Twentieth-Century Metapoetry and the Lyric Tradition reveals the unique value of metapoems for exploring twentieth-century poetry. By placing these texts into a hitherto barely investigated literary-historical perspective, it demonstrates that modern metapoetry is steeped in the lyric tradition to a much greater extent than previously acknowledged. Since these literary continuities that cut across epochal boundaries can be traced across all major poetic movements, they challenge established accounts of the history of twentieth-century poetry that postulate a radical break with the (immediate) past. Moreover, the finding that metapoems perpetuate traditional forms and topoi distinguishes metapoetry historically and systematically from metafiction and metadrama. After highlighting the most important differences as regards to the function of metareference in poetry on the one side, and in fiction and drama on the other, the book concludes with a discussion of how to account for these generic differences theoretically. With its "extraordinarily subtle and perceptive" (Ronald Bush, St. John's College, Oxford) interpretive readings of over one hundred metapoems by canonical anglophone authors, it offers the first representative selection of twentieth-century poems about poetry in English.
Daniella Jancsó, Ludwig-Maximillian University, Munich, Germany.