A study of affect in the poetry of Edward Lear, T. S. Eliot, and Stevie Smith that offers a new understanding of feeling and emotion in poetry, and illustrates a feedback-effect between poetic composition and real-life affects.
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Rich with unpublished material and detailed insight, Rhythms of Feeling offers a new reading of three of the most celebrated poets: Edward Lear, T.S. Eliot, and Stevie Smith. Tracing exciting lines of interplay, affinity, and influence between these writers for the first time, the book shifts the terms of critical debate on Lear, Eliot, and Smith and subtly reorients the traditional account of the genealogies of Modernism. Going beyond a
biographically-framed close reading or a more general analysis framed by affect theory, the volume traces these poets' 'affective rhythms' (fits, tears, nerves) to consider the way that poetics, the mental and physical process of writing and reading, and the ebbs and flows of their emotional weather might be in dialogue.
Attentive, acute, and often forensic, the book broadens its reach to contemporary writers and medical accounts of creativity and cognition. Alongside deep critical study, this volume seeks to bring emotional intelligence to criticism, finding ways of speaking lucidly and humanely about emotional and physical states that defy lucidity and stretch our sense of the human.