Complex Crosses


Available from Contraband Books

Complex Crosses is an experimental critical book which spans the history of poetry by alighting on small fragments.

It has a modular form, consisting of commentaries which pursue a dialectical criticism through the idea of the ‘complex cross’ which is both a figure of dialectic and the action of close reading in which the present’s span of attention loops back and through a text. Hooke’s flea (on the book’s cover) is seen through a microscope but, in turn, also feeds perhaps on the critic whose close-reading scope is deployed – it’s a complex cross in action. Complex Crosses begins twice, the first time with Homer (the point where an oar becomes a chaff-shovel) and the second time with Horace (where the name of a friend stops the ritual cycle of time). Its returning emphases are on naming, linguistic politics, and how the genre of history interpenetrates that of poetry. It forms a discontinuous line of micro-essays and micro- close readings of these multiple chiasmatic forms. The essays cover 60 texts including full commentaries of poems by Horace, Shakespeare and Melville.

Some of these micro-essays (including early drafts and extra chapters) are posted at Bite the Weeds.

Read the Complex Crosses contents page for a chronological sense of the book.


“Hardy’s scholarship is always evident but exercised with good humour and wit.” – Alan Halsey, Stride Magazine

“For the poet or scholar inclined to the rigorous, speculative, and vertiginous refrains of a new philology, please find your way to the infidel anatomies of Edmund Hardy’s Complex Crosses and, for a meditation on the crossroads of theory and poetics, consider Werner Hamacher’s Minima Philologica. Both books re-activate the ancient genre of elegy as polemic (and longing). Philology as mise-en-abyme, as materialist poetics.” – Daniel Tiffany

“I came away with an expanded awareness of the historical scope of the lyric” – David Caddy, Tears in the Fence

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