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Modes of Viewing and Knowing in Nineteenth-Century England
Linda M. Shires
The Ohio State University Press, 2009
Perspectives: Modes of Viewing and Knowing in Nineteenth-Century England reopens the question of classical perspective and its vicissitudes in aesthetic practice with a focus on texts of the 1830s to the end of the 1870s. Linda M. Shires demonstrates why and how artists and writers across media experimented with techniques of dissolution, combination, and multiple viewpoints much earlier in the century than intellectual historians generally assume.
Arguing for a relationship between what she calls the disappearing “I” in poetry, a compromised omniscience, and the testing of a mastering eye in painting and photography, Shires argues that art forms themselves, rather than new technologies alone, reshaped the period by educating readers and viewers into new ways of knowing. In chapters on visual and verbal art and a waning theocentrism; D.G. Rossetti; Henry Peach Robinson and Lady Clementina Hawarden; and Robert Browning, Wilkie Collins, and George Eliot, Shires revitalizes the currently available scholarship on connections among nineteenth-century art forms.
This interdisciplinary study offers nuanced, close readings in order to rebut assertions of delayed artistic responses to the decreasing influence of traditional perspective. It shows how vision is bound up with all the senses of a viewer and it supports current concepts of modernism as transitional, rather than radical.

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The Poem, the Garden, and the World
Poetry and Performativity in Elizabethan England
Jim Ellis
Northwestern University Press, 2023

How an early modern understanding of place and movement are embedded in a performative theory of literature
How is a garden like a poem? Early modern writers frequently compared the two, and as Jim Ellis shows, the metaphor gained strength with the arrival of a spectacular new art form—the Renaissance pleasure garden—which immersed visitors in a political allegory to be read by their bodies’ movements. The Poem, the Garden, and the World traces the Renaissance-era relationship of place and movement from garden to poetry to a confluence of both. Starting with the Earl of Leicester’s pleasure garden for Queen Elizabeth’s 1575 progress visit, Ellis explores the political function of the entertainment landscape that plunged visitors into a fully realized golden world—a mythical new form to represent the nation. Next, he turns to one of that garden’s visitors: Philip Sidney, who would later contend that literature’s golden worlds work to move us as we move through them, reorienting readers toward a belief in English empire. This idea would later be illustrated by Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen; as with the pleasure garden, both characters and readers are refashioned as they traverse the poem’s dreamlike space. Exploring the artistic creations of three of the era’s major figures, Ellis argues for a performative understanding of literature, in which readers are transformed as they navigate poetic worlds.


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Poetic License
Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric
Marjorie Perloff
Northwestern University Press, 1990
In Poetic License, Marjorie Perloff insists that despite the recent interest in "opening up the canon," our understanding of poetry and poetics is all too often rutted in conventional notions of the lyric that shed little light on what poets and artists are actually doing today. On topics ranging from general problems of canonicity to the critical evaluation of such poets as Plath, Ginsberg, and others, Perloff introduces nonconventional ideas of the nature of poetic texts and reframes the discussion of postmodern "paratexts." Her discussion reformulates basic presuppositions of what poetry is and what it can do and leads us to see the great possibilities still open to lyric poetry at a time when, as Yeats predicted, "the center cannot hold."

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Poetics & Polemics
Jerome Rothenberg
University of Alabama Press, 2008

Poetics & Polemics, 1980-2005 brings together in one volume a wide-ranging selection of essays and commentaries by one of the most significant poets, critics, and translators working with American and international poetry today.

Jerome Rothenberg’s work spans a period of over forty years and nearly one hundred books, and though perhaps best known as a poet, his critical and theoretical contributions to the fields of innovative, experimental poetry have become equally important facets of his work. Rothenberg’s earliest critical writings concerned themselves with ethnopoetics and the poetics of performance. In the last twenty years his critical thinking has evolved to encompass more explicitly issues of modernism, postmodernism, and the avant-garde, as well as meditations on the nature of the book and writing. This volume extends and elaborates all of those interests, allowing for the first time a comprehensive glimpse of the full trajectory of his thinking.

In the first section, “Poetics and Polemics,” Rothenberg’s essays address a range of issues with which he’s become closely associated, among them the anthology as a critical and polemical tool; the intersection of poetry with art, performance, and politics, in both contemporary and traditional practice; the poetics of Jewish mysticism as a traditional form of conceptual and language poetry; and the universality of poetic discourse, particularly as seen in tribal poetry or in poetic traditions long separated from the Western literary mainstream.  In “A Gallery of Poets” is Rothenberg’s lively explorations of the work of other poets, as they relate to his own work, to avant-garde poetry in general, and to the poetic traditions that concern him the most. Finally, in “Dialogues and Interviews” are Rothenberg’s unbridled meditations and musings on what he calls “the life of poetry” outside the bounds of book and binding, class and category, a dynamic force at the center of all that we call human. 


