Transcendental Wordplay

Transcendental Wordplay

America's Romantic Punsters and the Search for the Language of Nature

eBook - 2000
Rate this:
Chicago Distribution Center
Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, America was captivated by a muddled notion of “etymology.” New England Transcendentalism was only one outcropping of a nationwide movement in which schoolmasters across small-town America taught students the roots of words in ways that dramatized religious issues and sparked wordplay.

Shaped by this ferment, our major romantic authors shared the sensibility that Friedrich Schlegel linked to punning and christened “romantic irony.” Notable punsters or etymologists all, they gleefully set up as sages, creating jocular masterpieces from their zest for oracular wordplay. Their search for a primal language lurking beneath all natural languages provided them with something like a secret language that encodes their meanings. To fathom their essentially comic masterpieces we must decipher it.

Interpreting Thoreau as an ironic moralist, satirist, and social critic rather than a nature-loving mystic, Transcendental Wordplay suggests that the major American Romantics shared a surprising conservatism. In this award-winning study, Professor West rescues the pun from critical contempt and allows readers to enjoy it as a serious form of American humor.


Book News
West (English, U. of Pittsburgh) interprets Thoreau as an ironic moralist, satirist, and social critic rather than as a nature-loving mystic, and suggests that the major American Romantics shared a surprising conservatism. In his own words, the study is of interest to "anyone curious about what the origins of words have to teach us, the links between language study and literature, the intellectual pretensions of America's English teachers, and how good writers learn to transcend their lessons." He rescues the pun from critical contempt and presents riddles, acrostics, anagrams, dirty jokes, and other forms of wordplay as a serious form of American humor. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Athens : Ohio University Press, ©2000
ISBN: 9780821440537
0821440535
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xxiv, 518 pages) : illustrations

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at NPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top