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Canons and Wisdoms

Canons and Wisdoms

Albert Cook

200 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth 1993 | ISBN 9780812232042 | $79.95s | Outside the Americas £64.00
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512801293 | Buy from Combined Academic Publishers £64.00
An Anniversary Collection volume

"Albert Cook considers what it is that perdures in literature, what ensures its survival despite all temptations to reduce poetry to statements or to feelings. Canons and Wisdoms is a fascinating, unique, and irreducible essay. Bearing the fruits of a lifelong meditation, this book is the most challenging and most personal of Cook's works."—Marshall Brown, University of Washington
In Canons and Wisdoms, Albert Cook addresses what is arguable the most profound question about poetry and literature: What is its human value? Cook claims that the value lies in the special yield of wisdom rich, full, and not available in other forms of human discourse. This somewhat traditional position is reinforced by the related arguments of such philosophers as Adorno and Heidegger, and by other works in Renaissance poetry and modern poetry and fiction, where the sense of the work becomes clearer when it is seen in the light of such a question.

Cook addresses what can be claimed for poetry and literature after all due allowance has been made for the relativity of canons, the subjectivity of the literary experience, and the subtle and comprehensive effects of received expectations. Such questions have dominated recent discussions about the value of literature. The nature of all human utterance argues for its being aimed at social inclusion, formalized as a canon, even though such a notion must remain ideal.

Canons and Wisdoms is an eloquent and original contribution to the ongoing debate about the canon. It is the work of an experienced, erudite, and individualistic scholar working at the intersection of philosophy and literary theory and criticism.

Albert Cook was Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, English, and Classics at Brown University. He was the author of many works of criticism, including History/Writing and Temporalizing Space: The Triumphant Strategies of Piero della Francesca.

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