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The Poetics of Repetition in English and Chinese Lyric Poetry
Cecile Chu-chin Sun
University of Chicago Press, 2010

For more than half a century, Chinese-Western comparative literature has been recognized as a formal academic discipline, but critics and scholars in the field have done little to develop a viable, common basis for comparison between these disparate literatures. In this pioneering book, Cecile Chu-chin Sun establishes repetition as the ideal perspective from which to compare the poetry and poetics from these two traditions.

Sun contends that repetition is at the heart of all that defines the lyric as a unique art form and, by closely examining its use in Chinese and Western poetry, she demonstrates howone can identify important points of convergence and divergence. Through a representative sampling of poems from both traditions, she illustrates how the irreducible generic nature of the lyric transcends linguistic and cultural barriers but also reveals the fundamental distinctions between the traditions. Most crucially, she dissects the two radically different conceptualizations of reality—mimesis and xing—that serve as underlying principles for the poetic practices of each tradition.

Skillfully integrating theory and practice, The Poetics of Repetition in English and Chinese Lyric Poetryprovides a much-needed model for future study of Chinese and English poetry as well as lucid, succinct interpretations of individual poems.


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The Poetics of Unremembered Acts
Reading, Lyric, Pedagogy
Brian McGrath
Northwestern University Press, 2012
Poems—specifically romantic poems, such as those by Thomas Gray, William Wordsworth, and John Keats—link what goes unremembered in our reading to ethics. In "Tintern Abbey," for example, Wordsworth finds in "little . . . unremembered . . . acts" the chance to hear the "still, sad music of humanity."In The Poetics of Unremembered Acts, Brian McGrath shows that poetry’s capacity to address its reader stages an ethical dilemma of continued importance. Situating romantic poems in relation to Enlightenment debate over how to teach reading, specifically debate about the role of poetry in the process of learning to read, The Poetics of Unremembered Acts develops an alternative understanding of poetry’s role in education. McGrath also explores the ways poetry makes ethics possible through its capacity to pass along what we do not remember and cannot know about our reading.

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A Poetry Criticism Reader
Jerry Harp
University of Iowa Press, 2006
A timely and informative collection, A Poetry Criticism Reader brings together eleven essays and reviews that constitute some of the best and most illuminating poetry criticism from the past decade.In his introduction to the book, editor-poet Jerry Harp gives an overview of poetry criticism and its pluralistic traditions after the high modernist years of T. S. Eliot. In the essays that follow, esteemed critics and poets explore varied aspects of poetics, make aesthetic statements, relate to postmodernism with its array of meanings, and examine particular poets and poems. Works by Donald Justice, James Tate, Paul Muldoon, Jorie Graham, Seamus Heaney, and Czeslaw Milosz are among those studied. None of the pieces was written in direct response to any of the others; nonetheless, they complement each other, forming a kind of dialogue. Because editors Jerry Harp and Jan Weissmiller selected writers who give us a broad range of perspectives on our postmodern moment as they reach into history for context, the collection offers students---the next generation of poets and critics---and their teachers exemplary models of fine critical writing and thought.

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The Poetry of Indifference
From the Romantics to the Rubaiyat
Erik Irving Gray
University of Massachusetts Press, 2005
Indifference is a common, even indispensable element of human experience. But it is rare in poetry, which is traditionally defined by its direct opposition to indifference—by its heightened emotion, consciousness, and effort. This definition applies especially to English poets of the nineteenth century, heirs to an age that predicated aesthetics on moral sentiment or feeling. Yet it was in this period, Erik Gray argues, that a concentrated strain
of poetic indifference began to emerge.

The Poetry of Indifference analyzes nineteenth-century works by Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Edward FitzGerald, among others—works that do not merely declare themselves to be indifferent but formally enact the indifference they describe. Each poem consciously disregards some aspect of poetry that is usually considered to be crucial or definitive, even at the risk of seeming "indifferent" in the sense of "mediocre." Such gestures discourage critical attention, since the poetry of indifference refuses to make claims for itself.

This is particularly true of FitzGerald's Rubáiyát, one of the most popular poems of the nineteenth century, but one that recent critics have almost entirely ignored. In concentrating on this underexplored mode of poetry, Gray not only traces a major shift in recent literary history, from a Romantic poetics of sympathy to a Modernist poetics of alienation, but also considers how this literature can help us understand the sometimes embarrassing but unavoidable presence of indifference in our lives.

