AShortHistoryofLiteraryCriticism.pdf - See discussions...

This preview shows page 1 out of 303 pages.

Unformatted text preview: See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: A Short History of Literary Criticism Book · January 2007 CITATIONS READS 0 81,645 2 authors, including: Petru Golban Namık Kemal Üniversitesi 35 PUBLICATIONS 7 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: English Literature View project The Bildungsroman in English Literature Series View project All content following this page was uploaded by Petru Golban on 12 March 2015. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. Üç Mart Press Estella Antoaneta Ciobanu A Short History of Literary Criticism Petru Golban Petru Golban Estella Antoaneta Ciobanu A Short History of Literary Criticism Üç Mart Press Kütahya – 2008 1 Printed in Turkey by Üç Mart Kırtasiye, Cumhuriyet Caddesi no. 6, 43100 Kütahya, Türkiye/Turkey. Copyright © 2008 by Petru Golban and Estella Antoaneta Ciobanu. All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purpose of review and criticism, no part of this book may be printed, reproduced or distributed by any electronic, mechanical, photocopying or other means without the written permission of the authors. Front cover: “Honesty” by Atanas Karaçoban ISBN 978-975-01663-3-4 1. Baskı Üç Mart Press, 2008 2 CONTENTS Introduction 4 1. The Foundations of Literary Criticism (Petru Golban) Preliminaries Ancient and Medieval Criticism Renaissance and Philip Sidney Restoration and John Dryden Neoclassicism and Alexander Pope The Rise of the English Novel and Henry Fielding The Romantic Criticism: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley The Victorian Criticism: Arnold, Ruskin, Pater Fragments and Analyses Conclusion Suggestions for Further Reading 12 15 25 32 41 58 70 95 114 156 160 2. Contemporary Trends in Literary Theory and Criticism (Estella Antoaneta Ciobanu) The Formal Approach to Literature The Approach through Reading The Approach through Socio-Cultural Context The Approach through Gender Literature and Psychoanalysis Post-Structuralism and Deconstruction Bibliography 164 182 201 215 251 269 295 3 INTRODUCTION It is a critical cliché to start a book on literary theory and criticism by bringing into discussion the name of Matthew Arnold and to claim that what has shown itself as a modality capable enough to reassure and strengthen the role of literature as an agent able to satisfy the intellectual needs of humans is the permanent re-evaluation of the past national and international literary heritage, and the study of the contemporary literary practice, in the context of what Matthew Arnold more than one hundred years ago described as a disinterested effort to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world. This endeavour, the Victorian scholar believes, is the ‘real estimate’, the real approach to literature, leading to its true understanding and to “a sense for the best, the really excellent, and of the strength and joy” to be drawn from literary text. These ideas seem nowadays superfluous and obsolete, being long ago rejected and replaced by the more scientific and methodological critical perspectives of formalism, structuralism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and other approaches developed by the twentieth century literary theory and criticism. In the most general terms, the previous and subsequent to Matthew Arnold periods have developed in the field of literary studies three major perspectives of approach to literature, three directions offering theoretical and practical possibilities to study and understand literature, and which are commonly referred to as critical, theoretical, and historical. The three approaches to literature – literary theory (the theory of literature), literary criticism, and literary history (the history of literature) – despite the huge debates over their functions and even necessity, represent three distinct scientific disciplines having their own definitions, characteristics, terminology, objects of study, and methodologies; they are interconnected, having obvious points of identification and separation. The standard dictionary definition regards history of literature as the diachronic approach to literature (including literary periods, movements, trends, doctrines, and writing practice). Literary criticism is the study/analysis/investigation/approach to particular literary texts on both thematic and structural levels. Literary theory develops and offers general methodologies and principles of research of the literary phenomena. If the first approach embarks on a diachronic perspective in literary studies and investigates the development of a national and world literature, the second is considered synchronic, and the third one is referred to as universal. In matters of subjectivism and objectivism, the history of literature and, especially, literary theory are designated as sciences, requiring normative and methodological objectivism, whereas literary criticism allows subjectivism to intermingle with objective reasoning, art with science, fusing in one discourse the personal responses to literature and the scientific 4 research, but what the critical discourse requires most is the accurate balance between the subjective and objective component. Literary theory, literary criticism, and literary history are interrelated and interdependent, and co-exist in the field of literary studies as bound by their major and common object of study, which is the literary work. Their interrelationship and interdependence form a permanent circular movement from the historically placed literary practice to literary criticism, from literary criticism to literary theory and from literary theory back to criticism. The text – either produced recently or representing an earlier period in literary history – is subject to literary criticism whose concluding reflections (the necessary outcome of literary criticism), if generally accepted and proved valid in connection to other thematically and structurally similar literary texts, emerge into the domain of literary theory, become its general principles of approach to literature, and are applicable to the study of literature in general. Literary criticism uses them in practical matters of research whenever the study of particular literary works is required, adding to the objective theory the critic’s individual response to the text, and the expected result is, on one hand, the development of new or alternative theoretical perspectives, and, on the other hand, the change, promotion, discouragement, revival or in some other ways the influence upon the literary practice of its own