This chapter opens the discussion with some illustrative examples of metonyms from poetic texts, along with some conventional definitions of metonymy, which serve as an operational framework for the subsequent theorizing and as a starting point to problematize the inadequacies of existing theory. It situates the study on the interface of Classics and Modern Literatures, drawing on classical rhetoric (‘stylistics’ as traditionally studied in Classics), linguistics (as informing modern, post-Saussurean poetics), and fundamental theorems of Russian formalism (notably ‘defamiliarization’). After formulating the book’s key questions and mapping the course of its argument, it addresses important methodological considerations, including: the complexities arising from studying poetic usage in a ‘dead’ language; the rationale behind the texts selected for analysis; and the author’s notions of ‘the reader’ and ‘readings’ on which the subsequent theorizing is based.
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