Enigmas and Riddles in Literature:

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Februar 2006



How do enigmas and riddles work in literature? This anatomy of the riddle investigates the trope of enigma, drawing on classical and biblical to modern literary texts. It analyses riddle as large masterplot, as genre, and as witty scheme, with wide-ranging examples, many from modern poetry, and three detailed case-studies on Dante, Lewis Carroll, and Wallace Stevens. An important contribution to studies of poetic thought and metaphor, this book will appeal particularly to readers and scholars of poetry, modern American and comparative literatures, rhetoric, folk-riddles, and the history of ideas.


Introduction; 1. Enigma personified: the riddling beasts, Sphinx and griffin; 2. Enigma as trope: history, function, fortunes; 3. What is the shape of the riddle? Enigma as masterplot; 4. Case study I. Enigma in Dante's Eden (Purgatorio 27-33); 5. Questions of riddle and genre; 6. Riddle as scheme: a case for a new griph-class; 7. Case study II. Mapping riddles: Lewis Carroll and the Alice books; 8. Figures for enigma; 9. Case study III. The structure of reality: enigma in Wallace Steven's later work; 10. From protection to innocent amusement: some other functions of enigma; Afterword: enigma, the boundary figure; Appendix: Enigma, riddle and friends among the lexicographers.


Eleanor Cook is Professor Emerita, Department of English, University of Toronto. She writes mainly on poetry and poetics, especially modern, as well as on questions of allusion, the English Bible and literature, and the riddle. Her books include studies of Robert Browning and Wallace Stevens, as well as a collection of essays, Against Coercion: Games Poets Play (1998). Her essays have appeared in many books and journals, including American Literature, Daedalus, ELH, Essays in Criticism, and Philosophy and Literature. She has served as President of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, and is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Senior Killam Research Fellow (Canada Council), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.


'This is an extraordinary book. ... [It] is a feast for the ear, eye, and mind.' Judith Scherer Herz, University of Toronto Quarterly 'This is one of the most resourceful and attractive works of constructive speculation ... Very seldom is an important book so enjoyable.' Alastair Fowler, Yale Review '... Eleanor Cook's magnificent book ...' Curtis Gruenler, Christianity and Literature '... beautifully organized and detailed analysis ... Highly recommended ...' Choice '... meticulous scholarship of this work ...' Katherine Knight, Folklore '... a great contribution to the theory of literature ...' Lisa Goldfarb, Wallace Stevens Journal
EAN: 9780521855105
ISBN: 0521855101
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: Februar 2006
Seitenanzahl: 291 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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