The Poet's Mistake

The Poet's Mistake

Paperback (07 Jul 2020) | English

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Synopsis

What our tendency to justify the mistakes in poems reveals about our faith in poetry-and about how we read

Keats mixed up Cortez and Balboa. Heaney misremembered the name of one of Wordsworth's lakes. Poetry-even by the greats-is rife with mistakes. In The Poet's Mistake, critic and poet Erica McAlpine gathers together for the first time numerous instances of these errors, from well-known historical gaffes to never-before-noticed grammatical incongruities, misspellings, and solecisms. But unlike the many critics and other readers who consider such errors felicitous or essential to the work itself, she makes a compelling case for calling a mistake a mistake, arguing that denying the possibility of error does a disservice to poets and their poems.

Tracing the temptation to justify poets' errors from Aristotle through Freud, McAlpine demonstrates that the study of poetry's mistakes is also a study of critical attitudes toward mistakes, which are usually too generous-and often at the expense of the poet's intentions. Through remarkable close readings of Wordsworth, Keats, Browning, Clare, Dickinson, Crane, Bishop, Heaney, Ashbery, and others, The Poet's Mistake shows that errors are an inevitable part of poetry's making and that our responses to them reveal a great deal about our faith in poetry-and about how we read.

About the Publisher

Princeton University Press

Princeton University Press

We seek to publish the innovative works of the greatest minds in academia, from the most respected senior scholar to the extraordinarily promising graduate student, in each of the disciplines in which we publish. The Press consciously acquires a collection of titles--a coherent "list" of books--in each discipline, providing focus, continuity, and a basis for the development of future publications.

Book information

ISBN: 9780691203492
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Pub date:
Language: English
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 478g
Height: 155mm
Width: 234mm
Spine width: 21mm