Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Sunday, January 30, 2011

poetic landscape

from "The Flesh of Words"
Jacques Rancière
born 1940

The modern lyric revolution is not a way of experiencing oneself, of experiencing the profundity of one's inner life, or, conversely, of immersing it in the profundity of nature. It is primarily a specific method of utterance, a way of accompanying one's saying, of deploying it in a perceptual space, of giving it rhythm in a walk, a journey, a crossing. Wind, clouds, the path or the wave, which hold a well-known place in Romantic poetry, are not first of all the drunken experience of wild nature; they are first operators of accompaniment—methods that allow the "I" to slip its way throughout the poem until it makes itself the space of the appearance of daffodils* "in person."

...The subjectivity proper to the lyric poem involves the displacement of a body onto a landscape, in a coincidence of vision and word, which constitutes this territory as the space of writing.

*Esme's note: The daffodils referred to here are those in Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"

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