A Sun within a Sun

The Power and Elegance of Poetry

The project of this engaging book is the rehabilitation of the terms 'beauty' and 'meaning' in a poststructuralist age. Lyu is well acquainted with theory, and she makes abundant use of Gilles Deleuze, Walter Benjamin, and Maurice Blanchot. Her real inspiration, however, comes from French poets like Baudelaire and Mallarme. She makes fascinating use of Baudelaire's writings on hashish and Mallarme's bizarre attempt to edit a fashion magazine . . . this book will prove to be a stimulating resource for those interested in French literature or aesthetics.

A Sun within a Sun is a sustained poetic reflection on the enterprise of poetry, on what poetry is and might be, not only for poet and theorist but also for reader, critic, teacher, and student. It sees poetry as life at its most genuine.
Using Baudelaire and Mallarmé as principal examples, but drawing on a wide range of poets and thinkers, from Greek mythology to Poe, Rimbaud, Rilke, and Blake; from Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, and Italo Calvino to William James and Henry Miller, Claire Chi-ah Lyu challenges contemporary poetic theory, using precise and acute deconstruction of poetic imagery to reconstruct language so that it celebrates both meaning and beauty.
<I>A Sun within a Sun</I> explores the notions of lightness and weight, discipline and indulgence, freedom and loss of will that are inherent in the poetic enterprise. It poses that lightness, discipline, freedom, and risk are essential for an approach to the enigma of beauty through an elegant shaping of form that holds true not only in poetry but also in pure science and even fashion. Poetry is a language within a language, a heightened and intense awareness of what words mean and what they can do, at its best creating an intensity of a sun within a sun. The poet and reader of poetry must take the risk Icarus took of approaching the sun, for without the risk there is no fulfillment.
A Sun within a Sun seeks a shaping of form and content that discovers poetry as power, as a practice of life that honors and makes possible both thought and feeling.

240 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

March, 2007

isbn : 9780822959717

about the author

Claire Chi-ah Lyu

Claire Chi-ah Lyu is associate professor of French language and literature at the University of Virginia.

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Claire Chi-ah Lyu