Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Seven Types of Ambiguity is a psychological thriller and a literary adventure of breathtaking scope. Celebrated as a novelist in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen and Philip Roth, Elliot Perlman writes of impulse and paralysis, empty marriages, lovers, gambling, and the stock market; of adult children and their parents; of poetry and prostitution, psychiatry and the law. Comic, poetic, and full of satiric insight, Seven Types of Ambiguity is, above all, a deeply romantic novel that speaks with unforgettable force about the redemptive power of love. The story is told in seven parts, by six different narrators, whose lives are entangled in unexpected ways. Following years of unrequited love, an out-of-work schoolteacher decides to take matters into his own hands, triggering a chain of events that neither he nor his psychiatrist could have anticipated. Brimming with emotional, intellectual, and moral dilemmas, this novel-reminiscent of the richest fiction of the nineteenth century in its labyrinthine complexity-unfolds at a rapid-fire pace to reveal the full extent to which these people have been affected by one another and by the insecure and uncertain times in which they live. Our times, now.
In his enjoyable readings of ambiguity, puns and paradox, Empson draws on a variety of authors from Geoffrey Chaucer to T.S. Eliot, illuminating the strategies of individual writers and creating a general theory of poetic practice - wide-ranging, witty and still controversial today.
Literature is uncertain. Literature is good for us. These two ideas are often taken for granted. But what is the relationship between literature's capacity to perplex and its ethical value? Seven Modes of Uncertainty contends that literary uncertainty is crucial to ethics because it pushes us beyond the limits of our experience.
Ever since it was first published in 1930, William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity has been perceived as a milestone in literary criticism—far from being an impediment to communication, ambiguity now seemed an index of poetic richness and expressive power. Little, however, has been written on the broader trajectory of Western thought about ambiguity before Empson; as a result, the nature of his innovation has been poorly understood. A History of Ambiguity remedies this omission. Starting with classical grammar and rhetoric, and moving on to moral theology, law, biblical exegesis, German philosophy, and literary criticism, Anthony Ossa-Richardson explores the many ways in which readers and theorists posited, denied, conceptualised, and argued over the existence of multiple meanings in texts between antiquity and the twentieth century. This process took on a variety of interconnected forms, from the Renaissance delight in the ‘elegance’ of ambiguities in Horace, through the extraordinary Catholic claim that Scripture could contain multiple literal—and not just allegorical—senses, to the theory of dramatic irony developed in the nineteenth century, a theory intertwined with discoveries of the double meanings in Greek tragedy. Such narratives are not merely of antiquarian interest: rather, they provide an insight into the foundations of modern criticism, revealing deep resonances between acts of interpretation in disparate eras and contexts. A History of Ambiguity lays bare the long tradition of efforts to liberate language, and even a poet’s intention, from the strictures of a single meaning.
Following the publication of Seven Types of Ambiguity in 1930 William Empson was quickly recognised as a critic of great originality and unique creative gifts and he has inspired a whole new method and style of approach in literary criticism. But this is the first full-length study of his work and it is an important part of Dr Norris's purpose to account for the gulf that has emerged between Empson's viewpoint and the development of his ideas by others, especially the American New Critics, and for the consequent failure of Empson's later books to generate the informed discussion they demand and deserve. Here particular attention is given to his critical summa, The Structure of Complex Words. To understand Empson's work as a consistent whole, Dr Norris argues, one must relate it to his philosophy of humanistic rationalism. This is to give a new perspective not only to his practical criticism but also to his differences with Eliot and Leavis and to his anti-Christian polemic.
All readers of literary history and criticism will benefit from this edition of letters by William Empson, one of the foremost writers and critics of the twentieth century. This correspondence shows him working out his ideas for all of his major books as well as complementary studies in writers including Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, Marvell, Coleridge, and Joyce. The edition also gives the fullest possible picture of his robust interactions with many other prominent writers,including the likes of F. R. Leavis, Helen Gardner, Frank Kermode, Christopher Norris, and I. A. Richards.
"Taken from one of America's oldest and most distinguished literary journals, these essays revaluate eminent British and American literary critics of the twentieth century in one masterful volume."--Publishers website.