The Stuff of Literature: Physical Aspects of Texts and Their Relation to Literary Meaning

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SUNY Press, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 177 pages
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The total meaning of a work of literature derives not only from what the words mean, but from what the text looks like. This stuff of literature, graphic substance or the physical raw material, is explored here in Levenston's comprehensive survey.

Levenston discusses the main literary genres of poetry, drama, and fiction, and the extent to which they may be said to exist primarily in written or spoken form, or both. He then examines spelling, punctuation, typography, and layout, the four graphic aspects of a text which an author can manipulate for additional meanings. Also explored are the problems raised for translators by graphically unusual texts--and by the possibility of producing graphically unusual translations--and some of the solutions that have been found.

A wealth of examples and analysis is offered, including poetry from Chaucer to Robert Graves and e. e. cummings; fiction such as Tristram Shandy, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake; works from Samuel Richardson to Ronald Sukenik; drama from Aristophanes to Bernard Shaw, and Shakespeare. Attention is also paid to graphic contributions in other literary traditions, from the Hebrew of the book of Psalms to Guillaume Apollinaires's "Calligrammes".
 

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Contents

Literature and the Media of Language
9
Spelling
33
Punctuation
63
Typography
91
Layout
107
Translation
129
Appendix A
147
Sources of Texts
153
Index
167
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About the author (1992)

E. A. Levenston is Professor of English Linguistics at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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