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By Richard Bradford

This introductory booklet takes the reader via literary historical past from the Renaissance to Postmodernism, and considers person texts as paradigms that can either replicate and unsettle their broader linguistic and cultural contexts. Richard Bradford offers distinct readings of person texts which emphasize their relation to literary historical past and broader socio-cultural contexts, and which have in mind advancements in structuralism and postmodernism. Texts comprise poems by means of Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Keats, Hopkins, Browning, Pound, Eliot, Carlos Williams, Auden, Larkin and Geoffrey Hill.

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The work of Mikhail Bakhtin focuses mainly on the nineteenth-century novel, but his contention that literary texts embody but do not directly reflect the social tensions and interactions of their period corresponds closely with the issues raised by Measure for Measure. In his Problems of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics (1973), Bakhtin introduced a notion of ‘metalinguistics’, based not merely upon the location of a text as an instance of a broader system of linguistic and cultural rules but upon the study of a dynamics of interaction between two or more voices in the same text, such an interaction often occurring in the single, apparently third person, voice of the SHAKESPEARE AND THE METAPHYSICALS 39 novel’s narrator.

With Culler’s ‘rewritten’ piece of free verse Levin’s formula transfers more easily from the abstract to the particular, in the sense that the free verse line effectively follows the rules of grammar and operates only as a secondary pattern of conventions which foreground elements already present in the grammatical pattern. We should now pause to consider how the problems raised by Jakobson, Culler and Levin affect our understanding of the double pattern. Jakobson holds that poetic form or convention plays an active, purposive role in the creation of meaning, but Levin and Culler argue that it provides a framework which prompts and accommodates specific interpretive strategies through which the reader imposes, rather than discloses, meaning.

They create patterns of correspondence between the personal and immediate situation and broader abstract and universal themes that the speaker feels able to use either as strategies of persuasion or consolation. We should also note that Lucio’s interventions create formal as well as thematic disturbances in the Isabella-Angelo exchange. If you listen to the passage as a whole you will find that Isabella is struggling to reinstall herself within the self-contained circuit of addresseraddressee and their shared poetic code.

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