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Literary Criticism Semiotics & Theory

Touch Monkeys

Nonsense Strategies for Reading Twentieth-Century Poetry

by (author) Marnie Parsons

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Mar 1994
Semiotics & Theory
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 1994
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All too often Nonsense is relegated to the nursery. Marnie Parsons argues that, rather than being mere child's play, nonsense is a major force in poetic language. In Touch Monkeys she presents us with an original reading of a much-maligned linguistic pursuit.

Parsons distinguishes between nonsense language and Nonsense, the genre. Her major chapters work towards a vision of nonsense language as palimpsestic - the overlaying of several ways of making meaning onto a verbal sense system, and the consequent disruption of that system. This reading of nonsense is itself an intersection, bringing together historical and contemporary criticism of literary Nonsense and a wide range of poetic and literary theories. Using Carroll and Lear as examples of Nonsense, Parsons provides a survey of existing Nonsense criticism in English, and then extends and elaborates nonsense in theoretical directions set by Gilles Deleuze and Julia Kristeva among others, and by the poetics of such writers as Charles Olson, Charles Bernstein, Ron Silliman, Steve McCaffery, Louis Zukofsky and Daphne Marlatt.

Following each chapter is a close reading of work by writers as varied as Rudyard Kipling, Colleen Thibaudeau, Adrienne Rich, and Lyn Hejinian. These readings provide practical applications of nonsense theory and establish the interdependence between theory and practice. Nonsense both inhabits and challenges traditional forms simultaneously; in Touch Monkeys Parsons enters into the spirit of the genre.

About the author

Born and raised in Leamington, Ontario, Marnie Parsons now lives in Tors Cove, NL with two bad cats and a view of the ocean. She is a publisher, printer, and editor. Her first children's book, PB's Comet was inspired by the small community where she lives and works.

Marnie Parsons' profile page

Other titles by Marnie Parsons