Classic by Frank Kermode
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By Frank Kermode

The Classic

Literary Images of Permanence and Change New edition

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Format: Paperback

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Classic by Frank Kermode

Book Description

Attempts to determine the criteria for classical literature through an analysis of the social and intellectual importance of great works of the past.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674133983
ISBN-10: 0674133986
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x 7mm)
Pages: 142
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1983
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Frank Kermode

Forms of Attention by Frank Kermode Forms of Attention, Paperback (October 2011)

Includes essay on Botticelli that traces the artist's sudden popularity in the nineteenth century for reasons that have more to do with poetry than painting.

Concerning E.M. Forster by Frank Kermode Concerning E.M. Forster, Paperback (November 2010)

A major reassessment of the one of the greatest English novelist of the twentieth century, from celebrated critic Sir Frank Kermode.

» View all books by Frank Kermode


US Kirkus Review » In its original form as the 1973 T. S. Eliot Memorial Lectures at the University of Kent, this must have been exhausting. One suspects that it's a great deal more manageable as a book. The subject may be inadequately described as the attitudes various literary epochs have held toward their formative pasts. Until rather recently the classics of other ages constituted a stable set of data in educated minds, although not everyone went as far as Eliot in proclaiming Europe still fundamentally a Roman province to be judged according to Roman-Christian canons. Beginning with Eliot's "imperialist" model, Kermode shows how it gradually strains at the seams when required to accommodate not only Virgil, Dante, and the Elizabethans but the more recalcitrant Milton, ambiguous Marvell, and urbanely unheroic or a-heroic English Augustans. With a provocative break in method, Kermode then abandons the Eliot framework to analyze the roles of past and present in the novels of Hawthorne. In Hawthorne's world, meanings do not stay where an observer has put them: in time ambiguity becomes instability; species are confusingly represented by anomalous individuals; progress and degeneration compete as historical processes. Such is the vision Kermode finds behind Hawthorne's deliberately perplexing narratives, and it points the way to an epoch in which criticism cannot rely on objectively "real" meanings to evaluate literary classics. Kermode concludes - by way of some rather annoying meanderings on Wuthering Heights - that in our day the genuine "classic" literary value must be a loosely structured, multi-significant inclusiveness, an ability to encompass a broad variety of interpretations. One is grateful for dozens of individual literary insights (the Hawthorne chapter alone is worth the price of the book), but Kermode employs a lot of grandiose machinery to formulate a conclusion which most students of literature have heard expressed more simply. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Frank Kermode

Frank Kermode is Julian Clarence Levi Professor of English Literature, Columbia University, and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.

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