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A Little History of Poetry, by
John Carey

A Little History of Poetry by John Carey

Published: March 10, 2020

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UK, Europe and Rest of World

Hardback

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North America

A vital, engaging, and hugely enjoyable guide to poetry, from ancient times to the present, by one of our greatest champions of literature

What is poetry? If music is sound organized in a particular way, poetry is a way of organizing language. It is language made special so that it will be remembered and valued. It does not always work—over the centuries countless thousands of poems have been forgotten. This little history is about some that have not.

John Carey tells the stories behind the world’s greatest poems, from the oldest surviving one written nearly four thousand years ago to those being written today. Carey looks at poets whose works shape our views of the world, such as Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Yeats. He also looks at more recent poets, like Derek Walcott, Marianne Moore, and Maya Angelou, who have started to question what makes a poem “great” in the first place. This little history shines a light on the richness and variation of the world’s poems—and the elusive quality that makes them all the more enticing.

About the author

John Carey

John Carey is emeritus professor at Oxford. His books include The Essential “Paradise Lost,” What Good Are the Arts?, studies of Donne and Dickens, and a biography of William Golding. The Unexpected Professor, his memoir, was a Sunday Times best-seller …

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About the illustrator

Hand holding plum/ illustration by Nick Morley

Nick Morley is an artist and illustrator based in Margate. He makes prints and drawings in his studio at the Pie Factory A particular passion is linocuts, which Nick promotes through his Linocutboy blog, exhibitions, writings and workshops.

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