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The book opens with an emblematic figure of the greatest of all "singers": Homer, playing his lyre, at the center of the frieze of poets on the Albert Memorial in London. Chapters on the tragicomic rise and fall of "the bard," on the link between female song and suffering, and on the metaphor of poetry as birdsong, are followed by detailed readings of poems by Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Walt Whitman, and Thomas Hardy. The final chapter, on the songs of Bob Dylan, suggests that recording technology has given fresh impetus to the quarrel (which is also a love-affair) between poetic language and song.
The Figure of the Singer offers a profound and stimulating analysis of the idea of poetry as song and of the complex, troubled relations between voice and text
Daniel Karlin was born in London. He did his BA (1971-74) and PhD (1975-78) at Queens' College, Cambridge. He held a Junior Research Fellowship at Merton College, Oxford (1978-1980), before teaching at University College London (1980-2004), Boston University (2005-6), and the University of Sheffield (2006-2010). Karlin has taught at Bristol since 2010. He is currently Winterstoke Professor of English Literature.