Benjamin Harshav is the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Yale University. Until 1987, he taught at Tel Aviv University, where he established a department of poetics and comparative literature. He is also the founding editor of the journal Poetics Today. His recent books include Marc Chagall and His Times: A Documentary Narrative (Stanford, 2003) and Sing, Stranger: A Century of American Yiddish PoetryA Historical Anthology(Stanford, 2006). He is also the editor of Marc Chagall on Art and Culture(Stanford, 2003).
Explorations in Poeticsby Benjamin Harshav
This collection of essays, published in a different time and now revised, constitutes a lucid introduction to a systematic theory of literature-a "grammar" of literature-without heavy terminology or bibliography. Developed by the author in Israel during the 1960s and 1970s, this coherent and comprehensive theory of the work of literature lay at the foundations of the Tel-Aviv School of Poetics. The approach, which may be called "Constructive Poetics," does not assume that the work of literature is a text with fixed structures and meanings, but a text that invites the reader to evoke or project a network of interrelated constructs, complementary or contradictory as they may be. The work of literature is not just a narrative, as studies in narratology assume, but a text that projects a fictional world or an Internal Field of Reference. Texts convey meaning through the evocation of "frames of reference" (such as scenes, characters, or ideas). Language in literature is double-directed: it relates the Internal Field to External Fields and vice versa.
This volume explores a range of topics: the problems of fictionality, presentation and representation, metaphor as interaction between several frames of reference, the theory of Integrational Semantics in literary and other texts, the meaning of sound patterns in poetry, and the question of "literariness." Revived today, the essays here resonate with the current mood in literary criticism.
About the Author:
Benjamin Harshav currently Professor of Comparative Literature, J. and H. Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, and Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University
- Stanford University Press
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