M. H. Abrams

M. H. Abrams books and biography

M. H. Abrams

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Meyer (Mike) Howard Abrams (born July 23, 1912) is an American literary critic, known for works on Romanticism, in particular his book The Mirror and the Lamp. Under Abrams' editorship, the Norton Anthology of English Literature became the standard text for undergraduate survey courses across the U.S. and a major trendsetter in literary canon formation.



He was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. He studied to doctoral level at Harvard University, and became a professor at Cornell University.

Classification in The Mirror and the Lamp

Literary theory can be divided into four main groups:

  • Mimetic Theories (interested in the relationship between the Text and the Universe)
  • Pragmatic Theories (interested in the relationship between the Text and the Audience)
  • Expressive Theories (interested in the relationship between the Text and the Author)
  • Objective Theories (close reading of the Text)


  • The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (1953) ISBN 0-19-501471-5
  • The Poetry of Pope: A Selection (1954) ISBN 0-88295-067-3
  • Literature and Belief: English Institute Essays, 1957. (1957) editor ISBN 0-231-02278-6
  • A Glossary of Literary Terms (1958) ISBN 0-15-505452-X
  • English Romantic Poets: Modern Essays In Criticism (1960) ISBN 0-19-501946-6
  • Norton Anthology of English Literature (1962) founding editor, many later editions (current edition is 7th, published in 2000 with others, however in the new edition (8th) Stephen Greenblatt has taken over the General Editor's position ISBN 0-393-15112-3)
  • The Milk of Paradise: The Effect of Opium Visions on the Works of DeQuincey, Crabbe, Francis Thompson, and Coleridge (1970) ISBN 0-374-90028-0
  • Natural Supernaturalism Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (1971) ISBN 0-393-04305-3
  • The Correspondent Breeze: Essays on English Romanticism (1984) ISBN 0-393-30340-3
  • Doing Things with Texts: Essays in Criticism and Critical Theory (1989) ISBN 0-393-02713-9


  • Lawrence Lipking, editor (1981) High Romantic Argument: Essays For M.H. Abrams ISBN 0-8014-1307-9

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