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The Structure of Complex Words

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Empson's classic may "have even more to teach us about language now than It did In 1951. when this remarkable book was first published," writes Jonathan Cutler in his valuable foreword. Empson elegantly demonstrates the weight of allusion and Implication borne by even the simplest words of our language: man, honest, quite, dog. he explores the complex play of such words in social situations and in literature, producing in the process brilliant critical essays?on sense in Wordsworth's Prelude, honest in Othello ...

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Overview

Empson's classic may "have even more to teach us about language now than It did In 1951. when this remarkable book was first published," writes Jonathan Cutler in his valuable foreword. Empson elegantly demonstrates the weight of allusion and Implication borne by even the simplest words of our language: man, honest, quite, dog. he explores the complex play of such words in social situations and in literature, producing in the process brilliant critical essays—on sense in Wordsworth's Prelude, honest in Othello and King Lear all in Paradise Lost—which go straight to the heart of the matter.

Lively and irreverent, this book offers persuasive accounts of the structure of metaphor, the statements carried by words, and the failure of dictionary entries to capture the most pertinent aspects of the structure and meaning of words. Culler writes that It stakes out "a new position in debates about meaning and context about the literary in Its relation to the social and the historical. Empson's brilliant discussions of words which express complex social attitudes toward one's fellows or toward moral principles open rich chapters of social and literary history."

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
**** Cited in BCL3. Reprint. Originally published in 1951. Contains a fairly long new introduction by Jonathan Culler. No bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674843752
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1989
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 449
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Sir William Empson (1906-1984) held the Chair of English Literature from 1953 to 1971 at the University of Sheffield.

Jonathan Culler is Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cornell University.

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Table of Contents

1. Feelings in Words

2. Statements in Words

3. Wit in the Essay on Criticism

4. All in Paradise Lost

5. The Praise of Folly

6. Fool in Lear

7. The English Dog

8. Timon's Dog

9. Honest Man

10. Honest Numbers

11. Honest in Othello

12. Sense and Sensibility

13. Sense in Measure for Measure

14. Sense in the Prelude

15. Sensible and Candid

16. Mesopotamia

17. Pregnancy

18. Metaphor

19. A is B

20. The Primitive Mind

21. Dictionaries

Appendices (I-III)

Index

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