This book examines the function of truth in poetry in an age when both knowledge and truth have been defined in empirical and scientific terms. Professor McGann argues that for two hundred years imaginative writing has been seen as a literature of power rather than a literature of knowledge - a view standing at the core of all Kantian and Romantic aesthetics, which, throughout that time, have dominated the ideas of Euro-American studies. Emerging from the postmodern critique of those traditions, he considers the work of four writers of the period - Blake, Byron, D. G. Rossetti, and Pound - in discussing ways in which poetry may be seen to possess truth-functions and to constitute a pursuit of knowledge. Towards a Literature of Knowledge was delivered as the Clark Lecture at Trinity College, and as the Carpenter Lecture at the University of Chicago, both in 1988. It is the fifth and final work in a series which began in 1983 with The Romantic Ideology. Among the related works, The Beauty of Inflections (OUP, 1985) is now available in paperback (Clarendon Paperbacks, GBP12.95).
From reviews of The Beauty of Inflections (OUP 1985, Clarendon Paperbacks 1988):
'Few practising critics can speak concurrently on scholarly, critical, and theoretical issues with the authority of McGann.' Modern Language Notes
'has great clarity and great force'
Times Literary Supplement
'McGann's book has real strengths in its reading of Blake ... a powerful intellectual effort'
Murray G.H. Pittock, Notes & Queries, Vol.235, No.4, December 1990
'McGann's critical project still makes absorbing reading, and not least so because he consciously places his interpretation into the field where the painter-poet's own writings meet with "the three principal 'lines' of Blake criticism" ... and the various postulates attached to them.'
Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, Volume 25, Number 1, Summer 1991
List of illustrations; Introduction; William Blake illuminates the truth; Lord Byron's twin opposites of truth; Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or the truth betrayed; The Cantos of Ezra Pound, the truth in contradiction; Towards a literature of knowledge