historical period, and the influence upon the literary attitude of the reading audience concerning the contemporary and past literary tradition. Literary criticism is thus not to be regarded as just the analysis or evaluation of particular literary works but also as the formulation of general principles of approach to such works. Co-existing in the field of literary studies with literary history and literary theory, literary criticism combines the theoretical/scientific and practical levels of literary analysis. Criticism as science follows and applies the general principles and methods of research from literary theory, but it also reveals an artistic aspect when the critic personalizes the discourse by his/her own opinions. The true literary critic uses literary theory to evaluate the literary text, and out of the synthesis of the borrowed theory with his/her personal opinions the critic develops other theoretical perspectives while keeping the proper balance between the objective and subjective component, between the use of theory and personal contribution. This relationship of the three approaches to literature suggests that literary history is more of a distinct discipline, standing apart, whereas literary theory and literary criticism are stronger connected, hence their consideration as one discipline under the generic name of ‘literary theory and criticism’. However, this relationship of the three approaches to literature also points to the fact that literary theory, literary criticism, and the history of literature are parts of a single cognitive system, a single discourse whose aim is to form or facilitate a particular type of communication which involves the producer of literature and its receiver. 5 Literature, a cultural phenomenon, one of the arts, the verbal art, is in the simplest way defined as imaginative writing and is likewise better understood as a system of elements framed within the boundaries of a communicative situation. The six elements in communication, in general, as identified by Roman Jakobson in Linguistics and Poetics (1963), are Context Message Contact Code Addresser Addressee In his book on literary criticism1, Raman Selden gives an interesting interpretation of Jakobson’s diagram, and changes it according to the purpose of literary criticism. Considering that ‘contact’ can be omitted in discussing literature, “since contact is usually through the printed word (except in drama)”, Selden rewrites the diagram as Context Writing Code Writer Reader and then places a number of critical theories according to their focus on a particular element in the diagram: Marxist Formalistic Structuralist Romantic Reader-oriented Indeed, the six elements in communication, as identified by Roman Jakobson, each having a corresponding function of language (referential, emotive, poetic, conative, phatic, and metalingual), receive in literary communication their equivalent parts (‘addresser’ or ‘sender’ is the ‘author’ or ‘writer’, ‘message’ is the ‘text’, ‘addressee’ or ‘receiver’ is the ‘reader’, and so on) which constitute the elements of the literary system. Guy Cook identifies and places these elements in a simple but comprehensive structure of the literary communicative situation2: Society Author Text Texts (Performer) Language Reader Every literary work represents a text, the product of an author, known to us or anonymous; the literary work addresses a reader; its material is language; it is produced in relation to a certain social background; and it always exists in relation to other texts that represent previous literary traditions or the contemporary to the given literary work period. The literary work in itself and the different relations between the text and other elements of the literary system gave birth to different theories, trends and schools in modern literary theory and criticism. As a result, the contemporary literary 1 Raman Selden. A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989, pp. 3-4. 2 Guy Cook. Discourse and Literature: The Interplay of Form and Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 128. 6 critic faces a multitude of schools and theories that correspond to the categories from the structure of the literary system. Instead of heavily borrowing ideas and providing quotations from the existing critical and theoretical studies, the critic may relate and apply them to his/her particular matters of concern. A more skilled critic considers the essence of different theories, modifying it according to the specificity of the research, and, by providing personal points of view and ideas, the critic progresses to certain interpretative modalities of his/her own. Concerning the most important critical theories, trends and schools, and according to Guy Cook’s literary communicative situation, in the field of literary theory and criticism the ‘author’ is the matter of concern of literary scholarship and biography; ‘text’ is studied by formalism, linguistics, linguistic criticism, and stylistics; ‘performer’ by acting theory; ‘reader’ by phenomenology, hermeneutics, reception theory, reader-oriented and readerresponse theory, as well as by psychoanalysis, feminism, and poststructuralism; ‘society’ by Marxist theories, cultural materialism, new historicism, and feminism; ‘texts’ by structuralism, poststructuralism, and deconstruction; and corresponding to ‘language’ are the theories of linguistics and stylistics. Literature on the whole and the particular elements of the literary system are also the matters of critical concern of rhetoric, semiotics, Bakhtinian criticism, archetypal and myth criticism, ethnic literary studies, racial studies, colonial, postcolonial and transnational studies, cultural studies, environmentalism and ecocriticism, and other contemporary trends and schools in humanities and in literary theory and criticism. These theories, trends and schools represent the twentieth century and the contemporary scientific, objective, and methodological literary theory and criticism. The process of development of world literary theory and criticism has its origins in ancient period, whereas concerning the rise and development of the theoretical and critical discourse on literature in Britain, one should consider Renaissance and its subsequent periods until the rise of the formal approach to literature at the beginning of the twentieth century. All the way through the periods, including twentieth century, the field of literary theory and criticism reveals a threefold perspective of development. First, one may argue that the development of literary criticism is dependent on literary genres and movements that are dominant in different periods. This is the case of literary criticism especially for the periods until twentieth century. Douwe Fokkema and Elrud Ibsch3 exemplify this aspect by the theory of Classicism that “should be understood as a generalization of the drama and epic of the time”. Similarly, the biographical method in criticism is viewed as “one of the effects of Romanticism, which drew 3 Douwe Fokkema and Elrud Ibsch. Theories of Literature in the Twentieth Century: Structuralism, Marxism, Aesthetics of Reception, Semiotics. New York: St Martin’s Press, 1995, p. 1-2. 