Reception to follow.
Poetry, Hazard Adams argues, exists to offend—not through its subject matter, but through the challenges it presents to the prevailing view of what language is for. Poetry's main cultural value is its offensiveness; it should be defended as offensive. In his recent book, The Offense of Poetry, Adams specifies four poetic offenses—gesture, drama, fiction, and trope—and devotes a chapter to each, ranging across the landscape of traditional literary criticism and exploring the various attitudes toward poetry, including both attacks and defenses, offered by writers from Plato and Aristotle to Sidney, Vico, Blake, Yeats, and Seamus Heaney, among others.
Hazard Adams is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature. He is one of the world’s most preeminent scholars on William Blake, William Butler Yeats, Joyce Cary, and James Joyce. His most recent scholarly books include The Book of Yeats’ Vision: Romance Modernism and Antithetical Tradition (1995), Critical Essays on William Blake (1991), The Book of Yeats’ Poems (1990), and Antithetical Essays in Literary Criticism and Liberal Education (1990). Adams is also known for Critical Theory Since Plato (third edition 2004), one of the most influential and widely used anthologies of literary theory. In addition to his academic writing, Adams is the author of four novels and a collection of poetry, The Farm at Richwood and Other Poems (1999).