LITERARY CRITICISM PDF
BACKGROUND INFO. A very basic way of thinking about literary theory is that these ideas act as different lenses critics use to write and talk about art, literature, . Literary criticism is the method used to interpret any given work of literature. The different schools of literary criticism provide us with lenses which ultimately. “Literary criticism is the study, analysis, and evaluation of imaginative literature. Everyone who If an individual offers a sound analysis based on connections.
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Literary theories were developed as a means to understand the various ways Feminist Criticism: A feminist critic sees cultural and economic disabilities in a. Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism. Introduction. A very basic way of thinking about literary theory is that these ideas act as different lenses critics use to. PDF Drive is your search engine for PDF files. As of today we have 78,, eBooks for you to download for free. No annoying ads, no download limits, enjoy .
Throughout the history, many critics has evaluated immense work of literature and interpreted the master works to give its taste. But the concept has been defined differently by various intellectuals and possess a unique nature, and has a specific functions to play. Thus the criticism is looking at a piece of art from another side, may appear much less beneficent and beautiful, whereby revealing its beauty.
The art which is created by the artist or writer carries meaning and beauty so the critics analyze, give beauty and appreciation to it. Some consider criticism to be secondary or inferior to creation but the difference between two is that the artist creation is based on personal and subjective whereas critic is impersonal, dispassionate and detached. Thus there is no work of art, which is no followed by criticism. Thus they must share a bond of affinity because the critic must support and help him to expose the literary beauty and meaning Literary criticism is an art or an exact science, when it comes to accuracy.
Lawerence n. Eliot lies his individuality and originality and is like scientist working with open mind for realization of truth which he knows can only be tentative Many critic demonstrated that the function of criticism is the evaluation of literature in order to serve the reader in understanding its moral and philosophical tendencies in it. The interpretation of the literature include assessment and appreciation to the work of literature which contains secrets and give meaning to it.
The function of criticism is to interpret, evaluate and judge the literary work. The interpretation can be done either by direct examination where the literature can be analyzed simply by reviewing its contents, aesthetic and moral principles.
A particular literature expresses the atmosphere of that age and the work of art express the man who created it.
Every work of literature is the product of a particular race, a particular environment and a particular time, and that one cannot understand and interpret that work completely, or even adequately, until one has studied that race, that environment and that time Hazlitt, Interpretation is not only to understand the art but to show that there is a mystery behind so the critics analysis and formulates the meaning to the art. After interpreting, comes the evaluation of the literary work.
The examination of the work must be carried out in order to decide how well or bad is the work of literature T. Criticism means to judge. Thus a critic is interpreter first, and a judge later, he should judge it impartially without personal likes and dislikes, prejudices objectivity.
That the critic should be guided by facts and facts alone. He should approach the work of art with a free mind, unprejudiced by any theories or preconceived notions. Only then can he be completely objective and impersonal. It is in this way that criticism approaches to the position of science and can passes a verdict on it.
Marxism in Literary Criticism
Expressionism is essentially modern. Eliot and James Joice are its most famous exponents. A short, allegorical tale in prose or verse designed to convey a moral lesson. Characters are generally but not always speaking animals or inanimate objects which symbolize human beings. This term is also used in literary criticism in the neo-classical period for the plot or action of a narrative and particularly of an epic poem Watt and Watt.
Introduction to Literary Theory
At end of seventeenth century it was used for any short humorous play in which plot and incidents are exaggerated. Boisterous stage business, loud laughter, slapstick and horse play. In general, farce bears the same relation to high comedy that melodrama bears to high tragedy. In the fifteenth century the word humanism was used for Graeco-Roman culture which took place held hitherto by medieval scholasticism in Christian Europe.
Philosophy less abstract and more concerned with relationship between human beings was called Humanism.
From this time onwards its influence is overwhelming. For a humanist, life herein this world and not the other world is a matter of concern. Objects should be presented not in great details at the time of observation but the way they have impressed an artist.
Impressionist work subjectively. In literature, in all elements of his composition episodes, characters, settings, moods, the artist attempts to present through a highly selected details the impression that his material have made on him.
Often this is sketchy. Vincent Van Gough is the greatest example. Images are essentially figures of speech such as simile, metaphor etc. They are called images because in them one thing is im gained or expressed. It was originally very popular romantic play. Tense sentiments, exaggerated situations and highly emotionalised music and songs were elements of it.
It originated in France. Finally as an adjective this term is used to short stories, novels and in fact all forms of literary art that are marked with melodramatic devices and moods. Often used as synonym of realism, it means that the artist attempts accurately to imitate nature. Nowadays it is used to express a slavish attempt to reproduce details from life with selection. Sometimes called photographic realism. In French literature Flauber, Zola of nineteenth century attempted to approach life in scientific manner, recording external appearances like a scientist.
