Publication details [#11440]

Wójcik-Leese, Elzbieta. 2010. Cognitive Poetic Readings in Elizabeth Bishop: Portrait of a Mind Thinking. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter . viii, 317 pp.


The present reading of Elizabeth Bishop's poems hopes to begin to explain how they beautifully combine toughness and elegance of mind. Therefore Ch.1 describes basic operations of the human mind as reflected in our conceptual and linguistic performance. Key concepts from cognitive grammar, theory of metaphor and metonymy, mental spaces and blending are introduced. (...) Their presentation follows the order suggested by Mark Johnson's five imaginative structures of understanding (1987): categorization, image schemata, metaphorical projections, metonymy, narrative structure. (...) Cognitive poetics is briefly compared with other linguistic approaches to literature in order to set the context for the analysis of Bishop's poetry. Other available readings (...) are sampled in Ch.2: these testimonies to the activity of cognizing minds anticipate the poet's major themes and motifs, thus revealing and confirming her licensing stories. Three such stories are discussed in greater detail: looking, which favours keen observation over transcending vision; exploration, which inspires the mind's creative faculties; seascape, which dominates the mover's/observer's visual field. Bishop's commitment to these narratives guides her portrayals of a mind thinking (...). Part one closes with the presentation of the conceptual resources stored under the cognitive label MENTAL LIFE/ POETIC CREATIVITY IS AN EXPLORATION OF A VISUAL FIELD. This metaphor will guide our cognizing efforts to chart Elizabeth Bishop's mindscape. Eight poems of her poems are analysed in detail in Part Two, containing the case studies. (Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese, from the Introduction)