Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
A History of Ambiguity$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Anthony Ossa-Richardson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167954

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167954.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The Combination Room

The Combination Room

Chapter:
(p.364) Chapter Ten. The Combination Room
Source:
A History of Ambiguity
Author(s):

Anthony Ossa-Richardson

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691167954.003.0010

This concluding chapter reviews William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity, a book about ambiguity in lyric poetry, but one that rejects the dominant concept in previous analyses of that subject, namely, artificial ambiguity. Its innovation was to adopt instead a form of inspired ambiguity, one made possible by the earlier invention of dramatic irony, and also, on another front, by the Freudian unconscious. Indeed, Empson was working with a structural analogue of inspired ambiguity, in which the two voices in a verse are not God and man but conscious and unconscious, or else conflicting desires or ‘forces’ in the author's mind. The chapter then considers in fuller detail three structuring concepts in Seven Types, embodied in three key words, each related to an idea that extends back through and beyond Freud. The first, ambivalence, is psychological; the second, primitive, is anthropological; and the third, hypocrisy, is ethical. All three are closely related, and by triangulating them, one may see with greater clarity what Empson brought to the traditions he inherited.

Keywords:   William Empson, ambiguity, lyric poetry, artificial ambiguity, inspired ambiguity, Freud, ambivalence, primitive, hypocrisy

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.