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From the publisher
First published posthumously in 1978 by Manchester University Press, this volume turned sharply against critics of the previous generation, notably William Empson, and against emergent strains of historicism. The book is an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) defence of "all the rhythmic, phonetic, verbal, and logical devices which make poetry different from prose." According to the author, such devices are responsible for poetry's most significant effect-not pleasure or ornament or some kind of special expressivity, but the production of "alternative imaginary orders."