Moore, Hardy gave rise to violet outcries about obscenities of the French naturalist. The word in English still carries with it at least to some mind a bad connotation for much vulgarity and obscenity has often justified in the name of Naturalism. This term is used loosely in literature. It signifies works which depicts life as it is. Hence Realism is commonly opposed to idealism, romanticism and escapism, all of which suggest a flight away from reality into imagination.
There are of course degrees of realism. To some it may be en revelation of sordid, unpleasant details. In loose sense, it is a tendency in art to represent life as it is not — either with the help of imagination, to distort real world or to escape from it entirely into shadowy realm of romance. Often romanticism is opposite to classicism also. Imagination, emotion, subjectivity, love of the past love of Nature and faith in the supernatural in various degrees are characteristics of romantic literature.
Formal intellectual culture which prevailed in Christian Europe during Middle Ages Twelfth century to fifteenth century schoolmen who studied in medieval universities; presently taken as meaningless hair splitting discussion. Technique of a small twentieth century group of painters and writers who violate conventions by attempting to create reality through eccentric distortion of objects presented.
In literature, surrealism has taken a direction of seeking effective expression by throwing words out of normal and logical sequence by violating the demands of logic and rational control.
Symbols and Symbolism: Symbols are essentially words which are not merely annotative but also evocative and emotive. Through symbols a writer can express much more than by use of words. In symbolic poetry the poet communicates unique personal feeling, he makes use of image words for the purpose. Symbolism is oblique or indirect mode of expression which suggests much more than is actually described. It deals with the infinite and the absolute and in the words of Y. It means meaningless repetition.
This is considered to be both its strength and its weakness. One never feels that the philosopher relished the course of lectures which he gave on the subject of poetry. But there the subject was confronting him as certainly a thing as marine biology or legal codification, and nothing could he pass by without giving it its classification and asserting laws.
It does not interest itself with possibilities of the future. The declarations of laws seem aimed rather at explaining how the dramatists had worked than how they might or should work.
It is an effort to understand literature as physiology might be understood. It is because of this that Eliot has cited Aristotle to illustrate his idea of the perfect critic. Its historical importance has been unique. There was no period in European literature when its influence was not felt.
Its contemporary relevance appears to be equally remarkable. Richards has stated that Aristotle knew the problems of aesthetics as clearly and as fully as the latter thinkers and was as competent in his explanations. The following confession of a great teacher of literature might convey to us its value to a student of literature at any time and in any clime: Aristotle was born in B.
He gave as much importance to experiment and observation as to study. He had taken all knowledge as this province and wrote authoritative works on metaphysics, ethics, logic, religion, politics, zoology, botany, meteorology, rhetoric and poetry. We are here concerned only with the last work. The Poetics is a short treatise of about fifty pages. There are controversies about the text itself. It is generally agreed that it is just lecture notes, not meant for publication and written round about B.
The Poetics consists of 26 chapters and a short summary of their contents is given to facilitate a detailed study. The first five chapters are in the form of an introduction. These are distinguished from one another according to the medium, objects and manner of imitation.
The medium of imitation in the case of the first three is rhythm, language and harmony, used singly or in combination.
The second chapter deals with the objects of imitation. These are men in action or the activities of men. These men may be good or bad and the distinction between tragedy and cemoedy depends upon this difference.
The next chapter describes the manner of imitation which may be either dramatic, narrative, or pure drama. There is a short digression about the name and original home of drama. Chapters four and five give a short account of the origin to human instincts — the instinct for imitation and the instinct for rhythm and harmony.
Principles Of Literary Criticism
In its growth, it diverged in two directions. The imitation of noble action and noble persons by serious poets led to writing of the epic and tragedy whereas the imitations of the ignoble by the meaner sort resulted in satire and comedy.
Both the tendencies are found in the poems of Homer, but tragedy and comedy exhibit this distinction in the most developed form. Then the successive stages in the history of tragedy are traced. In chapter five, comedy is defined as the imitation of what his ugly or faulty but not painful or harmful.
A brief account of the rise of comedy is given. Epic and tragedy are compared and contrasted. Chapter six contains the famous definition of tragedy. This chapter is said to be the heart of Poetics and the rest of the treatise an elaboration of the topics mentioned therein. The first part of this definition distinguishes tragedy from comedy; the second one; from the lyric; the second and third distinguish it from the epic; the last one describes its effect.
The definition may be analysed in another way. The first part describes the subject matter of tragedy, i. The second part refers to its means, i. The fourth part mentions the end, i.
The six elements of tragedy in the order of importance are stated to be plot, character, thought, language, music and spectacle. Plot is said to be the combination of the incidents of the story.
Character gives us qualities and reveals the moral purpose of the agents. Thought is the intellectual element shown in what the characters say when proving or disproving a point. Diction is the expression of thoughts in words. The next eight chapters deal with plot.
The plot must be a complete whole and of a size to be comprehended as a whole. It must have unity; this unity does not consist in the unity of the hero, but in the unity of action. This can be attained by following the ideal thruth rather than the historical truth. The principle of probability or necessity must be observed in construction.
