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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown


A statement that initially seems to be illogical or self-contradictory yet eventually proves to embody a complex truth. In the New Criticism, the term is extended to embrace any complexity of language that sustains multiple meanings and deviates from the norms of ordinary language use. Hence Cleanth Brooks's claim that "the language of poetry is the language of paradox." (See also New Criticism.)

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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University of Toronto English Library
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Last modified: March 31, 1997