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The Literature of Ecstasy   By: (1885-)

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Transcriber's Notes: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been left as in the original except in the Index where the spelling has been changed to match the spelling in the body of the text. A complete list of corrections follows the text. Other notes also follow the text.

Words in italics in the original are surrounded by underscores . Ellipses match the original. A row of asterisks represents a thought break.

THE LITERATURE OF ECSTASY

BY

ALBERT MORDELL Author of: The Erotic Motive in Literature Dante and Other Waning Classics The Shifting of Literary Values

BONI AND LIVERIGHT Publishers New York

THE LITERATURE OF ECSTASY

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY BONI & LIVERIGHT, INC.

Printed in the United States of America

CONTENTS

PAGE CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION 9

CHAPTER II. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ECSTASY 18

CHAPTER III. ECSTASY, NOT RHYTHM, ESSENTIAL TO POETRY 42

CHAPTER IV. PROSE THE NATURAL LANGUAGE OF THE LITERATURE OF ECSTASY 77

CHAPTER V. PROSE PRECEDES VERSE HISTORICALLY 96

CHAPTER VI. BLANK VERSE AND FREE VERSE AS FORMS OF PROSE 111

CHAPTER VII. MORAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL IDEAS AS POETRY WHEN WRITTEN WITH ECSTASY 123

CHAPTER VIII. POETRY RISES ABOVE ART FOR ART'S SAKE AND INTUITION 138

CHAPTER IX. HIGH FORM OF POETRY ECSTATIC PRESENTATION OF ADVANCED SOCIAL IDEALS 152

CHAPTER X. LITERATURE OF ECSTASY EMANATES FROM THE UNCONSCIOUS 179

CHAPTER XI. LOVE ECSTASY IN ARABIAN POETRY 203

CHAPTER XII. CONCLUSION 226

THE LITERATURE OF ECSTASY

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

From time immemorial it has been assumed that poetry is something which is caviare to the general public. A "poem" even to day is supposed to be a literary composition that is in artificial language arranged in a metrical pattern, often conveying a trite idea or enshrining an ineffective image. Thousands of volumes and essays have been written on poetry, and instead of fathoming a true conception of its nature, they have dealt with the trappings and garments which clothe it; these indeed have often been confused with poetry itself. As a result, there has grown around the pathway leading to poetry an endless maze of shrubbery. The reader who has no knowledge of rules and laws relating to verse, who is ignorant of technical requirements and established uses, labors under the delusion that he does not like poetry. Though he reads many works in prose that stir a deep emotional appeal within him, he does not regard himself as one of those lovers who haunt the foot of Parnassus Hill.

I wish in this volume to present a conception of poetry freed from academic and conventional standards. I wish to restore to the term poetry its primary and fundamental significance as a verbal composition in which the predominating feature is ecstasy. Poetry is an emotional atmosphere that pervades all literature in its finest parts; it characterizes any purely personal expression of the creative imagination. As the reader perceives, my definition of poetry includes prose literature in which ecstasy is present. I do not think of poetry as a branch of literature couched in a metrical form, following regular rules of rhythm, diction, figures of speech or rhyme. My conception of poetry then, is not that of a department of literature which is opposed to prose, but of an emotional spirit hovering over any kind of writing, whether in verse or prose, which conveys ecstasy.

I shall try to show especially that the prose literature of ecstasy fulfils all the intrinsic conditions which have been associated with poetry... Continue reading book >>




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