sound in recent poetry. Among the many poets whose work is considered are Spenser, Milton, Dryden, Keats, Tennyson, Hardy, Yeats, Frost, Ashbery, Hill, Plath, Paterson, and Prynne. Drawing on Derek Attridge's forty-five years of engagement with the forms of poetry, this volume provides extensive evidence of the importance of close attention to the moving and sounding of language in the poems we enjoy.

Moving Words: Forms of English Poetry

release date: Aug 15, 2013
Moving Words: Forms of English Poetry
This book investigates the ways in which poets have exploited the resources of the language as a spoken medium - its characteristic rhythms, its phonetic qualities, its deployment of syntax - to write verse that continues to move and delight.

Reading and Responsibility

release date: May 27, 2010
Reading and Responsibility
What is the importance of deconstruction, and the writing of Jacques Derrida in particular, for literary criticism today? Derek Attridge argues that the challenge of Derrida's work for our understanding of literature and its value has still not been fully met, and in this book, which traces a close engagement with Derrida's writing over two decades and reflects an interest in that work going back a further two decades, shows how that work can illuminate a variety of topics.Chapters include an overview of deconstruction as a critical practice today, discussions of the secret, postcolonialism, ethics, literary criticism, jargon, fiction, and photography, and responses to the theoretical writing of Emmanuel Levinas, Roland Barthes, and J. Hillis Miller. Also included is a discussion of the recent reading of Derrida's philosophy as 'radical atheism', and the book ends with a conversation on deconstruction and place with the theorist and critic Jean-Michel Rabate.Running throughout is a concern with the question of responsibility, as exemplified in Derrida's own readings of literary and philosophical texts: responsibility to the work being read, responsibility to the protocols of rational argument, and responsibility to the reader.

Peculiar Language

release date: Aug 02, 2004
Peculiar Language
First published in 1988, Peculiar Language is now established as one of the most important discussions of the language of literature. This thought-provoking book challenges traditional notions of literary criticism, arguing that all attempts by writers, critics and literary theorists to define the language of literature have involved self-contradiction. Through examination of key moments in literary history, Derek Attridge demonstrates that such contradictions in accounts of literary language are embedded in our cultural concept of 'literature' and asserts that in order to appreciate the forces that determine the limits of literary language, we must look beyond the realm of the 'literary' and embrace the wider political and social sphere. Re-issued as a result of sustained critical interest in the book, this edition includes a new preface by the author.

How to Read Joyce

release date: Jan 01, 2007
How to Read Joyce
Moving through Joyce's major books, the author demonstrates that they all, in their different ways, are a pleasure to read - even if we have to make some adjustments to our understanding of what 'reading' is.

Joyce Effects

release date: Mar 16, 2000
Joyce Effects
This is a series of connected essays by one of today's leading commentators on James Joyce.

Poetic Rhythm

release date: Sep 28, 1995
Poetic Rhythm
A straightforward and practical introduction to rhythm and meter in poetry in English.
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