[UCP Books]: The Substance of Shadow: A Darkening Trope in Poetic History


A Darkening Trope in Poetic History

By John Hollander
Edited by Kenneth Gross


US Publication Date: June 27, 2016 Cloth $29.00 / £20.50
International Publication Date: July 11, 2016 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-35427-9

John Hollander, poet and scholar, was a master whose work joined luminous learning and imaginative risk. This book, based on the unpublished Clark Lectures Hollander delivered at Cambridge University, witnesses his power to shift the horizons of our thinking, as he traces the history of shadow in British and American poetry from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century.

Taking up a vast range of texts—from the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton to Poe, Dickinson, Eliot, and Stevens—Hollander describes how metaphors of shadow influence our ideas of dreaming, desire, doubt, and death. Crucially, Hollander explores how shadows in poetic history become things with a strange substance and life of their own: they acquire the power to console, haunt, stalk, wander, threaten, command, and destroy. Shadow speaks, even sings, revealing to us the lost as much as the hidden self. An extraordinary blend of literary analysis and speculative thought, Hollander’s account of the substance of shadow lays bare the substance of poetry itself.


John Hollander (1929–2013) was the Sterling Professor of English at Yale University and the author of more than thirty books of poetry and literary criticism. Kenneth Gross is the Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Rochester. He is the author, most recently, of Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life, also published by the University of Chicago Press.



Please contact Rose Rittenhouse at (773) 702-0376 or rittenhouse@uchicago.edu for more information.


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