The Two Harmonies: Poetry and Prose in the Seventeenth Century

The Two Harmonies: Poetry and Prose in the Seventeenth Century

The Two Harmonies: Poetry and Prose in the Seventeenth Century

The Two Harmonies: Poetry and Prose in the Seventeenth Century

Excerpt

This study had its origins in a long-standing interest in the nature of poetry as a unique form of discourse, and, more immediately, in the problems associated with lecturing on the poetry of the seventeenth century to students to whom 'poetry' is likely to mean either Romantic or modern poetry, and who in consequence find their ideas as to what poetry should be inadequate for an appreciation of Dryden in particular.

I have tried to do two main things: firstly, to bring together in a convenient and coherent form a large amount of scattered material, primary and secondary, with a bearing on seventeenth-century ideas of the nature and function of poetry--this in itself would, I hoped, be valuable to students of the period, and because of this interest in the subject from a teaching point of view the background and bibliographical material is sometimes more detailed than the strict requirements of the argument might have demanded; and secondly, from this material to draw some conclusions about the history of literary theory which have not, I think, been so far explicitly stated, and, incidentally, to re-examine some of the conclusions arrived at in other studies of the period. The work would thus serve, I hope, both as a reference book for the study of certain aspects of literary history and theory, and at the same time present its own views on the significance of the material.

I have been very much indebted in this study to other scholars who have worked in this and related fields. I trust that this indebtedness is adequately recorded in the footnotes, but I would particularly mention here W. J. Ong, S.J., George Williamson, Norman Maclean, Bernard Weinberg, D. L. Clark, W. S. Howell, D. F. Bond, and R. F. Jones. Indeed, part of my aim has been to make more widely known, in relation to my own particular interest, the work of these scholars, and I should like to help lead students to those studies to which I have myself been indebted. However, as far as this study . . .

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