Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Less Can Be More

TLS January 16 2015

from Paul Davis's review of The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick, edited by Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly:

In fact, Herrick was a pioneer of print authorship, as the exemplary scholarship on Hesperides in this edition confirms. It has long been recognized that Herrick was the first English poet to see a collected edition of his own verse through the press, but here we learn how closely he involved himself in the production process, perhaps even to the extent of demanding in-press corrections not only to rectify printing errors, but also as las-minute poetic refinements.  
The various forces pressing editors towards ever more maximal feats of scholarship need to be answered by a counterbalancing impulse towards selection and concentration. Attempting to compete with online databases on the score of comprehensiveness is a fool's errand; nor should print editors be cowed into confusing comprehensiveness with objectivity. They need instead to play to their distinctive strengths, now more valuable than ever: authoritative summation of a complex body of knowledge. and its presentation to the reader in usable form. As Herrick might have said, less can be more.


***

from Sharon Ruston's review of Martin Priestman's The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin: Enlightened Spaces, Romantic Times:


The endstopped couplet is found to be the "perfect vehicle for moving rapidly between diverse fields of knowledge", as in the move between mythology and physiology in The Economy of Vegetation.... Such poetic techniques are identified and fruitfully examined by Priestman; they are seen to contribute importantly to Darwin's aim to prioritize "the pictorial space of his verse over its musical time". 
... The ways in which Darwin's poems are considered spatial rather than temporal are both myriad and persuasive. Priestman looks at the material page of the text, the paratextual notes and the poems' framing devices, such as the use of gardens at the start of Darwin's poems, which establish "the poem as a space to be explored".  
... Darwin's poems are "a space to wander in" rather than concerned with the "'organic', tree-like growth" we witness in the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge. 



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