“The lapidary style” suggests a manner of writing that runs close to working a material—carving lettering into rock, cutting a gem into fine facets. Poised between the properties of the stone and of the jewel, this term holds the tensions of stone’s solidity and light’s refraction. This discussion will range over the curious nature of this style, its virtues of concision and incisiveness, and what it might say about the “materiality” of language. The “lapidary” shows us the profound implication of a gestural style with meaning.
On the Lapidary Style
denise riley is a critically acclaimed writer of philosophy and poetry. She is currently a professor of poetry and of the history of ideas at the University of East Anglia. Her visiting positions have included A. D. White Professor at Cornell University, Writer in Residence at the Tate Gallery in London, and Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck College in the University of London. Her most recent collection of poetry is Say Something Back (Picador, 2016).
Denise Riley; On the Lapidary Style. differences 1 May 2017; 28 (1): 17–36. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3821676
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