Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reference Points

Only now, some 16 chapters in, am I noticing a trend in Hollander's writing. He's moved away from personal reflection, but the section entitled "The Work of Poets" is really just a showcase of his favourite obscure poets. But that's only a local trend. The larger one is this: Hollander commits the same crime of using vague referents that my MA supervisor constantly busted me for in my own work.

A prime example of Hollander's loose use of nigh blank referents is his "this" that he uses to finish the final paragraph of chapter 16. Using context clues, it seems that his "this" refers to a collection of poetry entitled The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Circle (2nd ed., 1975) - a collection of poetry last outrightly mentioned three pages earlier. A quick reference to the "Yale edition" can be found a page earlier, but I think the point still stands.

There could be an explanation for Hollander's slapdash use of "this," though. Some of these chapters are converted from lectures. In academic speech these gaps between referent and reference are almost to be expected (especially when looking at an academic text quite clearly not meant for any introduction to English lit class). Nonetheless, it's jarring to come across a word like "this" and not immediately know to what it refers.

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