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Poetry against Torture

Criticism, History and the Human

Paul A. Bova

Publication Year: 2009

This book shows that poetry, historicism, and humanism together make possible civilizations that afford the best chance for the human species to develop, for individuals to perfect themselves, and for the hard earned achievement of making the human historical to persist.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xvi

This book would never have been written had i not been honored with an invitation to lecture at the university of Hong Kong on Foundations of Euro-American Critical Theory. In searching about for a way to approach this intimidating topic, it seemed to me imperative that I couple two lines of approach, or if you will, adopt two congruent subjects. I had to choose a starting...

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1. Vico and Philological Criticism

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pp. 1-20

Beginning in 1699, the Neapolitan thinker and critic, Giambattista Vico, opened each academic year at the University of Naples with an “Inaugural Oration" delivered on October 18, the Feast Day of St. Luke. As Professor of Rhetoric, it was his job to introduce new university students to the nature, aims, and traditions of education while at the same time elaborating his own ever-deepening...

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2. Philology and Poetry, The Case against Descartes

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pp. 21-38

I took us through some very strong moments in Vico's work to prepare us to see the demands his thinking makes on us at times like ours when it is very easy to inherit the influence of his great opponents such as Descartes. More important, though, the main obstacle to an appreciation of Vico as a predecessor today is, in fact, the principle reason why we must make the effort. Many major...

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3. Erich Auerbach and Invention of Man

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pp. 39-56

There are at least two different ways to introduce Erich Auerback following what we have said about Vico. On the one hand, we might speak of him as a scholar who embraces philology as a method for thinking about literature and culture because it recognizes that human being is a self-making historical species 一and so we might begin with a look at philology. On the other hand, we might approach Auerbach as a reader and student of Vico, about whose work he...

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4. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Criticism

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pp. 57-76

Is secular liberalism an ally of historical humanism's devotion to poetics and the defense of criticism? The question is too broad and our time too short to answer fully, but there is no doubt that Milll's great essay, On Liberty, published in 1859 - the same year as Darwin's Origin of Species and Marx's A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy - gives us passionate and compelling reasons... to think so. Moreover, in On Liberty, liberalism and historicism show themselves...

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5. John Stuart Mill and the Limits of Self-Making

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pp. 77-96

In 1962, the Nobel Prize laureate and American novelist, Saul Bellow wrote:
In what we call the novel of sensibility the intent of the writer is to pull us into an all-sufficient consciousness which he, the writer, governs absolutely. In the realistic novel today the writer is satisfied with an art of externals. Either he assumes that by describing a man's shoes he has...

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6. Michel Foucault and the Critical Care of the Self

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pp. 97-116

Not long before his death in 1984, Micel Foucault gave a wide-ranging interview in which he clarified a number of popular misconceptions about his thinking while calmly describing the work he had before him.1 The interview is, perhaps, as pedagogical as any Foucault ever gave, setting polemic aside for patient exposition that contains a legitimating of the teacher's rights...

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7. William Empson and the Mind: Poetry, Torture, and Civilization

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pp. 117-136

The history of criticism takes William Empson to be brilliant and eccentric. In 2006, writing in The New York Review of Books, John Gross called him "a prodigy" and reminded us that "He arrived at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1925, with a scholarship in mathematics: his college supervisor regarded him as one of the best mathematicians he had ever had." Three years later he changed...


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pp. 137-146


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pp. 147-159

E-ISBN-13: 9789888052653
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622099265

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 650528241
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Poetry against Torture

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Subject Headings

  • Humanism.
  • Liberalism.
  • Poetry.
  • Torture -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Social evolution.
  • Social control.
  • Poetry -- Social aspects.
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