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[Perspectives] Voices and the imaginative ear

“Jesters”, says Regan in King Lear, “do oft prove prophets”. Perhaps so. Try this one: “In everyday life, talking about imaginary people as though they were real is known as psychosis; in universities, it is known as literary criticism.” The jester here is the cultural critic Terry Eagleton, explaining the nature of the imagination in his book How to Read A Poem. It’s a typical Eagleton gag: arch, irreverent, crafted, and probably designed to ruffle the feathers of English professors (or to indulge them).

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