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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction to English peotry
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...
Published on 23 Jan 2004 by Irfan Zakiuddin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition lets down the side
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...
Published on 10 July 2012 by Leseratte


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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction to English peotry, 23 Jan 2004
By 
Irfan Zakiuddin (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: An Introduction to English Poetry (Paperback)
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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for any aspiring poet, 23 Mar 2006
By 
doublegone (scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An Introduction to English Poetry (Paperback)
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This opened my eyes to poetry, 17 Aug 2011
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J. Hughes - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition lets down the side, 10 July 2012
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This review is from: An Introduction to English Poetry (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction for the initiated, 11 Sep 2013
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, 5 April 2013
This review is from: An Introduction to English Poetry (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible & Informative Introduction, 18 May 2012
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This review is from: An Introduction to English Poetry (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Both technical and felt, 9 Dec 2014
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I have been dipping in and out of Out of Danger for years now, after seeing Fenton read at Aldeburgh. It is good to have this collection of essays that is reassuringly brusque and business-like. He goes to his job and gets you along on his side. I love the talk of metrics that slides so beautifully from the technical to the felt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Read, 15 Dec 2012
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This book had a marvellous writing style which made it very engaging and easy to read. It was both educational and enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who needs or wnats to know more about the technical side of poetry.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction, 8 Sep 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An Introduction to English Poetry (Paperback)
Together with Stephen Fry's more recent "The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within", Fenton's "Introduction" is excellent and they make a good pair.

Many see poetry as the fare for the rich man's table, the taste of the elite and an upper and middle-class activity rather than an endeavour to describe the moving multiplicity of human life in language which captures the moments to make them available to all.

In twenty-two loosely connected sections, James Fenton (like Stephen Fry) takes readers through what makes poetry tick - its anatomy, vital organs, life sources before we meet some living examples. (If readers see what I mean!)

Metre, syntax, figures of speech and everything else are included in easily read chapters. I bought it for students as a basic introduction and it seemed to work with the more open-minded. Minds needing to be prised open may enjoy Fry's book a little more, especially the "rude bits" and his CD. Three good companions.

Recommended
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An Introduction to English Poetry
An Introduction to English Poetry by James Fenton (Paperback - 29 May 2003)
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