Difficult but great read.
By M. H. Abrams
W. W. Norton & Company, 25.95, 256 pages
M. H. Abrams has a doctorate from Harvard University, is a professor emeritus of English at Cornell University, and is the founding editor emeritus of The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that his latest work, The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and Other Essays, is neither an easy nor light read for the nonacademic reader. However, if readers are willing to puzzle and persevere, Abrams’ essays provide ample food for thought.
In this nine-essay collection published as the author turns 100 years old, Abrams discusses such topics as the physical component of making sounds as the unappreciated fourth dimension of poetry, weaknesses in the critical theories of Foucault and Derrida, how to prove an interpretation of poetry, and the works of Keats, Kant, and Hazlett. While some may find Abrams’ fourth dimension a bit of a stretch, these essays are undeniably well written and supported. His critique of post-structuralism is particularly enjoyable, as is his painstaking analysis of Wordsworth’s “A Slumber”. While most likely a challenge for the layman, Abrams’ essays are worth the effort.
Reviewed By Annie Peters