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Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads$
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George Meredith, Criscillia Benford, and Rebecca Mitchell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300173178

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300173178.001.0001

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On the Senses

On the Senses

(p.251) On the Senses
Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads

George Meredith

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the role that the senses and the sensory experience play in the composition of poetry. The excerpts it shows note, for instance, note how Victorian scientists and physiologists understood how the sensory experience directly influences poets—and the process of sensory experience proves to be fundamentally important in George Meredith's poetry. Through his poetry, Meredith invites readers to make use of their senses; to see, hear, touch, and smell. This focus on sensory detail even prompted efforts to theorize the relationship between intellectual understanding and the body. In fact, in the extracts compiled in the chapter, scientists insist that comprehending poetry is not just an intellectual activity but also an experiential one. Alexander Bain, for instance, maps and explains the cerebral activity that supports this statement, while Alexander Bryan Johnson shows a concern with the difficulty of relating a sensory experience through language.

Keywords:   composition of poetry, Victorian scientists, George Meredith, comprehending poetry, Alexander Bain, Alexander Bryan Johnson, sensory experience

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