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Poetry of Mourning
The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney
Jahan Ramazani
University of Chicago Press, 1994
Called the "mother of beauty" by Wallace Stevens, death has been perhaps the favorite muse of modern poets. From Langston Hughes's lynch poems to Sylvia Plath's father elegies, modern poetry has tried to find a language of mourning in an age of mass death, religious doubt, and forgotten ritual. For this reason, Jahan Ramazani argues, the elegy, one of the most ancient of poetic genres, has remained one of the most vital to modern poets.

Through subtle readings of elegies, self-elegies, war poems, and the blues, Ramazani greatly enriches our critical understanding of a wide range of poets, including Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, W. H. Auden, Sylvia Plath, and Seamus Heaney. He also interprets the signal contributions to the American family elegy of Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, Adrienne Rich, Michael Harper, and Amy Clampitt. Finally, he suggests analogies between the elegy and other kinds of contemporary mourning art—in particular, the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Grounded in genre theory and in the psychoanalysis of mourning, Ramazani's readings also draw on various historical, formal, and feminist critical approaches. This book will be of interest to anyone concerned with the psychology of mourning or the history of modern poetry.

"Consists of full, intelligent and lucid exposition and close reading. . . . Poetry of Mourning is itself a welcome contribution to modern poetry's search for a 'resonant yet credible vocabulary of grief in our time."—Times Literary Supplement

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Poetry of the Law
From Chaucer to the Present
David Kader
University of Iowa Press, 2010

Since the time of Blackstone's "Farewell," poetry has been seen as celestial, pastoral, solitary, and mellifluous; law as venerable, social, urban, and cacophonous. This perception has persisted even to the present, with the bourgeoning field of law and literature focusing almost exclusively on fiction and drama. Poetry of the Law, however, reveals the richness of poetry about the law.

Poetry of the Law is the first serious anthology of law-related poetry ever published in the United States. As the editors make clear, though, serious need not imply solemn. Instead, David Kader and Michael Stanford have assembled a surprisingly capacious collection of 100 poems from the 1300s to the present.

Set in courtrooms, lawyers’ offices, law-school classrooms, and judges’ chambers; peopled with attorneys, the imprisoned (both innocent and guilty), judges, jurors, witnesses, and law-enforcement officers; based on real events (think “Scottsboro”) or exploring the complexity of abstract legal ideas; the poems celebrate justice or decry the lack of it, ranging in tone from witty to wry, sad to celebratory, funny to infuriating. Poetry of the Law is destined to become an authoritative source for years to come.

Contributors Include:

W. H. Auden

Robert Burns

Lewis Carroll

John Ciardi

Daniel Defoe

Emily Dickinson

John Donne

Rita Dove

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Martín Espada

Thomas Hardy

Seamus Heaney

A. E. Housman

Langston Hughes

Ben Jonson

X. J. Kennedy

Yusef Komunyakaa

Ted Kooser

D. H. Lawrence

Edgar Lee Masters

W. S. Merwin

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sir Walter Raleigh

Muriel Rukeyser

Carl Sandburg

William Shakespeare

Jonathan Swift

Mona Van Duyn

Oscar Wilde

William Carlos Williams

from “The Hanging Judge” by Eavan Boland

Come to the country where justice is seen to be done,

Done daily. Come to the country where

Sentence is passed by word of mouth and raw

Boys split like infinitives. Look, here

We hanged our son, our only son

And hang him still and still we call it law.


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Poetry of the Possible
Spontaneity, Modernism, and the Multitude
Joel Nickels
University of Minnesota Press, 2012

The Poetry of the Possible challenges the conventional image of modernism as a socially phobic formation, arguing that modernism’s abstractions and difficulties are ways of imagining unrealized powers of collective self-organization. Establishing a conceptual continuum between modernism and contemporary theorists such as Paulo Virno, Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Alain Badiou, Joel Nickels rediscovers modernism’s attempts to document the creative potenza of the multitude.

By examining scenes of collective life in works by William Carlos Williams, Wyndham Lewis, Laura Riding, and Wallace Stevens, Nickels resurrects modernism’s obsession with constituent power: the raw, indeterminate capacity for reciprocal counsel that continually constitutes and reconstitutes established political regimes. In doing so, he reminds us that our own attempts to imagine leaderless networks of collective initiative are not so much breaks with modernist forms of knowledge as restagings of some of modernism’s most radical moments of political speculation.

