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An Introduction to English Poetry [Kindle Edition]

James Fenton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

James Fenton's An Introduction to English Poetry offers a master class for both the reader and writer of poetry. Simply and elegantly written and discussing the work of poets as wide ranging as W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, Tennyson, Kipling, Milton and Blake, it covers all varieties of poetic practice in English.

'It is hard to imagine a beginner who could not learn from [this book]. If you know a young poet, give them this' The Times Literary Supplement

Product Description


'It is hard to imagine a beginner who could not learn from [this book]. If you know a young poet, give them this' The Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Until recently James Fenton was Professor of Poetry at Oxford. A former political journalist (he was south-east Asia correspondent for the Independent), he also served as drama critic for the Sunday Times for seven years, and writes regularly on artfor the New Yorker. He has published four books of poems in Penguin. He lives outside Oxford and in London.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 756 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (29 May 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141004398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141004396
  • ASIN: B002XHNMS0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #51,680 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction to English peotry 23 Jan. 2004
A brilliant book! The 22 loosely connected essays, that form the chapters of this book, are enjoyable and easy to read, but instructive and illuminating at the same time. An accomplised poet, James Fenton clearly understands both the technicalities and the aesthetics of English poetry very well. And in this book I think he does a fine job of communicating both, with a light smattering of his, obviously extensive, erudition.

After reading this book I understand not simply what metre is, and what some of the metrical techniques are, but I also understand how to appreciate metre much better, and how metre contributes to the overall poetic achievement. And that is what I liked. But what is particularly impressive is that this knowledge and understanding is communicated by a series of short and simple essays, which are the book chapters. You can read and learn something worthwhile in ten minutes - or perhaps even less.

Too often in studies of literature a reader can feel oppressed by the erudition of the writer; but not here. James Fenton uses his knowledge of poetry well, it helps him to instruct, and it inspires our apprecation of the peotic concept and of the quoted poet. Perhaps the best example of this is his quote from Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel. I had barely heard of Dryden, but after reading the chapter that quotes Absalom and Achitophel I am left thinking, "I want to read that poem, and more Dryden."

In short if you want to learn about English poetry and be better able to appreciate it, then read this book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This opened my eyes to poetry 17 Aug. 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I arrived at this book by coincidence; after reading a series of books on grammar and the construction of prose combined with the bibliography from Hitch 22 I was inspired to learn more about Poetry, and James Fenton seemed best qualified to make that introduction.

Previously I had seen poetry as a fairly self-indulgent and pretentious pursuit, but during the course of this book I came to appreciate how technical constraints provide a framework for expressing ideas. The chapters are able to break down what poetry is, James Fenton defines the concepts and rules of the form in an interesting and none-patronising way. It also avoids the aspects that may deter many readers, namely: what the subjects of poetry should be (this is left entirely to the reader). The examples are chosen for their illustrative merit (e.g. demonstrating Iambic Pentameter) and do not try to to do the job of an anthology.

I enjoy instructional books that cover basic principals, leaving the reader to practice and study how to use them. An Introduction to English Poetry will likely be read and reread by those who wish to appreciate and/or write poetry.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for any aspiring poet 23 Mar. 2006
By doublegone TOP 500 REVIEWER
Accessible, readable, useable, brilliant. The best book for the aspiring poet I have ever seen. The author is an academic but you don't need to be to get his points.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction for the initiated 11 Sept. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While this is an excellent book on the mechanics of poetry: prosody, form and analysis, all sadly neglected in our 'what is this poem about,' lines of inquiry. However, this is not the book to give somebody to convince them to give poetry a try. Rather it will supplement the enjoyment of those who already read it. Some of the metrical examples will interest only those with a back ground in English Literature. In short, an excellent book with a misleading title.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition lets down the side 10 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would agree with all the positive views about this book. I read it virtually at a single sitting, and found it outstanding. Readable and informative, the author's common-sense about and love for the subject shine through on all levels.
However, my Kindle edition is not well formatted, nor free of 'typos', particularly with regard to the poems as they are printed on the page. When passages are about metrics and verse forms, it becomes almost impossible to disentangle them at times. It was clearly not edited, and given the price, I think we Kindle customers deserve better. So my three stars is for the Kindle edition, specifically.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible & Informative Introduction 18 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Poetry was the area of English literature I was least confident about teaching when asked to deliver a module three years ago. It took me time to build up resources and develop confidence. Now I thoroughly enjoy it, but still found James Fenton's introduction a joy to read and very informative.

I buy a lot of books. When I think my teaching is growing stale I buy books, but rarely find the time to read them properly. I opened this and read the introduction. Then I sat down and read it cover to cover. Lots of examples given. Fenton assumes no previous knowledge and delivers a master class that has all the hallmarks of someone who knows and enjoys their subject.

How I wish I had this to start with when I took on that module three years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 5 April 2013
By Daniel
Quick, sharp and easily readable, without slowing down for a readership. His enthusiasm for and explanation of metre, including blank verse and shorter lines, was particularly appreciated when reading it. I would highly recommend the book, which has certainly helped me understand and appreciate the efforts made by the great poets. It has left me wanting to read far more poetry than I already have, particularly the older, metrical and structured poems I am still rather unacquainted with.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Both technical and felt
I have been dipping in and out of Out of Danger for years now, after seeing Fenton read at Aldeburgh. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jasonín d'Asturies
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
started reading it and am hooked already will be finished shortly lovely book
Published 9 months ago by abird918
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Bit disappointed with this
Published 10 months ago by Mavis
3.0 out of 5 stars Poetry
I struggle with poetry and was recommended this book to help my but it has not solved it for me
Published 13 months ago by pip
3.0 out of 5 stars smaller than I thought
I haven't started reading it yet but it's certainly a small book with few poems in it, just a way of criticising them. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Rosemary Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Read
This book had a marvellous writing style which made it very engaging and easy to read. It was both educational and enjoyable. Read more
Published on 15 Dec. 2012 by Catherine Gilliland
1.0 out of 5 stars A book about stanzas with obliterated stanzas
The Kindle version is £1 more than the print one. However the poems are formatted so badly as to make the chapter on stanzas, in particular, almost useless. Read more
Published on 1 Nov. 2012 by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars A very patronising book
If you can get through a rather blinkered and uninformed introduction, technically this little book it fine.

It's such a shame the author spoilt it with pomposity. Read more
Published on 21 Aug. 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to English Poetry
I received the product in the terms stipulated, it was as described. Thanks and looking forward to buying from you again.Regards.
Published on 15 Dec. 2011 by Siman
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