This fantasia on the speaking lyre is a superbly researched, incisive study that offers new ways of considering one of the oldest questions for Western poetry: the relation of music to words. Matthew Kilbane's media history / theory approach underscores his focus on the social semantics of sounding.
Erudite, eclectic, audacious, and splendidly written, The Lyre Book proceeds from the fact of lyric's essential intermediality—always already suspended between writing and sound—to stake a powerful claim for its interpretive centrality in charting the historical nuance of media change.
A lyre's paradox animates this book. From ancient apostrophes to the lyre as both instrument and auditor, The Lyre Book explores the far reaches of intermedial writing, of actual lyres and of the soundings of poetry in its constantly evolving manifestations. Kilbane has given readers a disturbance in the field of lyric theory.
In Matthew Kilbane's extraordinary book, 'intermediality' is a perennial and productive problem for lyric poetry (whose printed object continually evokes, but also withdraws from, sound and audition): the mark of a 'fallen' genre perpetually haunted by what it is not and what it may become. The startling polarities of Kilbane's theoretical insights and his intricate readings of what poems can tell us about the historical unfolding of the technical media may help us to understand why lyric poetry continues to resist definition as object and genre—and to accommodate new forms.