‘Kubla Khan’ – Poetic Structure, Hypnotic Quality and Cognitive Style

A study in mental, vocal and critical performance

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This book endorses Coleridge's statement: "nothing can permanently please which does not contain in itself the reason why it is so". It conceives 'Kubla Khan' as of a hypnotic poem, in which the "obtrusive rhythms" produce a hypnotic, emotionally heightened response, giving false security to the "Platonic Censor", so that our imagination is left free to explore higher levels of uncertainty. Critics intolerant of uncertainty tend to account for the poem's effect by extraneous background information. The book consists of three parts employing different research methods. Part One is speculative, and discusses three aspects of a complex aesthetic event: the verbal structure of 'Kubla Khan', validity in interpretation, and the influence of the critic's decision style on his critical decisions. The other two parts are empirical. Part Two explores reader response to gestalt qualities of rhyme patterns and hypnotic poems in perspective of decision style and professional training. Part Three submits four recordings of the poem by leading British actors to instrumental investigation.

Subjects: Cognition and language; German literature & literary studies; English linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: Tel Aviv University

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