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The Poetry Handbook [Paperback]

John Lennard
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
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Book Description

2 Mar 2006 0199265380 978-0199265381 2
This volume is a lucid and entertaining guide to the poet's craft, and an invaluable introduction to practical criticism for students. Chapters on each element of poetry offer a wide-ranging general account and end by looking at different poems, to build up sustained analytical readings. The second edition-fully revised, expanded, updated, and supported by a new companion website-confirm The Poetry Handbook as the best guide to poetry available in English.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 2 edition (2 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199265380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199265381
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Lennard succeeds in being as exhaustive as he can possibly be..." -- Caroline Bertoneche, Universite de Provence

"Very readable... gives and excellent overview of poetry in English and will explain rhythm, metre and style." -- The Observer, February 2006

About the Author

John Lennard has taught at the universities of London and Cambridge, and for the Open University. He has published three books: But I Digress (1991), the best-selling Poetry Handbook (1996) and The Drama Handbook (2002). He is presently Dean of the Shakespeare Programme at the British-American Drama Academy in London; on the Global Virtual Faculty of Fairleigh Dickinson University; and teaches for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the engine-room 2 Mar 2011
By Laertes
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for those who want to know how poems work. It is primarily concerned with poetry's "nuts and bolts". And it handles that well. If you like Ruth Padel's "52 Poems" and "60 Poems", you will find a lot here to interest you.
When you have read it, it will remain a handy reference for terms used in poetry, for how to punctuate more or less anything, for information on layout and on lineation, for information on syntax, and so on - all in neat sections in the text, easy to find, clearly explained, and all necessary for the appreciation of poetry. The treatment of rhythm and rhyme is basic but good. On criticism and theory the book is a little light, limiting itself to three fairly short chapters, "History", "Biography", and "Gender".
I realise that a single book, even one called "The Poetry Handbook", will not be able to cover everything in depth. For this reason I would recommend that someone new to the study of poetry read alongside it another book to get a fuller picture, something like "Beginning Theory" by Peter Barry or even the "Very Short Introduction to Literary Theory" by Jonathan Culler.
This is not to put down this book at all. I still rate this book at four stars for what it achieves, because it does that very well; and its associated website should remain as useful as the printed text.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More is less 11 May 2009
While this book is undeniably comprehensive, it is over-written and the author's voice is very intrusive and off-putting. The sub-chapters are not broken down into easy-to-use sections (I wanted to find out more about free verse and was left wading through pages of indulgent waffle); and for a book which claims to have been written as a 'crib' for students, I won't be using it as a reference book in future with any relish.

For beginners to intermediates, I would recommend Stephen Fry's excellent, witty 'The Ode less Travelled' which is much more accessible and enjoyable to read, and makes writing your own poetry pleasantly challenging. It's also much cheaper.

Terry Eagleton's 'How to read a Poem' is aimed at a similar, academic market to 'The Poetry Handbook' and I found that book far preferable and more persuasive, although admittedly not as thorough.

Overall, I was very disappointed with this book, particularly as I'd come to expect more from Oxford. If you have to read it, then good luck: if you don't, shop around first.
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44 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this fabulous book 18 Feb 2006
The first edition of John Lennard's The Poetry Handbook (it was red) changed my whole approach to reading and writing, so that I wonder now whether I actually was reading at all before Lennard taught me how. Anybody who reads or writes would benefit from attending to The Poetry Handbook, especially if you don't much like poetry.
If you are a student of English, either at A level or at university, and you are not using The Poetry Handbook then you are not at the races. The candidates who have are athletes on stanozolol. Have a look round the exam room: Lennard's readers are the ones who have been coached in Practical Criticism and can perform; if you don't know this stuff then you are just … busking.
And if you love Poetry, Lennard will widen hugely the range of poems you can get into your bloodstream.
The book is poem in its own right. Elizabeth Bishop’s Sestina is tetrametric when most are pentametric and thus have more room for manoeuvre between the repeated endwords. Lennard calls this “a wider slalom”: once read, never forgotten.
This new edition (it’s blue) is porkier than its predecessor, which is great for the ordinary enthusiastic reader like me: it's got even more delicious ingredients, more poems, more ingenious readings that are none the less NAILED to the texts. So for the ordinary reader Blue Lennard is porkier in a good way. Buy Blue Lennard because you enjoyed Red Lennard.
For the teacher Blue Lennard is very obviously an improvement on what was already a good textbook: there are exercises at the end of each chapter and many more examples. For a teacher running a class it's a technically a much better sausage for being porkier.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expensive but really well written 19 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book really explains poetry well. It uses famous examples to illustrate its points plus one poem which recurs throughout the different subject ares.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I HAVE BECOME A DICIPLE 6 July 2011
By ivor
This book is written to answer all my questions. I am looking forward to using this book as a resource that will never go out of date. Other books I have bought to help me understand the technical aspects of poetry have been short of something I could not put my finger on, which was frustrating. In this book I am given answers to questions I could not put into words. So I believe the author to be a gifted and intuitive teacher. With questions to answer and exercises to complete I am given the opportunity to test my grasp of the teaching. There is no point in trying to fool myself.
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