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Rhythm in Literature after the Crisis in Verse

Paragraph Volume 33, Number 2

Edited by Peter Dayan, David Evans

Paperback (Printed to Order)

Before the ‘crise de vers’ which Mallarmé diagnosed in the 1880s, just as rhythm in music had to do with note values and repeated patterns, so rhythm in literature could be safely sought in the analysable patterns of metrical verse. The crisis abolished that security: free verse and prose poetry destroyed the privilege of the old countable rhythms. Yet the conviction that rhythm is fundamental to literature survived that destruction. How? Why? Is there really anything one can say, any theory that can measure up to rhythm since the crisis, to a rhythm that cannot be localised in measurable convention? Tracing rhythm as it unfolds in the work of post-crisis writers from Valéry, Woolf, Campana, and the Dadaists, via the strange history of Russian verse under Communism, to Réda, Cortázar, and John Wilkinson, this volume seeks to found such a theory precisely in the space between rhythm’s elusiveness as a general concept, and the continuing specific force of its presence in the works of literature.

About the Author

Peter Dayan is Professor of Word and Music Studies in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh

David Evans is Lecturer in the School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews

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