Episodic plots are condemned and the best are those having the elements of design and surprise. Plots without peripeteia are simple and with peripeteia are complex. Peripeteia, reversal of situation. Recognition or discovery Anagnorisis and catastrophe or the tragic incident are defined and explained.
The quantitative parts of tragedy — prologue etc: Then the characteristics of the ideal plot are described chapter It should be complex and excite pity and fear. The unhappy ending is the best, though not popular.
Euripides is the most tragic of the poets. Chapter 14 instructs how to produce pity and fear by the plot.
The character should be good, true to type, true to human nature, and be consistent or true to itself. The principle of necessity or probability applies to character as to plot. As tragedy is an imitation of persons better than the ordinary men, the characters should be idealised. Chapter 16 describes various kinds of recognition, with examples.
The next two chapters provide practical rules for the tragic poet. Chapter 19 deals with thought. The next three deal with diction. The elements of language, the different kinds of words and style are discussed at length. The greatest thing by far is to be master of metaphor. Chapter 23 and 24 deal with the epic.
The epic too should have unity of action, as a drama. The epic, like tragedy might be either simple or complex, a story of character or one of suffering. Its meter, proved by experience, is the hexameter. It also needs impersonality. Homer was superior to the others in this, that he was aware of the part to be played by the poet himself in the poem and was admirable in speaking through his characters.
There is greater scope for the marvellous in the epic than in tragedy, because in it the agents are not visibly before one. Chapter 25 is devoted to certain contemporary controversies in criticism. Critics had discovered various faults in the works of the poets and severely condemned them. Aristotle tries to distinguish the real faults from those arising from faulty criticism and suggests methods of solving some of these problems.
Chapter 26 tries to evaluate the claims of epic and tragedy to be considered the higher form. The epic is said to be superior because it is free from the vulgarity of acting. Aristotle answers that vulgarity is the fault of the actors, not of tragedy. And tragedy can also be read and enjoyed. But tragedy is suoerior because it includes all the elements of the epic, and has in addition music and spectacle; it is vividly present to us; it is more concise and concentrated; and it has greater unity than the epic.
This is a brief summary of the Poetics. Now some of the important critical doctrines of the Poetics may be taken up for consideration. Of them, the most famous and crucial is the concept of poetry as a mode of imitation. Speaking in general about poetry and music, Aristotle says: This has resulted in different interpretations and critical controversies.
But the crucial value of the concept has been admitted by all. Aristotle was neither the discoverer of this principle nor was he the first to apply the term to poetry and art.
It was quite a common concept in Greek criticism and had already become old by the time of Plato. It was the chief weapon in the armoury of Plato while attacking poetry and castigating the poets. In employing and reinterpreting this word. Aristotle appears to be accepting the challenge thrown by Plato in the Republic and answering charges. There is no direct mention of Plato in the text, nor is there by reference to his views.
In the thenth book of the Republic, Plato ciondemns poetry for presenting a false picture of life and being quite useless. For Plato the only reality is the world of ideal forms. The world of everyday life is only an imperfect reflection of that invinsible world.
But ppoetry is an imitation or copy of this reflection. Hence it is twice removed from reality. The objects of the world and the products of useful arts through reflections and imitations of ideal forms serve certain real ends in life.
Food is eaten and a cot is used for sleeping. But the poetic description of sweet dishes and a fine painting of a cot cannot serve any such purpose. Being twice removed from reality they do not give us a true knowledge of things and being only imitations have no pragmatic value. Thus they have no place in the ideal kingdom. Plato had called poetry an imitation, Aristotle agrees with him. Not only does he admit it as true but insists that it is the distinguishing characteristic of poetry and fine art.
According to him it is on account of this that Homer is entitled to be called a poet while Empedocles remains a philosopher although both have written in verse. But imitation, Aristotle suggests, need not necessarily be literal copying, nor convey false information.
There are a number of statements in the Poetics which clearly prove that imitation did not mean slavish copying or a photographic representation for Aristotle 1.
Chap 24 2. A poem is a complete whole i. This is not found in life. Thus poetry presents to us not copies of the imperfect occureneces but the vision of the ideal forms of things. All these are sufficient to prove that artistic imitation is not mere copying the facts of life and forms of nature. On the other hand, it is creation although its creation is a re-creation. In its process it adopts the same procedure that nature follows in its creative process.
It is natural human activity and makes man superior to other animals because he is the most imitative creature in the world. Hence it is not possible to suppress it or ban it. Thus by giving a totally different interpretation of the whole idea of artistic imitation. Aristotle not only defended the arts from the unjust condemnation of Plato but also put the theory on logical and solid foundations. In the sixth chapter, Aristotle defines tragedy thus: The remaining portion of the Poetics may be described as an elaboration and explanation of his definition.
Its importance to criticism is held to be equal to that of Greek tragedy to drama. Before setting out to criticise, it is necessary to have a close look at it. The first part deals with the subject matter of tragedy; the second and the third with its means, the last with its effect.
