The sense of early modern writing

Rhetoric, poetics, aesthetics

Author: Mark Robson

This book draws together three areas from which sense is made: rhetoric, poetics and aesthetics. Coming to terms with rhetoric, poetics and aesthetics is essential for understanding not only early modern writing but also a certain influential narrative of modernity. This notion of modernity is not a purely literary one, and the author's discussion has nothing to say about artistic ideas of modernism. The book demonstrates the necessity of reading, but of a reading that is always local, located, limited - always aware, that is, of its limitations. To claim to have read a few texts is not as small a claim as it might at first appear. In the current historicist climate, reading has, like rhetoric, become somehow unfashionable except as a topic for excavation. The first part of the book elaborates the connections between rhetoric, aesthetics and literature. Frequent recourse is made to rhetorical treatises, but equally frequently there are discussions of material that comes from periods other than the early modern, both earlier and later. The second part of the book focuses on either an aspect of the body related to the sense of reading or on the deliberate disavowal of the body and its senses.

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