Empson, Sir William

Empson, Sir William

biographical name

(born Sept. 27, 1906, Hawdon, Yorkshire, Eng.—died April 15, 1984, London) British poet and critic. He studied at Cambridge and later taught in Japan and China. His precocious Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), which suggests that uncertainty or overlap of meanings in the use of a word can be an enrichment of poetry rather than a fault, had an immense influence on 20th-century criticism; its close examination of poetic texts helped lay the foundation for New Criticism. Later works include Some Versions of Pastoral (1935) and The Structure of Complex Words (1951).

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