The Rise and Fall of Meter: Poetry and English National Culture, 1860--1930

Overview

"This innovative book changes the prosodic landscape of modernism and Victorianism—it shows that rather than constituting a dramatic break with outworn Victorian metrics, modernist experiment is continuous with Victorian experiment. From Hopkins to Owen, and Bridges to Pound, this book's vital and many-sided topics stretch across World War I and come alive through meticulous writing."—Isobel Armstrong, University of London

"This book captures the ideological work to which meter was put between 1860 and 1930. ...

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The Rise and Fall of Meter: Poetry and English National Culture, 1860--1930

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Overview

"This innovative book changes the prosodic landscape of modernism and Victorianism—it shows that rather than constituting a dramatic break with outworn Victorian metrics, modernist experiment is continuous with Victorian experiment. From Hopkins to Owen, and Bridges to Pound, this book's vital and many-sided topics stretch across World War I and come alive through meticulous writing."—Isobel Armstrong, University of London

"This book captures the ideological work to which meter was put between 1860 and 1930. Meter may seem removed from the themes of official national doctrine, but Martin shows meter's critical part in promoting educational schemes that claimed to discover national identity. Her account is not only a history of meter but also a description of its role in the advancement of history and poetry as school subjects. A stunningly insightful book."—Frances Ferguson, Johns Hopkins University

"The Rise and Fall of Meter brilliantly unsettles received accounts of Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian verse culture, demonstrating how intricately and urgently prosody figured in the national and imperial imaginaries from the 1860s through WWI. It is essential reading for anyone seriously interested in the history, politics, and forms of modern poetry."—Jason David Hall, University of Exeter

"A genuinely exciting contribution to the history of English poetry and poetics, The Rise and Fall of Meter argues for a more complicated and ultimately more interesting narrative of the turn from Victorian to modern prosody. Meredith Martin's significant archival work and fastidious analyses teach us how to read poems we likely have never encountered, and to reread those that we have."—Jason R. Rudy, University of Maryland

"This incredibly accomplished book is one of the very finest cultural histories of English meter ever written. Unfailingly brilliant, it prompts us to revisit canonical poems with fresh eyes, creates a true understanding of how meter defined the role of poetry during World War I, and transforms our view of the literary history of the late Victorian and early modernist periods. An outstanding and phenomenal achievement."—Joseph Bristow, University of California, Los Angeles

"The Rise and Fall of Meter is a major contribution to the fields of Victorian and modern poetry, and to the burgeoning field of historical poetics. Thoroughly provocative, learned, and stimulating, it deploys a vast array of sources, many of them unknown until now. Because of this remarkably rich book, I will never teach or read Victorian poetry in the same way again."—Carolyn Williams, Rutgers University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2013 Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism, Robert Penn Warren Center and Western Kentucky University

Co-Winner of the 2013 Sonia Rudikoff Prize, Northeast Victorian Studies Association

Winner of the 2012 MLA Prize for a First Book, Modern Language Association

"[T]hrough her skillful close readings, Martin reveals a generation of war poets much more finely tuned to nationalist discourses of metre and their changing relationship to them than had been previously acknowledged."—Elizabeth Micakovic, Literature & History

"Martin's great accomplishment, done with impressive detail, panache, and style, is to reveal the ideological presuppositions, political desires, and personal needs of metrical practitioners and theorists in the culture and period that she examines."—Richard Cureton, Review of English Studies

"This book open[s] new horizons for historical poetics and prosody. . . . Martin's [work] is at once the most historically capacious work to date and the one that goes the farthest toward proving not only the utility of a historically attuned prosody for the study of poetry but the necessity of the field to both formalism and cultural studies."—Ben Glaser, Modern Language Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691155128
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/6/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,448,421
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Meredith Martin is associate professor of English at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Failure of Meter 1
Modern Instability 1
Metrical Communities 5
Meter as Culture 10
A Note on Historical Prosody 14

Chapter 1: The History of Meter 16
A Metrical History of England 16
A Grammatical History of England 33
Grammatical Instability 39
Metrical Instability 42

Chapter 2: The Stigma of Meter 48
Metrical Irrelevance 48
The British Empire of Letters 52
Marking Instress 54
Acute Stress in —The Wreck of the Deutschland— 61
Mistrusting the Ear 67

Chapter 3: The Institution of Meter 79
Metrical Mastery 79
Inventing the Britannic 87
Dynamic Reading 91
Mastery for the Masses 94
The English Ear 99
A Prosodic Entity 102

Chapter 4: The Discipline of Meter 109
Patriotic Pedagogy 109
Matthew Arnold’s Metrical Intimacy 112
Henry Newbolt’s Cultural Metrics 122
Private Meters, Public Rhythms 130
The Sound of the Drum 139

Chapter 5: The Trauma of Meter 145
Wartime, Poetics 145
Sad Death for a Poet! 150
Therapeutic Measures 158
Bent-Double 171
The Kindred Points of Heaven and Home 176

Chapter 6: The Before- and Afterlife of Meter 181
Metrical Modernism 181
Make It Old: Robert Bridges and Obsolescence 187
Alice Meynell’s "English Metres" 198
Toward a Critical Prosody 203

Notes 207
Works Cited 241
Index 261

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