Joseph A. Dane
Students of English literature now rarely receive instruction in versification (theory or practice) at either the undergraduate or the graduate level. The Long and the Short of It is a clear, straightforward account of versification that also functions as an argument for a renewed attention to the formal qualities of verse and for a renewed awareness of the forms and traditions that have shaped the way we think about English verse.
After an introduction and discussion of basic principles, Joseph A. Dane devotes a chapter to quantitative verse (Latin), syllabic or isosyllabic verse (French), and accentual verse (Old English/Germanic). In addition to basic versification systems, the book includes a chapter on musical forms, since verse was originally sung. Most serious studies of these systems in English have been designed for language students, and are not accessible to students of English literature or general readers. This book will enable the reader to scan verse in all three systems, and it will also provide a framework within which students can understand points of contention about particular verse forms. The guide includes a chapter addressed to teachers of English, an appendix with examples of verse types, and a glossary of commonly used terms.
“This is a remarkably clear, succinct, and at times witty handbook to literary versification. Its primary goal is to explain the basic forms of prosody in Latin, French, English, and the older Germanic languages. Students of literature, and of creative writing, need to understand that verbal expression is not the unmediated release of sensibility but the crafted and highly nuanced organization of that sensibility in forms.” — Seth Lerer, University of California, San Diego
“Dane challenges the ubiquitous notion of iambic pentameter as a purely English form, arguing instead for the simpler practice of counting syllables. A helpful glossary of terms is included. Studious undergraduates may find explanations and models of forms (which appear in the original language as well as in translation) helpful.” — Choice
Cover design selected as one of the winning designs for the 2011 AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Show