Setting modernism’s individual and collective models of spontaneity in dialogue with theorists of political spontaneity such as Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, and Theodor Adorno, Nickels retells the story of modernism as the struggle to represent powers of collective self-organization that lie outside established regimes of political representation.


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Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing
The Illustrated Gift Book and Victorian Visual Culture, 1855–1875
Lorraine Janzen Kooistra
Ohio University Press, 2011

In Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing eminent Rossetti scholar Lorraine Janzen Kooistra demonstrates the cultural centrality of a neglected artifact: the Victorian illustrated gift book. Turning a critical lens on “drawing-room books” as both material objects and historical events, Kooistra reveals how the gift book’s visual/verbal form mediated “high” and popular art as well as book and periodical publication.

A composite text produced by many makers, the poetic gift book was designed for domestic space and a female audience; its mode of publication marks a significant moment in the history of authorship, reading, and publishing. With rigorous attention to the gift book’s aesthetic and ideological features, Kooistra analyzes the contributions of poets, artists, engravers, publishers, and readers and shows how its material form moved poetry into popular culture. Drawing on archival and periodical research, she offers new readings of Eliza Cook, Adelaide Procter, and Jean Ingelow and shows the transatlantic reach of their verses. Boldly resituating Tennyson’s works within the gift-book economy he dominated, Kooistra demonstrates how the conditions of corporate authorship shaped the production and receptionof the laureate’s verses at the peak of his popularity.

Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing changes the map of poetry’s place—in all its senses—in Victorian everyday life and consumer culture.


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Poets Thinking
Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats
Helen Vendler
Harvard University Press, 2006

Poetry has often been considered an irrational genre, more expressive than logical, more meditative than given to coherent argument. And yet, in each of the four very different poets she considers here, Helen Vendler reveals a style of thinking in operation; although they may prefer different means, she argues, all poets of any value are thinkers.

The four poets taken up in this volume—Alexander Pope, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and William Butler Yeats—come from three centuries and three nations, and their styles of thinking are characteristically idiosyncratic. Vendler shows us Pope performing as a satiric miniaturizer, remaking in verse the form of the essay, Whitman writing as a poet of repetitive insistence for whom thinking must be followed by rethinking, Dickinson experimenting with plot to characterize life’s unfolding, and Yeats thinking in images, using montage in lieu of argument.

With customary lucidity and spirit, Vendler traces through these poets’ lines to find evidence of thought in lyric, the silent stylistic measures representing changes of mind, the condensed power of poetic thinking. Her work argues against the reduction of poetry to its (frequently well-worn) themes and demonstrates, instead, that there is always in admirable poetry a strenuous process of thinking, evident in an evolving style—however ancient the theme—that is powerful and original.


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Post-Personal Romanticism
Democratic Terror, Prosthetic Poetics, and the Comedy of Modern Ethical Life
Bo Earle
The Ohio State University Press, 2017
Post-Personal Romanticism: Democratic Terror, Prosthetic Poetics, and the Comedy of Modern Ethical Life by Bo Earle offers a broad recasting of Romantic lyric’s formal innovations in terms of Hegel’s historical ethics. These innovations attempt to come to terms with the Enlightenment’s paradoxical legacy: industrial and consumerist modernity depends on the Enlightenment norm of rationally autonomous individuality even as it makes this norm ever more implausible. In turn, a key insight of the Romantics is that modernity depends most crucially upon the very elusiveness of this norm of autonomous individuality. The Romantics emphasize that modernity is constitutively a culture of fantasy, a culture self-conscious about the impossibility of its own organizing values and goals.
Tracing this insight to Hegel’s suggestion that modern subjectivity is in some sense post-individual or even posthumous, Earle argues that signature Romantic lyrics offer a way forward that avoids postmodernism’s wholesale rejection of autonomous selfhood. With chapters on Wordsworth, Blake, Byron, Shelley, and Keats, Earle traces how Romantic lyrics mine this interminability to recover figurative emblems or masks of selfhood from experiences of its inevitable normative failure. This model is of particularly urgent value today when the costs of modern narcissism, economic exploitation, and political imperialism have come to include the normalization of torture, signature drone strikes, and climate change.

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The Power of Genre
Adena Rosmarin
University of Minnesota Press, 1986

The Power of Genre was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The Power of Genre is a radical and systematic rethinking of the relationship between literary genre and critical explanation. Adene Rosmarin shows how traditional theories of genre—whether called "historical," "intrinsic," or "theoretical"—are necessarily undone by their attempts to define genre representationally. Rather, Rosmarin argues, the opening premise of critical argument is always critical purpose or, as E. H. Gombrich has said, function, and the genre or "form" follows the reform. The goal is a relational model that works.

