William Empson: Among The Mandarins (William Empson)
John HaffendenISBN: 0199276595;
Book DescriptionWilliam Empson (1906-1984) was the foremost English literary critic of the twentieth century. He was a man of huge energy and curiosity, and a genuine eccentric who remained imperturbable in the face of all the extraordinary circumstancesin which he found himself. The discovery of contraceptives in his possession by a bedmaker at Cambridge University led to his being robbed of a promised Fellowship. Yet Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), drafted while he was still an undergraduate, promptly brought him world-wide fame. Empson invented modern literary criticism in English. He acted too as a cultural fifth-columnist, challenging received doctrine in life and literature. "It is a very good thing for a poet . . . to be saying something which is considered very shocking at the time," he maintained. "To become morally independent of one's formative society . . . is the grandest theme of all literature, because it is the only means of moral progress." His public life took him...
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