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The Consolations of WritingLiterary Strategies of Resistance from Boethius to Primo Levi$
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Rivkah Zim

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161808

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161808.001.0001

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The Disciplines of Reason and Lyric Poetry

The Disciplines of Reason and Lyric Poetry

(p.21) Chapter 1 The Disciplines of Reason and Lyric Poetry
The Consolations of Writing

Rivkah Zim

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how Boethius' text established many of the themes and forms that spoke to and for later writers in prison. These include: consolation from the expressive power of ordered lyric meters set against the disorder of injustice and suffering in the real world; the importance of a well-stocked mind and imagination in maintaining resistance to oppression; and the expressive potential of paradox in reconciling apparent contraries and celebrating the creativity that may arise under situations of adversity. The text also promoted the subtle simplicity of dialectic and patterns of opposing binaries used to resolve impossible tensions in apparently progressive forms of logical argument and related forms of dialogic exchange between different points of view represented in argument, correspondence, and intertextual allusiveness. Finally, it demonstrated the urgent need often experienced in the condemned cell to set the record straight (to name names) or to construct a memorial image of the authorial self and, more objectively, to testify for humankind by offering insights derived from the prisoner's experience.

Keywords:   Anicius Boethius, prison writing, prisoners, lyric meters, oppression, paradox

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