Anyone who has ever said one thing and meant another has spoken in the mode of allegory. The allegorical expression of ideas pervades literature, art, music, religion, politics, business, and advertising. But how does allegory really work and how should we understand it? For more than forty years, Angus Fletcher's classic book has provided an answer that is still unsurpassed for its comprehensiveness, brilliance, and eloquence. With a preface by Harold Bloom and a substantial new afterword by the author, this edition reintroduces this essential text to a new generation of students and scholars of literature and art.
Allegory puts forward a basic theory of allegory as a symbolic mode, shows how it expresses fundamental emotional and cognitive drives, and relates it to a wide variety of aesthetic devices. Revealing the immense richness of the allegorical tradition, the book demonstrates how allegory works in literature and art, as well as everyday speech, sales pitches, and religious and political appeals.
In his new afterword, Fletcher documents the rise of a disturbing new type of allegory--allegory without ideas.
Angus Fletcher is distinguished professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. His most recent books are Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare and A New Theory for American Poetry.
"Allegory is a brilliantly original analytical description of the organization of symbolic fiction; it deals with the most interesting topics and asks the right questions; its examples are learned and fascinatingly offbeat. . . . What Mr. Fletcher has achieved is nothing less than a redescription of literature with allegory at the centre."--Times Literary Supplement
"[S]parkles with fascinating observations."--Modern Philology
"This is still the best account of allegory we have. It is a remarkable fusion of theoretical speculation and brilliant literary analysis. If I were teaching a course on allegory, this would be the major book I would assign."--Stanley Fish, author of How Milton Works
"An enormously valuable tool for understanding complex literary texts like Spenser's Faerie Queene."--Stephen Greenblatt, author of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations ix
A Personal Foreword, Harold Bloom xiii
1. The Daemonic Agent 24
2. The Cosmic Image 69
3. Symbolic Action: Progress and Battle 147
4. Allegorical Causation: Magic and Ritual Forms 181
5. Thematic Effects: Ambivalence, the Sublime, and the Picturesque 221
6. Psychoanalytic Analogues: Obsession and Compulsion 281
7. Value and Intention: The Limits of Allegory 306
Afterword to the 2012 Edition 370