Peat and Repeat

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"Repetition becomes a prominent figure in Shakespeare's late style generally, and The Tempest in particular derives much of its poetic power from phonetic, lexical, and syntactical reiteration. (McDonald 101).

It is true that in Shakespearean works repetition is used to get a point across.  Not only understanding what is being said, but remembering the importance of what is being said.  For example, in Othello, the word handkerchief is important throughout the entire story. The first time it is mentioned, it is mentioned three times.  This is a clue to the reader that the handkerchief was going to prove to be something vital, as we all know it was.  

Magically Delicious

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The Tempest should be relatively free of feminist criticism-seeing that there are hardly no women in the play and the one's that do exist are subservient cookie cutter images of the way women were "supposed" to be. 

Magic?  Was magic even allowed to be practiced then? 

"Could Shakespeare Have Thought That?"

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George Watson has a simple point to his article "Are Poems Historical Acts."  The quote "But Shakespeare can't have thought that" (33) brings to light a very obvious, although missed part of literary criticism.  Historical writings were not written in the present to talk about a time in the past.  They were written in the past and criticized in the present.  As readers we can not read anymore into a word or a sentence than could have been read into it when it was written.  For example, take for instance the word "gay".  In the days of Shakespeare, "gay" meant happy.  So, if someone describes Romeo and Juliet as being "a gay couple", it obviously has to mean the Romeo and Juliet were happy, not homosexual, since they are a male and female.  A man and woman being married when they were 14 in a Shakespearean time period was the normal thing to do.  We can not criticize it today using our standards of living.  Watson makes this point numerous times in his article dealing with not only language, but also age.    

"Assumption makes a you know what out of you and me."

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Keesey makes a point that I have often wondered myself in the introduction to using the author as context.  "Not only are writers notoriously inclined to be reticent, evasive, or even deceptive when discussing the "meaning" of their works, but they are seldom in a position to know what they may have unconsciously intended..." (9).  Often times I have written something in a journal or in a blog that was just a jumble of unconscious thoughts that I really didn't have a specific meaning or direction for.  If I don't know what I am writing means, how would anyone else be able to interpret my meaning correctly?  I am sure that it has happened to every author at one time or another.   They wrote something when they were happy or sad that described the way that they felt right at that second.  It is possible that they may never feel that way again, or be able to describe what made them write the way that they do. 

As Keesey continues on page 13, we as readers make a lot of assumptions about what an author "means."  I was always taught that making assumptions could never be a good thing.  Decisions based on anything other than facts could always presumably lead to an incorrect reading. 

Finally Keesey makes a good point towards the end of the introduction that most authors do not write to set tradition or to become history.  It is unlikely that Shakespeare sat at a desk and thought "In 500 years this is going to be read as history so I better make sure it is good."  Authors write for the present.  It doesn't become the past until time has passed.
"What is Literature?"  I don't know.  And I still don't know after reading the article which I expected to answer the question for me. 

Although I found it incredibly annoying that I didn't have a concrete answer as to what Literature is, I have a few more ideas of what it could be. 

The formalist approach to literature brought together multiple ideas such as dialect and the use of language and how important it is.  I found it interesting that "literature is a 'special' kind of language".  I never thought about it in that way.  I notice the types of words that are being used in writing, but usually attribute them to the time period or the area.  It didn't occur to me that sometimes they are a purposeful device in writing. 

It was also interesting that the point was mentioned that we do not always read for what is being said.  We often read for what is not being said.  Although it may be a lame example, I read the whole series of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" books a few summers ago. As I was reading I could easily see the words that were being written for a teenage girl.  But behind the text, I could also see the hidden innuendos that an adult reader could easily pick up.  They were the type of books that you would take different things from depending upon when in your life you read them. 

The idea that Literature has no meaning until someone gives it meaning makes sense.  How often do people wait to see what makes the Top 10 list before they pick it up-or on the opposite side-stay far away from it. 

It is important to realize that different groups of people take different things from a work.   In  a SHU European History class I read many novels that were "good" Literature.  However , I am sure that people from the European culture can take far more from a book about their culture because they live it everyday.

Can Tradition Exist Without History?

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T.S. Elliot mentions many brilliant points in his story Tradition and the Individual Talent.  The idea that we appreciate a work when it is nothing like anything we have seen before seemed counterproductive.  In the year 2009, there is not much that has never been done before.  And when someone does produce something "different" many tend to write it off as odd, or eccentric. 
"Novelty is better than repetition" also seems counterproductive.  If a person likes a type of writing, or a certain author, they tend to be drawn to that style when picking a work of Literature.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Imagine if we ignored what we liked and instead read different types of things just to simply say that we had read them.  Not only would be missing out on what we know we like, we may get frustrated with ourselves if we do not like what the experts tell us we are "supposed" to.

If one can't compare Literature to works that were done in the past, there are no standards in which to judge by.  Michael Phelps could not have created a historic Olympic run if someone else in history had not set the standard to be broken. 

I also agree with Elliot that it is easier to write about history when there isn't so much of it.   When reading a history book today we often times have to figure out for ourselves how much "fact" we believe.  When there was no history, it was far easier to create some.

Elliot points out that often times we take authors and judge them based upon what they are written.  An author is a person outside of his or her novel just as a football players is a person  off the football field. 

"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion."  Writers write what they know.   A book about sailing is of no use to someone who is trying to learn how to sail if it written by a police office who has never been on a boat.  A poem about losing the love of your life is not any good if the author can not make you feel an emotional tie to the words and make your heart ache about the thought of losing the love of your life.


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Recent Comments

Bethany Bouchard on Magically Delicious: That is a very profound observ
Katie Vann on Peat and Repeat: Repetition is important, but I
Michelle Tantlinger on Peat and Repeat: I agree with the you as well.
Mara barreiro on Peat and Repeat: Jodi, I used this quote too. I
Erica Gearhart on "Could Shakespeare Have Thought That?": You both make great points. I
Bethany Merryman on Peat and Repeat: I can imagine that to be true.
Greta Carroll on "Could Shakespeare Have Thought That?": Jodi, you make a good point.