Essay literature modern old theory


What are characteristics of Modernist literature, fiction in particular?

During this time period literacy rates started to rise in the public; no longer was reading exclusive for the wealthy or scholarly. With the rise of the literate public and swiftness of printing, criticism arose too. Reading was no longer viewed solely as educational or as a sacred source of religion; it was a form of entertainment. Many works of Jonathan Swift were criticized including his book Gulliver's Travels , which one critic described as "the detestable story of the Yahoos".

The British Romantic movement of the early nineteenth century introduced new aesthetic ideas to literary studies, including the idea that the object of literature need not always be beautiful, noble, or perfect, but that literature itself could elevate a common subject to the level of the sublime. German Romanticism , which followed closely after the late development of German classicism , emphasized an aesthetic of fragmentation that can appear startlingly modern to the reader of English literature, and valued Witz — that is, "wit" or "humor" of a certain sort — more highly than the serious Anglophone Romanticism.

The late nineteenth century brought renown to authors known more for their literary criticism than for their own literary work, such as Matthew Arnold. However important all of these aesthetic movements were as antecedents, current ideas about literary criticism derive almost entirely from the new direction taken in the early twentieth century. Early in the century the school of criticism known as Russian Formalism , and slightly later the New Criticism in Britain and in the United States, came to dominate the study and discussion of literature, in the English-speaking world.

Both schools emphasized the close reading of texts, elevating it far above generalizing discussion and speculation about either authorial intention to say nothing of the author's psychology or biography, which became almost taboo subjects or reader response. This emphasis on form and precise attention to "the words themselves" has persisted, after the decline of these critical doctrines themselves.

In Northrop Frye published the influential Anatomy of Criticism. In his works Frye noted that some critics tend to embrace an ideology , and to judge literary pieces on the basis of their adherence to such ideology.


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This has been a highly influential viewpoint among modern conservative thinkers. Michael Jones, for example, argues in his Degenerate Moderns that Stanley Fish was influenced by his adulterous affairs to reject classic literature that condemned adultery. In the British and American literary establishment, the New Criticism was more or less dominant until the late s.

Around that time Anglo-American university literature departments began to witness a rise of a more explicitly philosophical literary theory , influenced by structuralism , then post-structuralism , and other kinds of Continental philosophy. It continued until the mids, when interest in "theory" peaked. Many later critics, though undoubtedly still influenced by theoretical work, have been comfortable simply interpreting literature rather than writing explicitly about methodology and philosophical presumptions.

Related to other forms of literary criticism, the history of the book is a field of interdisciplinary inquiry drawing on the methods of bibliography , cultural history , history of literature , and media theory. Principally concerned with the production, circulation, and reception of texts and their material forms, book history seeks to connect forms of textuality with their material aspects.

Among the issues within the history of literature with which book history can be seen to intersect are: the development of authorship as a profession, the formation of reading audiences, the constraints of censorship and copyright, and the economics of literary form. Today, interest in literary theory and continental philosophy coexists in university literature departments with a more conservative literary criticism of which the New Critics would probably have approved.

Disagreements over the goals and methods of literary criticism, which characterized both sides taken by critics during the "rise" of theory, have declined. Many critics feel that they now have a great plurality of methods and approaches from which to choose. Ecocritics have drawn connections between literature and the natural sciences.

Darwinian literary studies studies literature in the context of evolutionary influences on human nature. And postcritique has sought to develop new ways of reading and responding to literary texts that go beyond the interpretive methods of critique.

A Simple Guide To Feminist Theories and Criticism

Many literary critics also work in film criticism or media studies. Some write intellectual history ; others bring the results and methods of social history to bear on reading literature. The value of extensive literary analysis has been questioned by several prominent artists.

Vladimir Nabokov once wrote that good readers do not read books, and particularly those which are considered to be literary masterpieces, "for the academic purpose of indulging in generalizations". He believes that critics are not so well-known and praised, to his disappointment, and that literary criticism is declining in its value because of the manner the general audience is directing it towards that underappreciated state. Joyce the modernist writer's grandson said, "If my grandfather was here, he would have died laughing Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man can be picked up, read, and enjoyed by virtually anybody without scholarly guides, theories, and intricate explanations, as can Ulysses , if you forget about all the hue and cry.

Literary Analysis: Using Elements of Literature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. August Hirsch, Jr.


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This audio file was created from a revision of the article " Literary criticism " dated , and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. Audio help. More spoken articles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Other short poems derive from the Latin bestiary tradition. Anglo-Saxon riddles are part of Anglo-Saxon literature. The most famous Anglo-Saxon riddles are found in the Exeter Book. This book contains secular and religious poems and other writings, along with a collection of 94 riddles, although there is speculation that there may have been closer to riddles in the book.

