The Poetics of Sight by John Harvey featured in Times Higher Education
The Poetics of Sight by John Harvey is featured in the ‘What are you reading?’ section of the Times Higher Education dated 16 July 2015. Read what Richard Howells of King’s College London had to say here.
«Ut pictura poesis», Horace said, but through the two millennia in which «the sister arts» have been compared, little has been said about the nature of sight itself. What we see in «our mind’s eye» as we read has not been explored, though by following the visual prompts in texts, one can anatomize the process of visualization.
The Poetics of Sight analyses the role of sight in memory, dream and popular culture and demonstrates the structure of a complex sight within the metaphors of Shakespeare, Pope and Dickens; and within the visual metaphors of Picasso, Magritte and Bacon. This book explores the difference between the great and the failed works of the supreme poet-painter, William Blake, and tracks the migrations of the Satiric muse between verbal mockery and scabrous images in Persius, Pope, Gillray and Gogol. It records the rise, and partial decline, of the vividly «seen» novel in Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Proust and Hardy.
The key concept throughout this book is visual metaphor, which in the twentieth century acquired overarching importance: in art from Picasso to Kapoor, in poetry from Eliot to Hughes, in aesthetics from Pound to Derrida. The book closes with a far-reaching definition of visual metaphor and with the great visual metaphor of the human body.
Available for purchase here.
John Harvey is a literary critic and novelist. He is a Doctor of Letters of Cambridge University and a Life Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he has lectured in the English Faculty since 1970. In 2000 he was appointed University Reader in Literature and Visual Culture. He is the author of Victorian Novelists and their Illustrators, Men in Black and The Story of Black.