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Implication, Readers' Resources, and Thomas Gray's Pindaric Odes

Frederick M. Keener

Implication, Readers' Resources, and Thomas Gray's Pindaric Odes presents an account of “the Poets’ Secret,” the quite belated, historically recent, discovery by scholars and critics of something many poets have recognized and employed for ages: the sense expressed by allusively parallel parts within a text—thus expressed intratextually rather than only intertextually.

Inferential perception of the implicit sense produced logically and linguistically—by enthymemes, implicatures, and other intratextual features, as well as intertextual ones—can be indispensable for readers’ comprehension of literary as well as other texts, especially their difficult passages.
Implication, Readers' Resources, and Thomas Gray's Pindaric Odes addresses these elusive matters as they have historically been posed by Thomas Gray’s Pindaric odes of 1757, and mainly the first of them, “The Progress of Poesy,” a poem that readers have more or less knowledgeably struggled to understand from the outset. The process of disclosing that ode’s sense can be aided by new further reference to Paradise Lost, in the context of Gray’s largely unpublished Commonplace Book, with its extensive, little-studied, and very pertinent use of Plato and Locke.
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University Press Copublishing Division / University of Delaware Press
Pages: 252Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-61149-414-3 • Hardback • October 2012 • $84.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-61149-524-9 • Paperback • June 2014 • $41.99 • (£27.95)
978-1-61149-415-0 • eBook • October 2012 • $41.99 • (£27.95)
Frederick M. Keener is professor emeritus at Hofstra University. He has published widely in the field of eighteenth-century literature.
Introduction: The Poets’ Secret
Part I. The Cognitive Reception of Gray’s Pindarics
Chapter 1: The “Unintelligible Obscure”
Chapter 2: Legacies Including Samuel Johnson’s
Chapter 3: The Subsequent Progress of Elucidation
Part II. Further Implications of “The Progress of Poesy”
Chapter 4: Logic, Linguistic Semantics, and Pragmatics
Chapter 5: “But Far Above the Great”
Chapter 6: “Beneath the Good How Far”
Epilogue: Locke, Plato, and Gray’s Inferring
About the Author
Interest in poststructuralist exotica has subsided since the theory boom of the 1960s and 1970s. However, one theoretical method, intertextuality studies, has recently enjoyed a modest resurgence. In this area, Keener (Hofstra Univ.) makes a valuable contribution. Given its dense, self-consciously allusive saturation, Gray's poetry lends itself to this focus. Keener dilates primarily on The Progress of Poesy, but offers much more. He urges adoption of "intratextuality," a term "covering a variety of more specific parallels within an individual text," encompassing "instances when a part of a given text recalls one or more parts ... to express sense in that text." Additionally, he contextualizes his discussion in terms of Gray's critical reception, including views of Gray's immediate contemporaries (Samuel Johnson, Hazlitt, Coleridge) and of modern commentators. And he seeks to bag even bigger game, querying the epistemology underpinning cognitive comprehension and inferential apprehension of English poetry from Shakespeare and Milton to T. S. Eliot. With its amplitude and reach, Keener's study joins such indispensable volumes as The Poems of Thomas Gray, William Collins, Oliver Goldsmith, ed. by Roger Lonsdale (1969); Robert L. Mack's eponymous biography (CH, Mar'01, 38-3766); and James Garrison's A Dangerous Liberty: Translating Gray's "Elegy" (CH, Dec'09, 47-1859). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.