7 largely on autobiographical material”. Another example would be that the psychological novel which “is responsible for the psychological approach in literary criticism”. Also, “the view has been defended that Russian Formalism is indebted to the ideals and slogans of Futurism.” Second, which is mainly the case of literary scholarship in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, trends and schools in literary criticism are also related to, or rather determined by, the new developments in science, philosophy, and society. Douwe Fokkema and Elrud Ibsch again: “There is an unmistakable influence of Freudian psychology in psychologically-oriented literary criticism” and “Marxist literary criticism has been intertwined with particular political and sociological views.” Also, the “search for a literary system or structure has certainly been inspired by Gestalt psychology. Russian Formalism is not only indebted to Futurism, but also to new developments in linguistics. Third, argue these critics, where some trends in literary criticism “are closer to new trends in creative literature, others are directly related to current developments in scholarship and society”, there are trends which “are somewhere in between” or rather emerging, as some twentieth century trends in literary criticism, from within the interpretative perspectives of the discipline of literary theory and criticism itself (for instance, Narratology developed from within Structuralism). In most general terms, with focus on art and in this respect on literature as one of the arts, it is art criticism that provides the analysis, study, and evaluation of individual works of art, as well as the formulation of general principles for the examination of such works. M. H. Abrams, in his celebrated The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (1953), has pointed out that all critical theories, as different as they could be, concentrate around four constituents, or major elements, that represent “the total situation of a work of art”. These are (1) the work, that is, the artist product, the thing made by the maker; (2) the artist, that is, the creator of the work; (3) the universe, that is, the nature which is imitated, and, if art is viewed as imitation, the materials of the real world or the world of ideas which become the substance of the work and out of which the work may be thought to take its subjects; and (4) the audience, that is, the addressee, to whom the work is addressed. According to Abrams, the concern with one of these four elements results in a special critical theory on art. Thus, the critic that focuses exclusively on the work of art and views it as a self-contained entity, approaching art basically in its own terms, follows the so-called objective theory. If art is discussed in relation to the artist, the work being understood as the expression of the maker’s own psychological and emotional states, the approach is called the expressive theory. To view art in terms of universe, which is in terms of what is imitated in the work of art, is to follow the mimetic theory. Finally, to regard art in relation to audience, studying the effects of the work of art on the receiver, is to follow the rhetorical or pragmatic theory. 8 Furthermore, Abrams believes, when viewed diachronically, the development of art and art criticism in the Western world reveals these theories as dominant in different historical periods. In ancient classical age, the most characteristic theory was the mimetic theory, with Aristotle as its promoter; however, with Horace’s idea of art as utile et dulce, as instruction and pleasure, the pragmatic theory emerged in ancient period as another dominant perspective to view art in critical terms. From Antiquity through the most of the eighteenth century these two theories remained dominant, in particular the pragmatic theory with its focus on the art’s usefulness and its effects on audience, although in Renaissance and especially in Neoclassical period the principle of imitation was also central to the evaluation of art. The linearity of the aesthetic attitude of the Western world governed by the view of art as a major source of instruction mingled with delight and pleasure – and thus subject to normative prescriptions – and by the confidence in the imitative nature of art was broken by the Romantic rejection of tradition and rules by the claim of the freedom of artistic expression, the revival of the innovative principle in art, and the emphasis on the artist’s own emotional and psychological states. With Romanticism, the artist became the centre of attention, his/her power of imagination, creative flight, sensibility, subjective and psychological experience expressed in the work of art, and the expressive theory emerged as the most characteristic of the Romantic attitudes towards art. Also dominant in the nineteenth century and later in the twentieth century was the objective theory on art, based on the idea of art for its own sake, art per se, the work being viewed as separate entity, complex enough in its range of symbols and imagery, and its patterns of structure and form, to be a matter of critical concern in itself. However, the present diversity of approaches to art keeps the contemporary critic aware of all the four major theories in his/her endeavour to evaluate art. A closer look at the rise of the critical tradition in Britain reveals a process of development during certain periods or stages generally corresponding to periods and movements in English art and literature. British literary criticism, in particular, reveals some concerns with literature in medieval period, but its actual beginnings are found in Renaissance, and its development and consolidation occurred during the subsequent periods of Restoration, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and Victorian Age, as to establish itself in the twentieth century as a scientific discipline. The major twentieth century and contemporary approaches to literature reified by certain trends include the formal approa...
View Full Document

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture