January 29, 2007

Breaking Away from Tradition

"No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of ęsthetic, not merely historical, criticism." (Section 1 Paragraph 4).

Tradition is a value that seems to be very important in literature, but not nearly as important as the modifications (or complete turnarounds) that are made to break away from that tradition. Think about the table of British Writers: How completely different was the Romantic Period from the Restoration Period? How about the Middle Ages to the Renaissance? The reason why we think that literature is so fantastic is because of the comparison we make to the other periods of literature that had their own concepts, their own language to an extent. The reason why many enjoy tradition, is because they do not like their predecessors literature. Whether it is because of what it stood for, or whether the imagery was stronger, some enjoy the Romanticism Age because it was something completely different from Restoration Age that the literary readers were not as fond with. The reason why Eliot provides this as an Aesthetic Criticism is because if we looked at tradition as a historical critic, we would look at the Greeks, or someone before that. But as an Aesthetic critic, it is somewhat understood that every age had its own tradition, and those who didn't follow that tradition, subconsciously created their own tradition. Talk about irony.

Posted by The Gentle Giant at 8:36 PM | Comments (3)

Benito Cereno: A Melville Not-So-Short Story

"But by this time the cable of the San Dominick had been cut, and the fag-end, in lashing out, whipped away the canvas shroud about the beak, suddenly revealing, as the bleached hull swing round towards the open ocean, death for a figure-head, in a human skeleton; chalky comment on the chalked words below, "Follow Your Leader." (Keesey 519).

Looking at this short-story from a canonical/aesthetical point of view is very difficult, unless you cnosider it from a philosophical approach. It has always been said that "beauty is on the inside", but when one really thinks, in concern to this story, that there is no beauty in one individual. Perception of the human race is completely altered throughout the phases of the story, including the view of race, and the overall view of brutality in one individual. Benito Cereno is a story to me that the art of Melville's tale is completely separated from the morality of his characters or personas for that matter. I can see why looking at this tale from another perspective is important, because every single one of us would take a historical approach about slavery and Melville's time period. But there is more to this literature than just that. I'm not sure if a Canonical approach is that particular way, but as for aesthetics, it can be determined that the perception of beauty and art is very distant from the overall idea of morality, mainly through the eyes of the reader looking at Babo and Atufal, because they were originally viewed as simple, unworthy people, then viewed as equals for a brief part of the tale, then once again, viewed a simple unworthy people (who are barbarians).

The other note I would like to mention is the irony in "follow your leader." We never really know who is the leader. While some would argue that Babo is the leader at the end, he is executed by Captain Delano, which would make Delano a leader. But then if one counters, they could say "Delano was really only an observer the entire time until the end of the book." The question I propose to you is, "Does Melville provide the reader with a true leader? And if so, WHO?"

Posted by The Gentle Giant at 8:10 PM | Comments (3)

Keesey: An Introduction to Literary Criticism

"So, as readers see each theory applied to works they know well, they will be able to understand more fully what that approach can accomplish. Equally, to the point, as they see the different approaches applied to the same works, they will be able to estimate more accurately their relative strengths and possible uses" (Keesey 6).

I chose this passage from Keesey, because this is the overall point of this course. This is something that should be placed in the course syllabus, mainly because this is a key component to what young literary critics-in-training should be trying to achieve to make themselves become better literary readers; not to mention, the overall idea some of us being future educators helps us have an advantage to view a piece of literature, in order to have our students grasp important points to the specific writing. This introduction provided a chart, or more of a spectrum, that focuses on different types of criticisms, including historical vs. reader response, mimetic vs. intertextual criticism, but I feel that formalism should not be in the middle of this spectrum. It should be placed as its own spectrum, one on end, across from a platonic criticism. Formalism is the study of the words in an artistic poetic fashion, and platonic (which I prefer) finds the morality and ethical issues behind the piece of literature. Overall, Keesey has been very helpful in providing a balance and a pathway to the different types of literary criticisms.

Posted by The Gentle Giant at 7:57 PM | Comments (5)

What is Literature? An Eagleton Reading

"To think of literature as the Formalists do is really to think of all literature as poetry. Significantly, when the Formalists came to consider prose writing, they often simply extended to it the kinds of techniques they had used with poetry" (Eagleton 6).

Viewing Literature as poetry, and looking at a piece of writing based for its value on imagery, style, and prose is a perspective that I never really considered before. Usually, as the so-called critics that we thought we were, I thought all of the literature that we read is based off of the "meat and potatoes" behind the imagery, plot, and syllabic structure, but we forget that the words and imagery can actually be a key factor to what makes a piece of literature important to the reader. Style is a tactic that one usually overlooks, when really, it is the hook that engages a reader into looking further into a piece of literature. Personally, a Formalist perspective is very important, and after four years of college, I never really saw it until this semester.

Posted by The Gentle Giant at 7:42 PM | Comments (0)

Platonic Criticism from Murfin and Ray

"Platonic criticism: A type of criticism that judges a work by its extrinsic purpose rather than by any intrinsic (artistic) value, as in Aristotelian criticism. Platonic critics determine the value of a work by assessing whether it has a useful nonartistic purpose or application, such as promoting morality" (Murfin and Ray 345).

The reason why I chose to shed my light on this specific type of criticism (and those of you in that took EL310 with me, forgive me), is because one of Geoffrey Chaucer's perspectives came from the perspectives of his audience and their own judgements of a character's persona based off of morality. The artistic nature is basically irrelevant because Chaucer took many different viewpoints of his variety of audience members, and played the role of a neutral and objective reporter in The Canterbury Tales, causing the reader to pass judgments on the flawed nature of the characters. Overall, the value of the work is more important to me than the overall artistic value, but I will learn throught the course of this class that there are other important ways to find a critique to a specific piece of literature.

Posted by The Gentle Giant at 7:20 PM | Comments (0)