Norman Hollands Poems in Persons broke new ground when it first appeared in 1973. The book introduced readers to the only theory of literature that can show how individual personalities write and read literary works. Each writer is a unique being. So is each reader. So is every poem or story. That was Hollands commitment. He lived up to this principle by exploring the responses of two actual readers and studying the Imagist poet H.D. who was analyzed by Freud. He went further, extending his insights to the practical matters of teaching, criticism, and audience behavior that affect every one of us.
The book gave the study of literature a powerful psychoanalytic model for the literary process. Its study of two readers put American-style reader-response criticism on the world map. And it showed how this new understanding applied to all kinds of human psychological processes.
Now, Hollands second, revised edition adds potent new developments to the first:
This is a book that belongs in the library and in the mind of everyone who cherishes writing, reading, or just talking about books and what they mean to human beings.
Hollands work is intellectually penetrating, richly suggestive, and even morally courageous.... Poems in Persons is a landmark in examining the act of literary interpretation. - College English
The book illustrates lucidly Holland's way of seeking access to the subconscious processes involved in the acts of writing and reading .... He has been a worthy pioneer in using Freud to codify the emotions aroused when we read literature. - New York Times
In Poems and Persons, Holland's focus is on describing the ways in which the reader is a remaker of the poem, just as the writer is its maker. Holland is a writer of clarity and wit; his book is meant for the general reader, yet provokes and pleases the specialist. - Ohio Review
Norman Holland's position as stated in The Dynamics of Literary Response and Poems in Persons is basic to any understanding of what reader response criticism is and has been about. - Jane Tompkins, Duke University
Norman N. Holland, Marston-Milbauer Professor of English at the University of Florida, Gainesville, founded the Institute for Psychological Study of the Arts at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Center for Psychological Study of the Arts at the University of Florida. He is the author of twelve books of literary criticism and one postmodern detective story. His studies of reader-response include: The Dynamics of Literary Response, 5 Readers Reading, Laughing: A Psychology of Humor, The Brain of Robert Frost, and The Critical I. He conducts the online discussion group PSYART and edits PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts.
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