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The riddles are written in a similar manner, but "it is unlikely that the whole collection was written by one person. Although the Exeter Book has a unique and extensive collection of Anglo-Saxon riddles, [55] riddles were not uncommon during this era. Riddles were both comical and obscene. The Vercelli Book and Exeter Book contain four long narrative poems of saints' lives, or hagiography.

Andreas is 1, lines long and is the closest of the surviving Old English poems to Beowulf in style and tone. The cult of the True Cross was popular in Anglo-Saxon England and this poem was instrumental in promoting it. Guthlac consists of two poems about the English 7th century Saint Guthlac.


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  4. Juliana describes the life of Saint Juliana, including a discussion with the devil during her imprisonment. There are a number of partial Old English Bible translations and paraphrases surviving. The Junius manuscript contains three paraphrases of Old Testament texts. These were re-wordings of Biblical passages in Old English, not exact translations, but paraphrasing, sometimes into beautiful poetry in its own right.

    The first and longest is of Genesis originally presented as one work in the Junius manuscript but now thought to consist of two separate poems, A and B , the second is of Exodus and the third is Daniel. The Nowell Codex contains a Biblical poetic paraphrase, which appears right after Beowulf , called Judith , a retelling of the story of Judith. Old English translations of Psalms have been preserved, following a prose version of the first 50 Psalms. In addition to Biblical paraphrases are a number of original religious poems, mostly lyrical non-narrative.

    The Dream of the Rood is a dream vision in which the personified cross tells the story of the crucifixion.

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    Christ appears as a young hero-king, confidant of victory, while the cross itself feels all the physical pain of the crucifixion, as well as the pain of being forced to kill the young lord. There are a number of religious debate poems. The longest is Christ and Satan in the Junius manuscript, it deals with the conflict between Christ and Satan during the forty days in the desert.

    Another debate poem is Solomon and Saturn , surviving in a number of textual fragments, Saturn is portrayed as a magician debating with the wise king Solomon. Other poetic forms exist in Old English including short verses, gnomes , and mnemonic poems for remembering long lists of names. There are short verses found in the margins of manuscripts which offer practical advice, such as remedies against the loss of cattle or how to deal with a delayed birth, often grouped as charms.

    The longest is called Nine Herbs Charm and is probably of pagan origin.

    Definition of Ecocriticism

    There are a group of mnemonic poems designed to help memorise lists and sequences of names and to keep objects in order. Anglo-Saxon poetry is marked by the comparative rarity of similes. This is a particular feature of Anglo-Saxon verse style, and is a consequence both of its structure and of the rapidity with which images are deployed, to be unable to effectively support the expanded simile. As an example of this, Beowulf contains at best five similes, and these are of the short variety.

    This can be contrasted sharply with the strong and extensive dependence that Anglo-Saxon poetry has upon metaphor , particularly that afforded by the use of kennings. The most prominent example of this in The Wanderer is the reference to battle as a "storm of spears". Old English poetry traditionally alliterates, meaning that a sound usually the initial consonant sound is repeated throughout a line. For instance, in the first line of Beowulf , "Hwaet!

    We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum", [63] meaning "Lo! The Old English poet was particularly fond of describing the same person or object with varied phrases, often appositives that indicated different qualities of that person or object. For instance, the Beowulf poet refers in three and a half lines to a Danish king as "lord of the Danes" referring to the people in general , "king of the Scyldings" the name of the specific Danish tribe , "giver of rings" one of the king's functions is to distribute treasure , and "famous chief".

    Such variation, which the modern reader who likes verbal precision is not used to, is frequently a difficulty in producing a readable translation. Old English poetry, like other Old Germanic alliterative verse, is also commonly marked by the caesura or pause. In addition to setting pace for the line, the caesura also grouped each line into two couplets. The amount of surviving Old English prose is much greater than the amount of poetry. Old English prose first appears in the 9th century, and continues to be recorded through the 12th century as the last generation of scribes, trained as boys in the standardised West Saxon before the Conquest, died as old men.

    The most widely known secular author of Old English was King Alfred the Great — , who translated several books, many of them religious, from Latin into Old English. Alfred, wanting to restore English culture , lamented the poor state of Latin education:. So general was [educational] decay in England there were very few on this side of the Humber who could Alfred proposed that students be educated in Old English, and those who excelled should go on to learn Latin.

    Alfred's cultural program produced the following translations: Gregory the Great 's The Pastoral Care , a manual for priests on how to conduct their duties; The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius; and The Soliloquies of Saint Augustine. Other important [66] Old English translations include: Historiae adversum paganos by Orosius , a companion piece for St. He included some lives of the saints in the Catholic Homilies , as well as a cycle of saints' lives to be used in sermons.

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