This overview of Michael Riffaterre's work in poetics aims to trace the development of the key concepts of Semiotics of Poetry, from his initial ‘stylistics’ phase, moving through the subsequent New Criticism and Piagetian structuralist phases. There is an account of the debate with Jakobson and Lévi-Strauss over a valid method for interpreting a Baudelaire sonnet, in the course of which several elements of the mature theory are developed. These are treated in detail in the following section on Semiotics of Poetry, and demonstrated in the analysis of a Gautier poem. The concept of the ‘matrix’ is seen to require modification, as it is sugggested that a single matrix cannot account for the complexity of the underlying propositional structure of the text. After touching on Riffaterre's work on narrative, the author's work on the perception-changing effect of the modernist text is briefly discussed.
© Walter de Gruyter