Cover: Hearing Things: The Work of Sound in Literature, from Harvard University PressCover: Hearing Things in HARDCOVER

Hearing Things

The Work of Sound in Literature

[Full] of immense grace and critical intelligence… A book about beauty and a perhaps unfashionable defense of the beautiful as a reason for poems to exist.—Seamus Perry, The Times Literary Supplement

Angela Leighton’s Hearing Things is as good as her previous book on poetic form—which is to say it’s terrific—and illuminates a great deal about the sound effects of poetry that cannot be disentangled from its page-sense.—Andrew Motion, The Guardian

To my professor friends in the humanities (the ones who haven’t given up): Angela Leighton’s book will help you remember why you took this path in the first place. While its primary audience is lit-folk, it will speak to scholars in many disciplines if only they’re willing to lend an ear… I dare you to read ten pages without stopping to copy several arresting bits.—John Wilson, First Things

This is one of those rare books where we find ourselves changing our approach to how we read even as we’re reading. On every page, Leighton works skillfully to demystify how sound works in literature and how we can pay better attention to it.—Jenny Bhatt, PopMatters

Understanding the role of sound helps you get at how a poem or piece of prose manages your aesthetic response… [Hearing Things] is a wise, suggestive reminder to readers to keep an eye on the ear.—Sam Leith, Prospect

Leighton shows us that what separates poetry from other things that humans make are those very moments when poems enact or allude to listening—hums, murmurs, echoes, incomprehensible language. Hearing Things is persuasive, ambitious, synthetic, clear, and powerful.—Stephanie Burt, author of The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them

Many critics claim to engage in close reading, but nobody is as skilled as Angela Leighton at close listening. Heard through her ears, words sing and rhythms thrum on the page, making even familiar poems sound compellingly fresh and new. This approach makes Hearing Things something more than a traditional work of literary criticism. What Leighton offers us instead, as she ranges across poetry from the nineteenth century to the present day, is criticism as a form of play: inventive, witty, and joyfully experimental.—Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, author of The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland

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