Authored by: Kevin Hart

The Routledge Companion to Literature and Religion

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415834056
eBook ISBN: 9780203498910
Adobe ISBN: 9781135051105


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When we read a poem it assumes thematic importance for us by way of one or more horizons in which it appears. I canfor ins approach a poem in terms of an inner horizon—anticipations of what it will say and how it will say it—and it may well be that my reading of it will populate or denude this horizon in unexpected ways. My anticipations can always be exceeded or disappointed. Almost certainly I shall read the poem by way of at least one outer horizon: its immediate historical context, for instance. 1 And I can always extend that horizon so that it takes account of a longer period of history or a wider cultural context. Equally, though, a poem will be embedded in other horizons, such as different reading practices that I could attempt. Readers sometimes treat outer horizons as primary themes themselves—historicists, for example, often do that—then the phenomena that appear there tend to go out of focus.

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