Seeking the Beautiful: A Study in Literary Aesthetics


Risden, Edward


Professor of English, St. Norbert College, Author of Shakespeare's Dramatic Maxims: A Politics of Rhetoric and Irony

Seeking the Beautiful: A Study in Literary Aesthetics comprises essays both theoretical and applied, with a focus on English medieval and Renaissance texts. While the term aesthetics may imply simply sensory perception or expression, this volume considers what makes literary texts beautiful. While of course any such study must involve subjective judgment, one can still describe subjective experience and share it with others with the goal of expanding others’ and one’s own potential for enjoying works of literary art.

Academic discussion most often deals with meaning or the social or psychological implications of writing and reading; we tend to neglect what often draws us to read in the first place: a text’s verbal or imaginative beauty. Our favorite texts make us re-readers as well as readers.

Using a variety of examples—including Shakespeare plays, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Worth’s Urania, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, Beowulf, and “The Dream of the Rood.” and others—this study highlights the idea of texture, pleasure through depth, variety, and passionate liveliness, as a means to consider textual beauty. Explicitly an essay, an attempt, it aims to connect theoretical strands from Classical through Postmodern thought to formulate a joy of reading that may encourage dialogue on why we love the literature we love.


Western Literature, Aesthetics, Critical Theory, Literary Theory, Intertextuality, Myth, Fantasy, Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, Shakespeare, Spenser, Worth, Marlowe, Milton, Chaucer, Post-Modern Studies, Epics, Romance Studies, Identity Studies, Subjectivity, Subject
Release Date: 
October 15, 2017
Hardcover: 978-1680530452
Trim Size: 

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