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The Poetry Handbook: A Guide to Reading Poetry for Pleasure and Practical Criticism Paperback – 1 Aug 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Aug 1996
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The Poetry Handbook
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Product details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Printing edition (1 Aug. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198711492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198711490
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 744,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Lennard is a Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
This book is quite frankly indispensable. Every student reading poetry from any era at A-level or university should have this in their bookshelf. John Lennard is a poetry expert, and his expertise bleeds into every sentence of this very dense, but very rewarding book. Love this and wish I'd discovered it earlier.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read the sample and felt I had already learnt enough to cover the cost of the book. Now I have it, is great.

iamb OVER oor ED. |ux|ux|
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good for the college student with well structured and clear language used to explains poetry terms and form. Useful for the 17 year old it was bought for who is doing A level English Literature.
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