Looked at from a different point of view, the first part distinguishes it from comedy whose subject matter is not of such serious significance. The second distinguishes it from the lyric and the dithyramb. This and the next distinguish it from the epic which employs a single meter and is narrative in form.
The last mentions the feelings that a work should arouse if it should be considered a tragedy.
The first thing that strikes a modern reader of Aristotle is about the ending of a tragedy. Tragedy is expected to end in the death or misfortune of the hero.
It is not because that Greek tragedies did not end in that manner nor was Aristotle unaware of the powerful appeal of such an end. On the other hand, the ideal tragic hero according to Aristotle, is one who falls from happiness into misery Ch While defending Euripides, the most tragic certainly of the dramatists, from the critics who blamed him for giving many of his tragedies an unhappy ending.
Aristotle appears to be going against the received opinion. Still, Aristotle did not include it in the definition, because a definition should be applicable to all the instances and not merely to the best ones. Many of the Greek tragedies from which Aristotle derived his definition dod not end in unhappiness e. We may note that some of the tragedies of Racine have a similar end. Hence Aristotle was quite correct in not including it in his definition.
Another aspect which strikes the reader is the total neglect of the tragic vision or view of life. Aristotle may have committed to include it because it differs from poet to poet, or that it belongs to the realms of philosopht and not poetry. But he has used in the definition a word which represents the Greek idea of it. The same word is used by Milton in his prefactory lines to Samson Agonistes to characterise the tragic view of life. But Aristotle has not elaborated it in the Poetics.
In Ch. He should not be a a good man passing from happiness ti misery, or b a bad man passing from misery to happiness, or c an extremely bad man falling from happiness to misery. Although there is general agreement about this description some critics have tries to point out exceptions to it. Smart argues that Christ, Orestes and Hamlet are completely blameless, yet their fate is tragic. Abercrombie says that even though Richard III and Macbeth are totally wicked, they are tragic heroes.
In Greek these terms do not refer to only moral qualities but also to intellectual and physical ones. Aristotle himself had such characters nefore him in Clytemnestra and Medea. Even in Richard and Macbeth the qualities that entile them to our pity and admiration are their valour and greatness and not their cruelty and treachery.
The view that the tragic hero may be completely blameless arises out of the ambiguity of another word. The latter meaning is the result of its use in the New Testament. It is held that Aristotle thinks that the tragic suffering which results from this mistake is a just reward for it. Aristotle nowhere says this.
On the contrary he explicitly states that pity is occasioned by undeserved misfortune. The Greek word used by Aristotle is Hamartia. This false step does not necessarily proceed from a defect of character or even a miscalculation through no fault of his own a man may be in a position where he must make one of two errors, and he may be the more tragic for choosing the right one — as Orestes did in the Cheophori and Antigone in the play named after her L.
By making the individual responsible for his actions it deepens the sense of waste. The hamartia is the tragic error; the peripeteia, its fatal working to a result the opposite of that intended; the amagnorsis. The recognition of the truth. Finally, whatever may be the opinions of the critics the practice of the poets and the history of tragedy have, Aristotle himself said, vindicated and amply justified his views.
Whatever the tragedian of whatever style and time has this hamartia, this human and not disgusting fault he has triumphed; wherever he has missed it, he has failed, in proportion to the breadth of his miss. Plot is the combination of incidents or things done in the story and is the most important of six.
Tragedy is an imitation not of persons but of action. This action is represented by the plot. So it is the action i.
Further a tragedy is impossible without plot but there may be one without character. The tragedies of most of the moderns are said to be characterless. Therefore the first essential the life and soul of tragedy is the plot and the characters come second.
We maintain that tragedy is primarily an imitation of action and that it is mainly for the sake of action that it imitates the personal agents. This view has led to a great deal of controversy. Once again this accusation is based upon a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of certain words, which Aristotle himself has taken care to define in the text.
Plot is not the mere story but the structured story. Character does not refer only to the agents but it is what makes us ascribe certain moral qualities to the agents and gives us qualities. Moreover Aristotle is discussing its relative importance in drama which is the representative of an action. When Aristotle says that there may be a tragedy without character all that he means is that there may be a play in which the moral qualities of the agents are not portrayed.
Thus Aristotle is justified in making the plot the chief element in drama, because it is by virtue of the plot that the characters live and have their being. What ever might be the view of the previous centuries in this matter, twentieth century critical opinion has fully supported Aristotle. Character when opposed to plot is just character in so far as it is inactive and in accordance with his metaphysical principles.
Aristotle is bound to give the preference to plot which is character in action and it is surely true that ost playgoers care a great deal more for an interesting plot even when the characters are common place, than for ingeniously or profoundly sketched characters who do nothing in particular. Now it would be agreed that the most significant dramatic expression of moral and intellectual quality is in action.
Aristotle says that tragedy is the imitation of an action with incidents arousing pity and fear where with to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions. The word is not explained in the present text and is believed to have been discussed in the second part which is lost.
