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date: 08 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews a wide range of classical and humanist views on the use of metaphor. It attempts to establish the historical norm adopted by Augustan critics such as Johnson, Trapp, and Kames and to indicate how they assimilated Baconian or Hobbesian views of figurative language. With the exception of Longinus, we see a consistent critique of extended metaphor—and argument—that goes back as far as Aristotle. We may see the period from late medieval to Baroque in Europe as representing a poetic anomaly, which is only thinly supported by contemporary criticism. Even as late as Dryden, we see excesses in figurative speech which may not be allowed by later critics. The essay ends with a selection of Johnson’s views on Metaphysical poetry as the locus classicus of the neo-humanist understanding of the use of metaphor in poetry.

Keywords: poetry, metaphor, figurative language, criticism, Metaphysical poetry

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