High Romantic Argument: Essays for M. H. Abrams

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M. H. Abrams's writings on the Romantics have had an incalculable influence on the literary history of his time. High Romantic Argument, treating as it does various aspects of Abrams's work, is in a sense an appraisal of that history. Arising from a conference held in his honor at Cornell University in the spring of 1978, it is made up of essays by six distinguished contributors who explore important critical questions related directly or indirectly to Abrams's work and its broader implications. The essays address Wordsworth as a prophet (Geoffrey Hartman) and as a poet of silence (Jonathan Wordsworth); history as metaphor (Wayne C. Booth); the nature of the critical canon (Thomas McFarland); the personal element in literary history (Lawrence Lipking); and the relation of Abrams's work to current developments in literary criticism (Jonathan Culler). Two central themes run throughout: the radically metaphorical nature of Romantic thought and the tendency of today's students to find Romanticism less rational than Abrams does. While the contributors do not always agree with one another, all are keenly aware of the contemporary challenge to humanistic values. A highlight of this book is the text of Abrams's masterly reply, delivered extemporaneously at the end of the conference. Other elements include a bibliography by Stuart A. Ende, a preface by Stephen M. Parish, and an editor's note. Contributors: M. H. Abrams, Wayne C. Booth, Jonathan Culler, Stuart A. Ende, Geoffrey Hartman, Lawrence Lipking, Thomas McFarland, Stephen M. Parrish, Jonathan Wordsworth