In this situation critics have engaged themselves in deciphering its meaning and discussing its adequacy to explain tragic pleasure. Pity and fear are elements in human nature and in some men they are present in a disquieting degree. With these latter the tragic experiment is a necessity; but it is also in a certain sense good for all.
It serves as a sort of medicine, producing a catharsis to lighten and relieve the soul of the accumulated emotion within it; and as the relief is wanted there is always harmless pleasure attending the process of relief. It is a sort of homeopathic treatment. It should be borne in mind that with reference to tragedy the word is used only metaphorically.
Plaot argued that the emotional part of our nature which a strong man restrains within himself and a giver will wish to see starved in others is fed to satiety in Homer and tragedians. This paralyses the moral life of the citizens of the Republic. Tragedy then only exists in order to awaken pity and fear, but how can it be held innocent in so doing?
The answer liest in the word catharsis. Tragedy effects a catharsis of the feelings; of pity and fear, or more strictly of the tendencies to these feelings and it does so through pity and fear A. Milton explains it by stating that it is to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirred up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated.
The process is very well summarised by Humphrey House. A tragedy rouses the emotions from potentiallty to activity by worthy and adequate stimuli; it controls them by directing them to the right way and exercises them within the limit of the play as the emotions of the good man would be exercised.
We go to a theatre for enjoyment not for treatment. Aristotle also did not look upon tragedy as a medicine. He constantly speaks of tragic pleasure. Tragedy being an imitation and containing music and spectacle is a source of delight in its own right.
But if any one should ask how pity and fear, the most disturbing and painful emotions in life and the characteristic feeling aroused by tragedy can become pleasurable the explanation is to be found in catharsis. Now we may consider the merits and defects of Aristotle as a critic and begin with the defects.
The Poetics deals more with dramatics than with poetics. It is confined to the literature of only one country and even there does not deal with the whole of it. Only a few literary forms are considered and only one of them is discussed at length. Opinions are given and concepts formulated without adequate explanation. Aristotle is more concerned with the general and abstract principles than with particular authors and poems.
The tone thoughout is dry and arid and one notices the absence of that enthusiasm which must inspire the critic as well as the poetic.
We are always aware in the Poetics of the presence of the genius of prose Courthope. This is clearly seen in the chapters on style where the discussion happens to be grammatical and literary. Just as in considering the subject matter of tragedy he was nit concerned to recognise the dramatists as prophets, whose themes were the major problems of human destiny and gives no hint that Aeschylus had a sweep and grandeur infinitely greater than his fourth century successors, so in dealing with style he has no concern with personality or souls Hamilton Fyfe.
The whole intention seems to be to analyse rather than to enjoy, to instruct rather than to illumine. But we should remember that the work we have before us is only lecture notes and not a treatise meant for publication. Some of the defects might have vanished if Aristotle had written it out. Even in its sketchy and fragmentary form, its merits far outweigh its shortcomings. It is the earliest formal treatise on the art of poetry in European literature.
He is the first man in history to expose certain principles, purely aesthetic, to which the artist in fact conforms. Plato confused the study of art with the study of morals. Aristotle removing this confusion created the study of aesthetics R.
Scott James. Although confined to one literature no great harm is done. Because that literature was so rich and great. Much of what he says illustrates Greek thought and Greek literature, but much of what he says is the essence of right thinking about literature in general. In the prevailing atmosphere of the domination of ethics and distrust of the arts, it was Aristotle who found a honourale place for the products of imagination. Further, imitation or artistic creation is a natural instinct of the human species and is not only a means of pleasure but also a mode of learning.
Thus art, instead of presenting an illusion is a means of knowing a mode of discovery. It is an irony that this was missed by the most poetic of philosophers, Plato and was asserted by the least poetic, Aristotle. It is not merely abstract philosophical principles which interested Aristotle.
The chief literary kinds are discerned and clearly defined. These forms are stated to have their origin in the personalities of the poets and the results of experimentation and evolution. Discussion of authors and works, even though not enough, is quite competent in the few instances when it is done. The only sound plan that of taking actually accomplished works of art and endeavouring to ascertain how it is that they give the artistic pleasure is whit whatever falterings, pretty steadily pursued, says Saintsbury.
Eliot is more positive about it: Everything that Aristotle says illuminates the literature which is the occasion for saying it. As for critical interpretation of authors and works, Aristotle might have done it in last work on the poets. The Rhetoric is wholly devoted to the analysis of prose style. Some of the rules attributed to him like that of the three unities are not found in his work. That the empirical laws which he derived from the study of existing works were taken to be inviolable rules of literature is no fault of his.
