Acerbic Charm; Ludic Charm

  • Richard Beckman


Charm, Beckman speculates, depends on doubleness of some kind, the ambiguity that often gives poetry its force. Doubleness is alluring, hypnotic, fun, a release from the unimaginative “single vision” (in Blake’s phrase) of “Newton’s sleep,” or (in Proust) overcoming the deadening effect of habit. Doubleness in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129: “Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream. / All this the world well knows; yet none knows well / To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.” Charming Byron could be sharp-tongued: “But oh ye lords of ladies intellectual, / Inform us truly—have they not henpecked you all.” Verbal charm is acerbic when it counterposes what we would like to think and what we have reluctantly to admit.


Ruthless and ludic charm 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Beckman
    • 1
  1. 1.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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