Seven Types of Ambiguity

Book by William Empson / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Seven Types of Ambiguity is a work of literary criticism by William Empson which was first published in 1930. It was one of the most influential critical works of the 20th century and was a key foundation work in the formation of the New Criticism school.[1] The book is organized around seven types of ambiguity that Empson finds in the poetry he discusses. The second edition (revised) was published by Chatto & Windus, London, 1947, and there was another revised edition in 1953. The first printing in America was by New Directions in 1947.

Seven Types of Ambiguity ushered in New Criticism in the United States. The book is a guide to a style of literary criticism practiced by Empson. An ambiguity is represented as a puzzle to Empson. We have ambiguity when "alternative views might be taken without sheer misreading." Empson reads poetry as an exploration of conflicts within the author.