"In any culture there is a general symbolic economy made up of the myriad signs that excite human desire, fear, and aggression. Through their ability to construct resonant stories, their command of effective imagery, and all above their sensitivity to the greatest collective creation of culture-- language-- literary artists are skilled at manipulating this economy" (Greenblatt 440).
I know that this is a lengthy quote, but I really felt that this quote is the overall point behind Greenblatt's entire argument. Writers and authors are literary artists, and they do have a skill that requires skewing perspective on a society through literary conventions. Although there are differences, culture is generally represented in one general and broad manner. Literature, or at least a majority of it, tries to find something that was against a culture, and through imagery and dialogue, the author completes the task of portraying a different spin on the representative culture portrayed in that story. It does not necessarily have to be the culture or history, as much as the portrayal of a society comparable to the one in the history. The best part of this type of criticism so far that I have seen, is that symbolism becomes an important element. We always talk about symbolism in literature, but it appears that the new historical criticism emphasizes symbolism more than any other one that I've seen.Posted by The Gentle Giant at April 18, 2007 3:23 PM