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January 29, 2007

Intro: What Is Literature? Who Said What, Where, And Why - How Things Said Three-Hundred Years Ago Are Being Seen Nowadays

Eagleton expresses at the bottom of page 5 notes that "...'poetry' in this sense depends on where you happen to be standing at the time. The fact that a piece of language was 'estranging' did not guarantee that it was always and everywhere so...if everyone used phrases like 'unravished bride of quietness' in ordinary pub conversation, this kind of language might cease to be poetic."

The last part of that quote was what really struck me, but I felt the preceding context was needed. What Eagleton is expressing is something that I have never been truly able to do - he boiled down the linguistic and, well, poetic limitations into a modern parallel. The "unravished bride of quietness" could be seen as the Oscar winner for best picture, such that it stands out above the others as a shining beacon of excellence that it cannot be recreated easily. If one were to say "the quiet, shy gal in the corner," it would be easily likened to a re-run of Everybody Loves Raymond, or more simply, a sit-com's basic set-up-and-punchline type of joke.

Should people, on a nearly constant basis, use "high language" or speak continually in metaphor and similes, they would no longer possess their power. There's a reason why people relate poems and sex - they don't happen every single day, at least for the vast majority, and eventually you hit your stride and it becomes commonplace, in which case some of the magic is then gone. Sure, its nice and wonderful, but it doesn't have that spark it once did.

Too much of a good thing, I'd say.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at January 29, 2007 10:31 PM

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