There are a number of ways to take this book. One could regard it as a work trying to be definitive or magisterial. After all, it is called “Theory of the Lyric,” not “A Theory of” or “Some Notes toward a Theory of.” And at almost four hundred pages, it is a significant tome. It argues with and attempts to displace various approaches to lyric poetry that it deems inadequate or misleading, and argues for its own approach (or “theory”). But this way of seeing the book may itself be misleading. The book may in fact be more modest and charming than its title suggests. It is perhaps best seen as a lover’s journal. Like Robert von Hallberg (2008) in Lyric Powers, Culler wants to explain—to himself as well as to others—the special powers and pleasures of lyric...

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