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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Whereas earlier scholarship has tended to undervalue Hobbes’s contributions to the field of poetry and literary criticism, recent work has argued for a more prominent role for poetry and the poet within Hobbes’s philosophy. At the time of writing Leviathan, it has been suggested, Hobbes came to believe that the poet might have a genuinely philosophical role to play, but he was inconsistent or confused in his articulation of this position. Against claims for the philosophical importance of poetry and confusions or inconsistencies in Hobbes’s thinking, this chapter argues that Hobbes was consistently clear about the nature and scope of poetry and the role of the poet, which is restricted to the creation of fictional narratives in verse built on philosophical foundations. The poet’s sphere of competence is tightly restricted, and poetry itself so narrowly defined as to exclude most of Hobbes’s original verse productions.

Keywords: literary criticism, fiction, philosophy and poetry, poetry, rhetoric

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