William Empson by John Haffenden
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William Empson
By John Haffenden

William Empson

Among the Mandarins Volume 1

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Format: Paperback

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William Empson by John Haffenden

Book Description

William Empson was the foremost English literary critic of the twentieth century. He was a man of huge energy and curiosity, and a genuine eccentric who remained imperturbable in the face of all the extraordinary circumstances in which he found himself. The discovery of contraceptives in his possession by a bedmaker at Cambridge University led to his being robbed of a promised Fellowship. Yet Seven Types of Ambiguity, drafted while he was still an undergraduate, promptly brought him world-wide fame. Empson invented modern literary criticism in English. He acted too as a cultural fifth-columnist, challenging received doctrine in life and literature. 'It is a very good thing for a poet ...to be saying something which is considered very shocking at the time,' he maintained. 'To become morally independent of one's formative society ...is the grandest theme of all literature, because it is the only means of moral progress.' His public life took him through many of the major political events of the modern world - the rise of imperialism in Japan, the Sino-Japanese war in China, wartime propaganda for the BBC, and the Chinese civil war and Communist takeover of Peking in 1949. His friends and critical sparring partners included I. A. Richards, Kathleen Raine, J. B. S. Haldane, Humphrey Jennings, George Orwell, Robert Lowell, Dylan Thomas, Stephen Spender, Helen Gardner, and T. S. Eliot. 'It is of great importance now that writers should try to keep a certain world-mindedness,' he insisted. 'Without the literatures you cannot have a sense of history, and history is like the balancing-pole of the tightrope-walker ...; and nowadays we very much need the longer balancing-pole of not national but world history.' His passionate world-mindedness, and his humanism, combativeness, and wit, are fully in evidence in this, the first of two volumes exploring his remarkable life and work.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780199539918
ISBN-10: 019953991X
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 42mm)
Pages: 720
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 22-Jan-2009
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...


Books By Author John Haffenden

Letters of T. S. Eliot by John Haffenden Letters of T. S. Eliot, Hardback (February 2016)

Despairing of his volatile, unstable marriage, T S Eliot, at 44, resolves to put an end to his eighteen-year union with Vivien Haigh-Wood Eliot. This book offers a vivid and personal documentation of T S Eliot's most crucial years, both in his private and public life.

W. H. Auden by John Haffenden W. H. Auden, Paperback (March 2013)

This set comprises of 40 volumes covering nineteenth and twentieth century European and American authors. These volumes will be available as a complete set, mini boxed sets (by theme) or as individual volumes. This second set compliments the first 68 volume set of Critical Heritage published by Routledge in October 1995.

William Empson by John Haffenden William Empson, Paperback (January 2009)

John Haffenden's acclaimed biography of William Empson (1906-1984), the foremost English literary critic of the twentieth century, is now available in paperback. An authoritative and compelling account and the second of two volumes exploring his remarkable life and work.

Selected Letters of William Empson by John Haffenden Selected Letters of William Empson, Paperback (January 2009)

William Empson is one of the foremost writers and critics of the twentieth century. This correspondence shows him working out his ideas and gives the fullest possible picture of his robust interactions with many other prominent writers, including the likes of F. R. Leavis, Helen Gardner, Frank Kermode, Christopher Norris, and I. A. Richards.

» View all books by John Haffenden

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