February 11, 2007

Oh the irony...

We've talked about irony in literature classes before, but I have never thought to take it up as a paper topic so I never looked closely at it. I have discovered from reading this essay that I really didn't understand what it was to begin with. I know when irony is staring me in the face, but to actually have to look for it I'm not sure that I could find it. This is not a problem for Cleanth Brooks in his essay (appropriately titled) "Irony as a Principle of Structure." He says that "I have argued that irony, taken as the acknowledgment of the pressures of context, is to be found in poetry of every period and even in simple lyrical poetry. Bu in the poetry of our own time, this pressure reveals itself strikingly" (89).

While I can see how Brooks used formalist criticism in the first part of his argument about irony, the second part (the part about the irony in today's poetry) seems to be a bit stretched. I'm thinking that it seems that way because I don't really understand it to begin with. I like that Brooks uses poetry from several different authors to show how irony is a key element used by authors in general. He also carefully avoids using anything except the text to make his arguments. After reading this essay I can see how close readings or formalist readings are done professionally. The article was to the point and wasn't cluttered by what this person thought about this or that person thought about that. It was just about a person defending his argument that irony is a part of poetic structure and can be proved using context.

There was one thing that struck me as odd. The math reference on page 86 of his essay. I know that Karissa found it funny, but I found it just odd. I think that there would be a much better and less confusing way of trying to explain one's point. Then again math never has been my strongest subject and is the subject I dread teaching the most, but still I'm not so sure that the math reference needed to be in the essay. Thoughts?

Brooks, ''Irony as a Principle of Structure'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at February 11, 2007 10:11 PM | TrackBack

I actually really enjoyed this article, maybe because I just enjoy irony in general. True, like you, I wouldn't have looked into it as an entire paper...it just doesn't seem to be something one can make a study on. However, Brooks argues that irony can be found in most works yet readers often miss the irony for a bigger or "deeper" meaning. Nothing is every what it seems in literature- it's either a symbol or, as we can see now, irony. Great, another piece of the puzzle.

Posted by: Nessa at February 12, 2007 9:39 AM
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