The Cheat Sheet

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Chapter 2 Intro, Keesey

Literary Critcism--EL312

I stated in a previous blog that formalism is sort of like a cheat sheet. Using it you get to learn a great deal about a literary work. This is due to the fact that "formalists refuse to seperate form from content."

The structure and type of poem has everything to do with the meaning. Think of it as a math problem it is more important to find out how you get the answer rather that what the answer is. This may sound redundant, but it is neccessary. Keesey stated that the key concepts of formalist is difficult to go without in a poem. In my Intro to Poetry class, we read the works of Robert Herrick. This is a man who uses the Petrarchan beauty descriptions to describe a woman nevertheless, those descriptions are to graphic to innocent ears. He upholds the beauty (using the Italian sonnet), but uses his own style to write poetry.

2 Comments

Kevin,
I agree with you on the point that structure and type of the poem gives it meaning.
If there weren't soo many different types of styles for poems then it wouldn't make such a difference.
The line in your blog about a math problem is a great example of what the formalists look at.

I can't entirely agree with your notion of a "cheat sheet" for understanding the literature. There can be no such thing, as all works are different. The formalist, instead, focuses on the work itself, rather than the individual outside influences.

To be perfectly frank, I think they're all wrong - I think there needs to be overlap with each issue. Its the same thing with a different hat, basically.