Forms of restricted iconicity in modern avant-garde poetry

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This paper explores some of the forms minimal iconicity has taken in European poetry. Covering the period from early modernism to the experiments of the Paris Oulipo group and recent concrete poets, it offers close readings of work by Man Ray, Christian Morgenstern, Ernst Jandl, Jirí Kolár, Harry Mathews, François Le Lionnais and Otto Nebel. Illustrating the inventiveness of minimalist iconicity, it shows that a reduced iconic repertoire can actually multiply the interpretive options available. Types of complexity analysed include: the interplay between visual and acoustic iconicity and instances of unstable referentiality in examples of form miming meaning and form miming form and hybrid combinations thereof. As visual and acoustic iconicity is superseded by diagrammatic forms, a process of intellectualization is shown to set in.


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