Obbligati: Essays in Criticism
"The proper role of criticism [is] as a musical obbligato; that is, a counterpart that must constantly strive to move in strict harmony with and intellectual counterpoint to its subject, and remain always subordinate to the text upon which it presumes to comment." With this declaration, Hecht sets forth the manifesto of this graceful group of essays, implicitly chiding today's academic critics who apply theories to texts. Hecht is particularly elegant and eloquent on contemporary American poetry, from the tension between truth and fiction in Robert Lowell's autobiographical lyrics to the "musicianship" of Richard Wilbur. Hecht's best essay evokes the unique poetic voice of Elizabeth Bishop, and he is equally perspicacious on Frost, Auden, and Dickinson. An extended essay on Marvell's "The Garden" and Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale" offers an unusual comparative reading that captures the energies and langours of both poems. This book offers literary essays of rare quality. The writing throughout is a model of form suiting function--the lucid exposition of well-chosen ideas.
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Obbligati: essays in criticismUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Each of these ten essays, written over a span of 25 years, is intended as "a musical obbligato''an enriching counterpart to the text it discusses, not a substitute for it. Most of the essays deal with ... Read full review
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