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Nations of Nothing But PoetryModernism, Transnationalism, and Synthetic Vernacular Writing$
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Matthew Hart

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390339

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390339.001.0001

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Vernacular Discourse from Major to Minor

Vernacular Discourse from Major to Minor

(p.26) 1. Vernacular Discourse from Major to Minor
Nations of Nothing But Poetry

Matthew Hart

Oxford University Press

The chapter begins by questioning Philip Larkin's argument that W. H. Auden's early poems are “successful” because they assert a relationship of identity among dialect, audience, and social theme. Identifying this as a “major” discourse of the vernacular, the chapter uses the work of Jean Bodin and Giorgio Agamben to explore the importance of “major” vernacular discourse to the hegemonic function of nation‐states. The chapter then identifies “synthetic vernacular” poetry as verse that reworks “minor” vernacular discourses, thereby opening a gap within the homology among languages, peoples, and states. The chapter finally illustrates the limits of the synthetic vernacular concept via Ezra Pound's translation of Sophocles' Women of Trachis (1957).

Keywords:   W. H. Auden, Philip Larkin, Jean Bodin, Giorgio Agamben, “synthetic vernacular”, nation‐state, Ezra Pound

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