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March 10, 2007

Beware the Bathos

Murfin and Ray, Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"Bathos: Decent into mundane or sentimental language by a writer who is striving for the noble and elevated. Bathos is a stylistic anticlimax, the unintended (and therefore ridiculous) result of an unsuccessful attempt to achieve pathos or the sublime."

When I read the word "bathetic" in Culter's essay I was sure it was a misprint...it sounded so odd. But, now I am glad that I looked it up because I want to be able to avoid my work being bathetic. Actually, a friend and I wrote a poem in middle school that I am pretty sure could be considered bathetic. We had to write a narrative poem in 8th grade about an event from American history so we wrote a poem about the Boston Massacre, and I'm pretty sure it could be accused of "descent into mundane or sentimental language." It also had a cutesy rhyme scheme it was very inappropriate for the subject matter. But, we didn't really know any better at the time and we were still under the misconception that poetry had to rhyme. Thinking back on it now makes me realize how terrible of a poem it is, yet I also remember it being selected to be published in an anthology of student work for our school district. So now I have to say the joke is on them for they were the ones silly enough to publish such a poem!

Posted by LorinSchumacher at March 10, 2007 10:44 PM


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