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Lyric

MARION THAIN


Subject Literature » Nineteenth Century Literature, Victorian Literature

Key-Topics music, poetry

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781118405383.2015.x


Extract

The term “lyric” derives from the ancient Greek name of the lyre ( lyra ), a stringed instrument to the accompaniment of which certain kinds of poetry were sung (hence the word lyrikos for “lyric poet”). Yet many literary scholars date the beginning of the formation of the modern conceptualization of lyric as a poetic genre to around the start of the nineteenth century. By virtue of the profound interest in aesthetic schemas and genre hierarchies at that time, the concept of lyric poetry received much attention. The German philosophical tradition was particularly influential in this process of definition, and G. W. F. Hegel devoted a substantial portion of his Lectures on Fine Art (1835) to theorizing lyric as a type of poetry, distinct from “epic” and “dramatic.” For Hegel, lyric poetry was defined by its focus on the “inner life” and was concerned with subjective feelings; yet, within a German idealist tradition, such introspection was, crucially, a means of accessing something outside of the self, something “universal”: in order that this expression may not remain a merely casual expression of an individual's own immediate feelings and ideas, it becomes the language of the poetic inner life, and therefore however intimately the insights and feelings which the poet describes as his own belong to him as a single individual, they must nevertheless possess a universal validity. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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