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Poetics of the Hive: Insect Metaphor in Literature
by Cristopher Hollingsworth
University of Iowa Press, 2001
Paper: 978-1-58729-380-1 | eISBN: 978-1-58729-403-7 | Cloth: 978-0-87745-786-2
Library of Congress Classification PN56.I63H65 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 809.9336257

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
"Cris Hollingsworth's waggle dance after scouting the rangiest field of literature--Virgil and Homer down to Milton and Swift, on to Plath and Byatt&#$151;leads you to where the nectar hides. . . . He wisely roams, extracting an anthology of poetry, prose, psychology, history&151;most of all, perception--that tops the bee's knees." --Paul West, author of The Secret Life of Words

"Hollingsworth's wide-ranging exploration of the image of the hive is impressive. Poetics of the Hive and its panoply of references cannot fail to enrich university classrooms, especially those devoted to both the visual arts and literature." --Dore Ashton, author of A Fable of Modern Art

"Cris Hollingsworth's Poetics of the Hive . . . is complex, even daring in argument; I'm even more impressed by [his] skill at an increasingly rare critical art, the educing of argument from careful, often brilliant analytical reading of literary texts." --Thomas R. Edwards, executive editor of Raritan: A Quarterly Review

A study to delight the passionate reader, Poetics of the Hive tells the story of the evolution of the insect metaphor from antiquity to the multicultural present. An experiment in the &147;evolutionary biology&148; of artistic form, Poetics of the Hive freshly examines classic works of literature, offering a view of poetic creation that complicates our ideas of the past and its formative role in modern consciousness and world literature.

In the first part of this lyrical synthesis of rhetoric, visual and postmodern theory, and cognitive science, Cristopher Hollingsworth reveals the structure behind his metaphor, redefining it as an aesthetically and philosophically potent tableau that he calls the Hive. He traces the Hive's evolution in epic poetry from Homer to Milton, which establishes antithetical but complementary images of angelic and demonic bees that Swift, Mandeville, and Keats use variously to debate classical versus emerging ideas of the individual's relationship to society. But the Hive becomes fully psychologized, Hollingsworth argues, only when its use by Conrad and Wells to explore Europe's colonial imagination of the Other is transformed by Kafka and Sartre into competing symbols of the modern self's existential condition.

Cristopher Hollingsworth is an assistant professor of English at St. John's University, Staten Island.

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