The Introduction engages the literary history of address, from Shelley's Romantic account of the poem's pronouns ‘I, you, he, she’ as merely ‘modifications of the one mind’, to John Stuart Mill's account of the poem as secondarily ‘overheard’ by audiences who have no part in the poem's shaping, to T. S. Eliot's active listener in a poetic drama, and on to the effects of Culler's and Paul de Man's theories of address and apostrophe as ‘interiorization’. It offers readings of several contemporary poets who use address, in order to advance the claim that saying you is a public and political act, engaged in negotiations of identity, nationhood, and regional belonging or estrangement from communities. It also flags up how later poets use address to speak back to Modernist and Movement writers, and details what is at stake politically in poets’ engagement, both critically and complimentarily, with a culture's literary inheritance.
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