His influence on European criticism is unparalled. Literary works not existing when he wrote and literary forms not dreamt of by him have been tested and judged by his rules. This is recommended as a good exercise even today and has been adopted by the Chicago school of American critics. More that the rules, more than the critical opinions and judgements, the temper exhibited and the procedure adopted by Aristotle has compelled admiration. No greater tribute can be paid to Aristotle than the fact that in his search for the perfect critic, the foremost poet and critic of the twentieth century found in him the great scientist and philosopher of classical antiquity; Aristotle is a person who has suffered from the adherence of persons who must be regarded less as his disciples than as his secretaries.
One must be frmly distrustful of accepting Aristotle in a canonical spirit: He was primarily a man of not only remarkable but universal intelligence; and universal intelligence means that he could apply his intelligence to anything, The ordinary intelligence is good only for certain classes of objects; a brilliant man of science, if he is interested in poetry at all, may conceive grotesque judgements; like one poet because he reminds him of himself, or another because he expresses emotions which he admires; he may use art, in fact, as the outlet for the egotism which is suppressed in his own personality.
But Aristotle had none of these impure desires to satisfy; in whatever sphere of interest, he looked solely and stead fastly at the Object: Tragic and epic are the only forms of poetry of which much is said in the Poetics. There is a chapter on the history of comedy and its nature seems to have been discussed in the missing second book. The chief other matter contained in the book was the full account of Catharsis, which we should give so much to have; comedy was probably described as effecting the purgation of a tendency to laughter as a tragedy does of that to pity and fear.
The Poetics is therefore far frombeing a theory in general, still less a theory of line art. No complete or even entirely consistent aesthetic theory can be elicited from it. Yet it contains perhaps a greater number of pregnant ideas on art than any other book.
He certainly was not like Plato, acutely sensitive to the magic and music of words. There are poems attributed to him and some of them are good. But in criticism his attitude of the scientist who while dissecting a frog is rightly blind to its exotic beauty. The soul of poetry and drama lies beyond the reach of his anatomical method but without any predecessor in the same field he successfully achieved almost all that criticism can achieve on inductive principles of observation, analysis, classification and generalistion.
The limited vision of his rather dogmatic commonsense he is the father of all academic dons — may seem often inadequate and sometimes irritating, but, as Saintsbury, a professor equally dogmatic and much more sensitive says in his history of criticism, although in literary criticism we have advanced at some points at farther positions, over most of the ground we are still engaged in consolidating the territory which Aristotle occupied.
They would find it a pleasant and profitable recreation. Hamilton Fyfe Although historians of aesthetics are sometimes pleased to present their facts as though they represented a progress from cruder to more refined opinion, from ignorance to wisdom, there is no sound basis for the procedure.
Aristotle was at least as clearly and fully aware of the relevant facts and as adequate in his explanation as any later inquiries. The first definition names the purpose of poetry explicitly as teaching.
At a much later point in the essay, when he is facing Platonic objections and is hence forced to reconcile the moral requirement with the fact that much fine poetry is immoral, Sidney says something different.
But he prefers to raise the question how poetry, which is defined as something moral, can be in fact either moral or immoral. Is the thesis about the morality of poetry a truism in the realm of poetics? Through poetry for Sidney is a more effective moral teacher than philosophy or history, the critic of poetry has to wait for the moral philosopher or the man of religion to tell him what is morally good and what is morally bad before he can proceed to judge a poem.
Sidney is content to achieve the latter at the expense of the former. Philip Sydney was born in He was the eldest son of a nobleman.
His father was very close to Queen Elizabeth. He went to school at Shewsbury, learnt Latin and French. Later he joined Christ Church, Oxford, but left it without earning degree. He was involved in a battle near Zutphen where he died in action. Sidney was an incarnation of chivalrous ideal. He excelled in court for reasonableness, his sincereity, his sense of honour, his depth of thought and his poetic nature.
He had keen interest in French, Italian literature. However, it is indirectly suggested he had written it in Sidney replied to this at this leisure, as a book it was published in He offers general defence of poetry as the earliest form of literature as imitation of nature yet transcending nature.
He says its contribution are better than history and philosophy. He provides examples a plenty. In second part Paragraphs he answers to various objections which might be raised. He names the various forms of poetry — the pastoral, the eligic, the comic, the satiric, the tragic, the lyric, and the heroical and points of merits and benefits and other pleasing aspects. He dismissed charges that poetry is merely rhyming and versing. He asserts that poetry is the most fruitful repository knowledge.
He insists that poetry corrupts the reader. He expresses view that Plato was not an adversary of poets but a patron of them. In the third and final part Paragraph Sidney examines the state of English poetry and drama.
He finds fault for their violations of the unities and for mingling of comic with tragic plays. He condemns use of gaudy diction and extravagance in their use of metaphors. However, he believes that the English language has great potentialities. From beginning to end he respects the percepts of the ancients and those of others which were practised in his time. As much is true of all his contemporaries.
No sooner does one of them turn critic, than he adheres to the school of antiquity, careless whether or not his own work obeys the laws he accepts and recommends. Poetry — the earliest form of composition in all countries. Sidney points out why poetry deserves to be honoured, esteemed and valued highly.
