Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Dreaming by the Book

Dreaming by the Book

Elaine Scarry

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BUY THE BOOK

e-Book

A pathbreaking work about the way literature teaches us to use our imagination.

We often attribute to our imaginative life powers that go beyond ordinary perception or sensation. In Dreaming by the Book, the noted scholar Elaine Scarry explores the apparently miraculous but in fact understandable processes by which poets and writers confer those powers on us: how they teach us the work of imaginative creation.
Writers from Homer to Heaney, Scarry argues, instruct us in the art of mental composition even as their poems progress: just as painters understand paint, composers musical sounds, and sculptors stone or metal, verbal artists understand and deploy the only material in which their creations will get made - the backlit tissue of the human imagination. In her brilliant synthesis of cognitive psychology, literary criticism, and philosophy, she explores the five principal formal practices by which writers bring things to life for their readers; she calls them radiant ignition, rarity, dyadic addition and subtraction, stretching, and floral supposition. The transforming power of these mental practices can be seen in their appearance in great literature, of course, but also in applying them to - and watching how they revise - our own daydreams.
Dreaming by the Book is not only an utterly original work of literary analysis but a sequence of on-the-spot mental experiments.

Reviews

Praise for Dreaming by the Book

"[Scarry] is extremely ambitious, seeking nothing less than a theory of literary cognition. . . . Her interest, which is really in aesthetic success, makes her an original."— James Wood, The New Republic

"Her approach often recalls that of . . . Descartes and Hume as she attempts to solve the riddle of how the mind works. Scarry is an original, interdisciplinary thinker. She writes like someone enraptured by both the natural world . . . and by language."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Elaine Scarry

Elaine Scarry, a professor of English and American literature at Harvard University, is the author of The Body in Pain. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Elaine Scarry

Elaine Scarry

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook

LATEST ON TWITTER