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In the foreword to Wisdom & Metaphor, Jan Zwicky observes that “those who think metaphorically are enabled to think truly, because the shape of their thinking echoes the shape of the world.” Wisdom & Metaphor explores the ways we come to understand the world through analogical structures, and the relation of this form of knowing to conventional epistemology and ontology. Zwicky uses the nature of the book itself, with its facing pages, to create resonant structures of aphorism and quotation which allow the reader to experience the kind of thinking she describes. The author’s wide-ranging influences, coupled with an understated, largely spatial, style of discourse, make this a remarkably original approach to long-standing questions about meaning and language. It offers a unique and compelling argument for the fundamental importance of metaphor to philosophy.

Reviews for Previous Edition

Books in Canada

Canadian Literature


Jan Zwicky is a unique poet and philosopher, and Wisdom & Metaphor is an important book. This work has much to offer not just poets and philosophers, but anyone who has struggled with what it means to understand something in the terms of something else.

Adam Dickinson, Canadian Literature

It’s hard to believe, when printed books have been around for almost six hundred years in the West, that someone could look at their physical structure and construe its logic differently. But that is what Zwicky has done.… In its simplicity, daring, and elegance, Zwicky’s innovation is a landmark achievement.

Dennis Lee, “The Music of Thinking,” in Lyric Ecology: An Appreciation of the Work of Jan Zwicky

[Zwicky’s] ambition is breathtaking; the aspiration is Rilkean: You must change your life.

Ronald de Sousa, Common Knowledge

work of luminous intellectual and emotional intelligence

Patrick Curry, Green Letters

Jan Zwicky

Jan Zwicky is a philosopher and poet. She has won the Governor General’s Award for poetry, the Dorothy Livesay Award, and has been shortlisted for the Griffin Prize for Poetry. In 2004, her philosophical monograph Wisdom & Metaphor was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for nonfiction.