It is the first source of knowledge in all the languages. We support from our native Marathi — lilacharitra a Mahanubhaviya epic or Padmavat in Urdu. It is poetry which serves as the first nurse to provide illumination for the minds, users of newly born language.
It nourishes their minds for acquisition of other and more difficult forms of knowledge. In Greece, for example, the earliest writers were Musaeus, homer and Hesoid, all poets. The earliest philosophers appeared in the guise of poets. Thales, Empedocles gave expression of their philosophical ideas and theory in verse.
Pythagoras and Phocylides stated their moral counsels in verse. Even Plato was essentially a poet. The dialougues written by him show the Athenian citizens talking to one another in highly eloquent and poetical language. The historians borrowed from poetry their mode of writing. Herodotus and many who followed him later, derive from poetry their method of describing human behaviour and passions in moving manner. Neither philosophies nor historian could have achieved much popularity if they had not employed poetic methods and modes of writing.
Poets found even in barbarous nations. In Turkey there are no writers except theologians and poets. Even among Red Indians, who may be considered most barbarous and primitive and have not acquired art of writing, there are poets who make songs describing past deeds of their ancestors and the qualities of their Gods.
The poet is a Prophet and a Maker. This is a heavenly title bestowed upon the poet. Poetry is considered as divine knowledge. The Psalms of King David in the old Testament constitutes a divine poem. The Greeks called the writer of poetry a poet. The Poet not tied to the things and objects existing in Nature. For instance, Astromer has solar system arithmetic and study things measurable. A grammarian concerns himself with the rules of speech. Only the poet refuses to be tied to things, objects already existing in nature.
Poet builds up another nature, either by making things better than natural things or by creating things which never existed in nature.
All things and men created by poets are excellent in many respects. The imaginary things or persons created by poets are not unreal or unconvincing like castles which are built in the air.
On the contrary, the creations of poet poses a permanent appeal. Poetry an Art of Invitation, intended to teach and to delight. Three kinds of poetry; we find diine poetry in old Testament and Bible. Poetry which deals with philosophical matters which we find in Virgil and Lucretius.
However this second type suffers from disadvantage. This poetry remains confined to the matters of actual facts and subjects. It is the third kind of poetry which is true poetry.
These poets borrow nothing from what is happening or what has happened or what will happen. There is no restrictions on choice of subject. The only restraint on them is that which may be imposed by their own good taste. The poetry written by these poets provides such delight that readers feel a strong desire to acquire the quality of goodness. That being so, it is foolish to criticise or condemn these poets. True poetry takes various forms — the heroic, the lyrical, the tragic, the comic, the satiric, the eligic, the pastoral etc.
Some of these kinds are to be classified according to matter and some by the kind of meter in which they are written.
A large majority of poets have clothed their poetic work in the metrical kind of writing; that is why it is called verse. However, it is to be noted that verse or meter is only an ornament, an adornment. The distinctive mark of poetry is that it offers concrete pictures which afford delight as well as instruction. Poetry leads Human Beings to Virtuous Actions: Natural science, social science are forms of learning and are directed to the highest end which is knowledge of his own self by man considered as moral and social being.
But these are subordinate compared to poetry. The final end of all earthly learning is virtuous action and poetry stands supreme. The claims of Philosophers, the Historian and the Lawyer: Philosopher claims that he can best tell difference between virtue and vice, how best to govern society and family.
Historian claims that moral philosopher teaches only abstractions, while he teaches people to follow the virtuous examples of those who lived in the past. As for lawyer, he is concerned only with limited task of enforcing justice. The merit if a poet: He is both the philosopher and the historian. He combines percepts and concrete, general notion and the particular example. He is superior in that he describes both virtue and vice. Passions of mankind are portrayed by poets and dramatists more convincingly and vividly than accounts and definitions.
Historian cannot deviate from fact. This is his handicap. History deals with particular poetry deals with universal. Poet deals with facts on his own terms.
Poetry depicts tyrants being subjected to indescribable misery, while history must show unjust and cruel men getting on well in life. Thus poetry occupied higher position than history, because it encourages the reader to emulate the example of the just and good men and discourages them from following the example of the cruel and evil men.
The power of poetry to move the readers mind: Nobody can receive any moral teaching if his mind is not first moved by the desire to be taught. Teaching has no value if it does not movea man to act upon the lesson.
It is not only knowing that is important but acting upon the knowledge which one has acquired. The poet does not offer abstract and difficult definitions. The poet wins the mind of the readers from inert state or wickedness to virtue by offering to him all possible attractions. Its like a sugar coated pill.
In short, poetry with its delightful teaching has the power to instil virtue among human beings. The merits of various forms of poetry: Pastoral poetry serves a noble purpose by depicting the misery of people under cruel rulers and by depicting the blessedness which the lowest people can derie from goodness of those who occupy high positions.