Rosemarin analyzes existing theories of genre — those of Hirsch, Crane, Frye, Todorov, Jauss, and Rader are given particular attention—before proposing her own. These analyses uncover the illogic that plagues even sophisticated attempts to treat genre as a preexistent entity. Rosmarin shows how defining genre pragmatically – as explicitly chosen or devised to serve explicitly critical purposes – solves this problem: a pragmatic theory of genre builds analysis of its metaphors and motives into its program, thereby eliminating theory's traditional need to deny the invented and rhetorical nature of its schemes. A pragmatic theory, however, must be tested not only by its internal cohesion but also by its power to enable practice, and Rosmarin chooses the dramatic monologue, an infamously problematic genre, and its recent relative, the mask lyric, as testing grounds. Both genres—variously exemplified by poems of Browning, Thennyson, Eliot, and Pound—are ex post facto critical constructs that, when defined as such, make closely reasoned sense not only of particular poems but also of their perplexed interpretive histories. Moreover, both genres dwell on the historicity, textuality, and redemptive imperfection of the speaking self. This generic obsession ties the poems to their reception and, finally, to the openended, processes of hermeneutic question-and-answer stressed in Rosmarin's framing theory.

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Praising It New
The Best of the New Criticism
Garrick Davis
Ohio University Press, 2008
Marked by a rigorously close textual reading, detached from
biographical or other extratextual material, New Criticism was the
dominant literary theory of the mid-twentieth century. Since that
time, schools of literary criticism have arisen in support of or in opposition to
the approach advocated by the New Critics. Nonetheless, the theory remains
one of the most important sources for groundbreaking criticism and continues
to be a controversial approach to reading literature.
Praising It New is the first anthology of New Criticism to be printed in fifty
years. It includes important essays by such influential poets and critics as
T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Yvor Winters,
Cleanth Brooks, R. P. Blackmur, W. K. Wimsatt, and Robert Penn Warren.
Together, these authors ushered in the modernist age of poetry and criticism
and transformed the teaching of literature in the schools. As the American
poet and critic Randall Jarrell once noted: “I do not believe there has been another
age in which so much extraordinarily good criticism of poetry has
been written.”
This anthology now makes much of the best American poetry criticism available
again, and includes short biographies and selected bibliographies of its
chief figures. Praising It New is the perfect introduction for students to the
best American poetry criticism of the twentieth century.

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Predecessors, Et Cetera
Amy Clampitt
University of Michigan Press, 1991
Predecessors, Et Cetera collects Amy Clampitt’s reflections on her predecessors (the poets Donne, Wordsworth, Dickinson, Frost, Eliot, and Marianne Moore as well as the novelists Henry James and Edith Wharton) and her contemporaries (including James Merrill, Anthony Hecht, Howard Moss, Thomas McGrath, John Berryman, Stevie Smith, and Seamus Heaney) and reveals the intricate connections inherent in their art. Other essays include “Purloined Sincerity,” which examines the fate of the personal letter in these days of electronic communication, and “The Long, Long Wait,” which looks at the epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. Along the way she offers ruminations on the poet’s craft, the vagaries of reputation, and the perennial question of what makes a poet – or any writer – tick.

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The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Circle
Edited by Cecil Y. Lang
University of Chicago Press, 1975
This useful volume presents the major works of the five leading Pre-Raphaelite poets. Foremost in the collection, and included in their entirety are D. G. Rossetti's The House of Life, C. G. Rossetti's "Monna Innominata," William Morris's "Defence of Guenevere," Swinburne's Atalanta in Calydon, and Meredith's "Modern Love." Complementing these major poems is a fine, generous selection of the poets' shorter pieces that are typical of their work as a whole. For this second edition, Cecil Lang has substituted two early Swinburne poems, "The Leper" and "Anactoria," for Fitzgerald's The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. These poems, which the editor describes as "shocking," show a new aspect of Swinburne not discussed previously.  
Lang's Introduction describes briefly the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, discusses each of the Pre-Raphaelite poets, both individually and in relation to the others, and grapples with the questions of definition of Pre-Raphaelitism and the similarities between its painting and poetry. The book is appropriately illustrated with thirty-two works by D. G. Rossetti, John Ruskin, William H. Hunt, and other Pre-Raphaelite artists.

This is the only anthology available that provides a representative selection of the work of these important poets. It will be indispensable to students of Victorian poetry and appreciated by readers interested in the Pre-Raphaelites.


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