Skip to main content
Select Source:

Empson, William

William Empson, 1906–84, English critic and poet. His Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), a study of the meanings of poetry, is a classic of modern literary criticism. It was followed by Some Versions of Pastoral (1935) and The Structure of Complex Words (1951). In Milton's God (1961) Empson engaged in a vehement attack on Puritanism. His works also includes two posthumously published essay collections, Using Biography and Essays on Renaissance Literature (1994). His poetry—Poems (1935) and The Gathering Storm (1940)—was noted for its wit and metaphysical conceits. A collected edition of his verse appeared in 1955, and his Complete Poems was published in 2001. Empson was knighted in 1979.

See biography by J. Haffenden (2 vol., 2005–6); J. Haffenden, ed., Selected Letters of William Empson (2006); studies by J. H. Wills (1969), R. Gill (1974), C. Norns (1978), and C. Norris and N. Mapp, ed. (1993).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Empson, William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Empson, William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/empson-william

"Empson, William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/empson-william

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Empson, William

Empson, William (1906–84) English poet and critic. He expanded the ideas of I. A. Richards in the Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930). Empson wrote detailed analyses of specific texts, a technique that became known as the ‘New Criticism’. His other critical works include The Structure of Complex Words (1951) and Milton's God (1961).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Empson, William." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Empson, William." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/empson-william

"Empson, William." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/empson-william

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.