It is unfair to condemn elegiac poetry which arouses pity in us by lamenting the weakness of mankind and the wretchedness of the world. Satirical poetry serves excellent purpose by making men laugh at their own follies. Comedy enables us to perceive the ugliness of evil and therefore to appreciate the beauty of virtue. Tragedy moves human heart. Rhyme and Verse lend charm to poetry: A poet may write poetry without rhyme and verse and a man may write in verse without genuine poetry.
Rhyme and verse add charm and are an aid to memory. Some objections to poetry answered: One objection is that a man can better spend his time in pursuit of knowledge than reading poetry. Now, no knowledge is so good as that which can teach virtue and acquire virtue as powerfully as poetry can.
Second objection is that poetry is the mother of all lies. The fact is that the poet is the least liar. Astronomer, physician, cartographer may arrie at wrong conclusions; but poet never lies because he does not make assertive conclusions. He does not tell his readers what is and what is not. He only tells them what should be what should not be. Aesop never claimed that animals speak and performed these actions. Aesop cannot be accused of having told lies.
These stories are taken symbolic or allegoric sense. Yet another objection to poetry is that the poet gives false or imaginary names to his characters. This charge is also false. The object of poet naming is not to build history but merely to produce a more vivid impression upon the mind of the readers. Another objection to poetry is that poetry corrupts the minds of readers by teaching them lustful love and wanton sinfulness. It is said eligic poetry is always lamenting the absence of mistress, lyrical poetry is voluptuous, even heroic poetry depicts lustful love as something admirable.
The fact is otherwise. Love is something beautiful and admirable. Love and beauty are not a fault. The art of poetry canot be censured because of aberrations of some poets. When misused, even medicine, law can be dangerous. Poetry, an incentive for soldiers and warriors: One of the charges against poetry is it weakens human beings, makes them effininate.
In fact, while poetry does encourage a contemplative and imaginative life, it encourages men to perform brave deeds. It is said Plato wanted to banish poetry from his ideal republic. The fact is he was himself most poetic of all philosophers.
He had picked up all sweetness of poetry and true points of poetry. View that he was opposed to poetry is based on sheer misunderstanding. In fact his ideal republic was itself not very commendable because this republic allowed the sharing of women by men thus permitting man to have any woman he liked.
Plato condemned not poetry but the misuse of poetry. He found poets of his time spread wrong opinions about Gods. The poets of his time did not invent Gods. Poets were not responsible for attributing low passions to the Gods.
The poets simply accepted the idea prevalent. What he wanted was to drive away wrong notions about Gods which the poets merely repeated in their poems on the basis of the opinions which were in current among the people.
In fact Plato in one of his dialogues, gives high praise to the poetry. In Ion, Plato attributed the writing poetry to divine inspiration. The state of poetry and poets in England: Inferior poets writing and publishing poetry in England. In the past the poets have flourished. Reputation had fallen. Inferior poets were disgracing muse. A natural genious of poetry alone is not enough.
Proper training is necessary. Even a gifted poet needs art and technique; good role models in front and sustained practice. English poets write as if they knew everything, while in fact that the poems are not products of their knowledge. Specimens of good poetry are Chauce in Troilus and Cressida, but even Chauce had his limitations.
Spencer, inspite of rustic, barbaric obsolete words, had much of good poetry. Unities of place and time were violated in English drama. The mingling of comic and tragic elements is another defect.
The comic element plays discordant effect. A serious play containing comic element would neither give rise to the feeling og admiration and pity which a true tragedy should produce; nor provide the right kind of mirth which comedy should provide.
This mongrel tragic comedy is surely to be deplored. In English plays of present, the comic portion in tragedy represents only indecency or vulgarity. The ancient dramatists too mingled comic with tragic elements in few cases, but they did not do it in clumsy manner.
The effect which comedy should aim at: The English dramatist think mistakenly that delight and laughter are one and the same thing, They think that delight cannot be without laughter. They are wrong. Comedy should also provide delightful instruction, The comic dramatist should arouse laughter by depicting such characters as fussy courtier, a cowardly fellow threatening a brave man, a pompous and ignorant school master, a traveller who has been corrupted by his travel.
English lyric poetry is unsatisfactory. Faults of style: Affected and inflected diction and far fetched words. Clumsy absurd alliterations, metaphors borrowed from all kinds and sources. The potentiallties of the English language: Some people object to foreign words. English language is getting enriched. English has its own grammar. English has tremendous potential to express thoughts and ideas of mind sweetly and appropriately.
Her methods of verification and rhyme produce sweetness as well as dignity in writing.Reading Travel W riting. The second chapter deals with the objects of imitation. In carnival, official authority and high culture were jostled 'from below' by elem ents of satire, parody, irony, m im icry, bodily hum or, and grotesque display. His respect for Spencer and Chaucer is note worthy. The first part of this definition distinguishes tragedy from comedy; the second one; from the lyric; the second and third distinguish it from the epic; the last one describes its effect.
A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. Rosalind Coward and John Ellis: Pantheon Boos, He faced traditional objections boldly. W riting a W om an's Life.