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Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures
Leonard Barkan

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"This is an impressive, challenging, highly innovative study on a subject that we thought we knew by heart: the relationships, either pacific or antagonistic, between words and images. . . . At first sight, Barkan's approach combines the best of historical criticism and deconstruction, which is already quite an achievement in itself, but the most admirable quality of his analyses is both the tightening and the broadening of this age-old debate. On the one hand, Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures brings together a wide range of works, authors, sources, interpretations, debates, and concepts that are most of the times separated or only partially covered in most historical overviews. . . . The power that drives his book from the first till the last line is the desire to compare apples and oranges, and the skepticism that arises when apples and oranges are put aside in different baskets."--Jan Baetens, Leonardo on-line

"Like an oil well kissed by Midas, Leonard Barkan keeps on pumping gold. . . . Even after fifty years of scholarship and theorizing about words and pictures, this book will be indispensable to anyone who wants to understand not just the relations between the two, but the fascinating history of those relations in poetry, theory, and visual art itself."--James A. W. Heffernan, Renaissance Quarterly

"Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures provides an excellent contribution to the growing body of work over recent years on the history and theory of ekphrasis. It reflects the increasing fascination among poets, critics and academics with the relationship of literary texts to the visual arts."--Peter Gillies, Stride


"In this inspired book, Leonard Barkan traces the origins and transformations of the word-image conundrum in art and literature from Plato to Shakespeare, providing a deeply learned and often brilliant meditation on a central theme of contemporary aesthetics and cultural history. This is vintage Barkan--a seductive book, written with eloquence and insight, and giving much pleasure and intellectual profit."--Marvin Trachtenberg, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

"Vibrant, insightful, and elegantly written, this book reflects a lifetime of thought by a master of his subject."--Jaś Elsner, University of Oxford and University of Chicago

"A dazzling display of erudition spiced with humor and rhetorical wizardry, this book will interest anyone who cares about pictures or words--and what else is there?"--Michael Ann Holly, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

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File created: 4/24/2017

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