Lovecraft to the Speculative Realist philosophers. Lovecraft was one of the brightest stars of the horror and science fiction magazines, but died in poverty and relative obscurity in the s. In he was finally elevated from pulp status to the classical literary canon with the release of a Library of America volume dedicated to his work. The impact of Lovecraft on philosophy has been building for more than a decade.
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The eleventh, famous chapter, entitled "The Heresy of Paraphrase," is a polemic against the use of paraphrase in describing and criticizing a poem. Because literary tastes change so much over time, it seems reasonable to the historicist to evaluate each writer according to the standards of his own age. Brooks vehemently rejected this historical relativism, believing it amounts to "giving up our criteria of good and bad" and thus repudiating "our concept of poetry itself".
Heilman writes, to declare the literary work self-contained or autonomous was less to deny its connections with the nonliterary human world, past and present, than to assert metaphorically the presence in the poem of suprahistorical uniqueness along with the generic or the hereditary or the culturally influenced.
This is that Brooks and the New Critics did not discount the study of the historical context of the literary work, nor its affective potential for the reader, nor its connection to the life experiences of the author. As he wrote in his essay The Formalist Critics, such study is valuable, but should not be confused with criticism of the work itself. It can be performed as validly for bad works as good ones.
In fact, it can be performed for any expression, nonliterary or literary. In The Well Wrought Urn, theory illuminates practice and vice versa. The poems are meant to be "the concrete examples on which generalizations are to be based". It is a language in which the connotations play as great a part as the denotations.
And I do not mean that the connotations are important as supplying some sort of frill or trimming, something external to the real matter in hand. I mean that the poet does not use a notation at all—as the science may be properly be said to do so. The poet, within limits, has to make his language as he goes.
Brooks in his interpretation challenges the conception of Donne as being an early example of the use of eccentric metaphor, anticipating Yeats and Eliot, instead asserting that he is an extreme example of what all good poetry exemplifies, namely, paradox. The message of this poem seems straightforward and was duplicated by many other "graveyard" poems of the late eighteenth century. He claims that Wordsworth and Tennyson frequently wrote better i. Wordsworth sought to write directly and forcefully, without sophistry or wordplay.
But his language is, according to Brooks, nevertheless paradoxical. Brooks points out that while the evening is described as quiet and calm, it is also breathless with apparent excitement.
There is no final contradiction between this kind of excitement and this kind of calm, but the meaning of the words are being modified by each other, moving away from their purely denotative meaning. This is a good example of what "paradox" means to Brooks: the poet expresses himself in words that are metaphorical and thus protean in their meaning, that contradict one another because of their connotations. This was a rejection of the typical method of interpretation for these poets, which is to judge them by the Romantic standards of their day and in the light of their biographies.
Poems are not simply "messages" expressed in flowery language. The language is crucial in determining the message; form is content. Thus to try to abstract the meaning of a poem from the language in which that meaning is rooted, the paradoxical language of metaphor, is to disregard the internal structure of the poem that gives it its meaning.
But Brooks instead wants us to see poetry as like music, a ballet, or a play: The structure of a poem resembles that of a ballet or musical composition. It is a pattern of resolutions and balances and harmonizations, developed through a temporal scheme Therefore, any intellectual proposition within the poem must be viewed in the context of all the other propositions expressed in the highly changeable language of metaphor.
The poem does not try to find the truth-value of a particular idea; it tries to juxtapose many, contradictory ideas together and reach a sort of resolution. The poet is trying to "unify experience" by making poetry not a statement about experience but an experience itself, with all the contradictory elements contained in one cultural expression, i.
The Well-Wrought Urn: Faulkner and Jefferson on the Practice of Freedom
When he named his apocryphal town "Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson placed a number of perplexing ideas into the stream of American thought, and in the thirty-six years of his Mississippi cycle, Faulkner takes up those ideas and comments on American history, particularly the history of the American South as he perceived it and as his predecessors and contemporaries shaped it. When he named his apocryphal town "Jefferson, Mississippi," Faulkner placed Jefferson precisely at the center of his discourse, creating a structural metaphor that presisted throughout his writing career. The Well-Wrought Urn examines how Faulkner uses the facts of Southern and American history re-imagined in apocryphal settings to approach the truths of that history as they relate to the classic liberal article of faith-individual freedom, self-reliance, the commonwealth. The result is a synthesis of literary criticism and history that relies on the best works of Faulkner criticism in tandem with the best work of American historians to approach, through historical reasoning, a new reading of Faulkner. Life in a republic, citizenship in the commonwealth, the practice of freedom were timely subjects when Thomas Jefferson recorded his dream of an American republic; they were timely subjects when Faulkner took them up in his Mississippi narratives; they remain timely subjects now, as Americans face a challenging and uncertain future.
The Well Wrought Urn Explained
The eleventh, famous chapter, entitled "The Heresy of Paraphrase," is a polemic against the use of paraphrase in describing and criticizing a poem. Because literary tastes change so much over time, it seems reasonable to the historicist to evaluate each writer according to the standards of his own age. Brooks vehemently rejected this historical relativism, believing it amounts to "giving up our criteria of good and bad" and thus repudiating "our concept of poetry itself". Heilman writes, to declare the literary work self-contained or autonomous was less to deny its connections with the nonliterary human world, past and present, than to assert metaphorically the presence in the poem of suprahistorical uniqueness along with the generic or the hereditary or the culturally influenced.