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Literary Theory. An Introduction. SECOND EDITION. Terry Eagleton. St Catherine '5 College. Oxford. Blackwell. Publishing. Terry Eagleton "Introduction: What is Literature?" If there is such a thing as literary theory, then it would seem obvious that there is something called literature. Ideologies I. Title ISBN ISBN pbk US Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Eagleton, Terry, - Ideology.

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PDF | On Jan 1, , Dámaso LÓPEZ GARCÍA and others published Literary Theory. An Introduction, de Terry Eagleton. 𝗣𝗗𝗙 | Terry Eagleton, the author of How to Read Literature, is a well-known British literary theorist, critic and public intellectual. He is a professor of English. I hope it will also prove useful to specialists in the field, not least because it argues against what I take to be a current orthodoxy. I do not believe that this.

What is parodied by postmodernist culture, with its dissolution of art into the prevailing forms of commodity production, is nothing less than the revolutionary art of the twentieth-century avant garde. It is as though postmodernism represents the cynical belated revenge wreaked by bourgeois culture upon its revolutionary antagonists, whose utopian desire for a fusion of art and social praxis is seized, distorted and jeeringly turned back upon them as dystopian reality.

I say it is as though postmodernism effects such a parody, because Jameson is surely right to claim that in reality it is blankly innocent of any such devious satirical impulse, and is entirely devoid of the kind of historical memory which might make such a disfiguring self-conscious.

To place a pile of bricks in the Tate Gallery once might be considered ironic; to repeat the gesture endlessly is sheer carelessness of any such ironic intention, as its shock value is inexorably drained away to leave nothing beyond brute fact.

The depthless, styleless, dehistoricized, decathected surfaces of postmodernist culture are not meant to signify an alienation, for the very concept of alienation must secretly posit a dream of authenticity which postmodernism finds quite unintelligible. It is impossible to discern in such forms, as it is in the artefacts of modernism proper, a wry, anguished or derisive awareness of the normative traditional humanism they deface.

Postmodernism is thus a grisly parody of socialist utopia, having abolished all alienation at a stroke. By raising alienation to the second power, alienating us even from our own alienation, it persuades us to recognize that utopia not as some remote telos but, amazingly, as nothing less than the present itself, replete as it is in its own brute positivity and scarred through with not the slightest trace of lack.

Reification, once it has extended its empire across the whole of social reality, effaces the very criteria by which it can be recognized for what it is and so triumphantly abolishes itself, returning everything to normality.

The traditional metaphysical mystery was a question of depths, absences, foundations, abysmal explorations; the mystery of some modernist art is just the mind-bending truth that things are what they are, intriguingly self-identical, utterly shorn of cause, motive or ratification; postmodernism preserves this self-identity, but erases its modernist scandalousness. The dilemma of David Hume is surpassed by a simple conflation: fact is value.

Utopia cannot belong to the future because the future, in the shape of technology, is already here, exactly synchronous with the present. A distinction between 'fact' and 'fiction'; then, seems unlikely to get us very far, not least because the distinction itself is often a questionable one.

It has been argued, for instance, that our own opposition between 'historical' and 'artistic' truth does not apply at all to the early Icelandic sagas.

Gibbon no doubt thought that he was writing historical truth, and so perhaps did the authors of Genesis, but they are now read as' fact' by some and 'fiction' by others; Newman; certainly thought his theological meditations were true, but they are now for many readers'literature'.

Moreover, if 'literature includes much 'factual' writing, it also excludes quite a lot of fiction.

Superman comic and Mills and Boon novels are fiction but not generally regarded as literature, and certainly not Literature. If literature is 'creative' or 'imaginative' writing does this imply that history, philosophy and natural science a uncreative and unimaginative?

Perhaps one needs a different kind of approach altogether. Perhaps literature is definable not according to whether it is fictional or 'imaginative', but because it uses language in peculiar ways.

Summary and Evaluation of Terry Eagleton’s “What is Literature?”

On this theory, literature is a kind of writing which, in the words of the Russian critic Roman Jacobson, represents an 'organized violence committed on ordinary speech'. Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from everyday speech. If you approach me at bus stop and murmur 'Thou still unravished bride of quietness' then I am instantly aware that I am in the presence of the literary. I know this because the texture, rhythm and resonance of your words are in excess of their abstract able meaning -or as the linguists might more technically put it, there is disproportion between the signifies and the signifies Your language draws attention to itself, flaunts its material being, as statements like 'Don't you know the drivers are on strike?

The Formalists emerged in Russia in the years before the Bolshevik revolution, and flourished throughout the s, until they were effectively silenced by Stalinism. A militant, polemical group of critics: they rejected the quasi- mystical symbolist doctrines which had influenced literary criticism before them, and in a practical, scientific spirit shifted attention to the material reality of the literary text itself.

Criticism should dissociate art from mystery and concern itself with how literary texts actually worked. Literature was not pseudo-religion or psychology or sociology but a particular organization of language.

It had its own specific laws, structures and devices, which were to be studied in themselves rather than reduced to something else. The literary work was neither a vehicle for ideas, are flection of social reality nor the incarnation of some transcendental truth. It was made of words, not of objects or feelings, and it was a mistake to see it as the expression of an author's mind.

Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Osip Brik once airily remarked, would have been written even if Pushkin had not lived. Formalism was essentially the application of linguistics to the study of literature; and because the linguistics in question were of a formal kind, concerned with the structures of language rather than with what one might actually say, the Formalists passed over the analysis of literary 'content' where one might always be tempted into psychology or sociology for the study of literary form.

Far from seeing form as the expression of content, they stood the relationship on its head: content was merely the 'motivation' of form, an occasion or convenience for a particular kind of formal exercise. Don Quixote Is not 'about' the character of that name: the character is just a device for holding together different kinds of narrative technique.

Animal Farm for the Formalists would not be an allegory of Stalinism; on the contrary, Stalinism would simply provide a useful opportunity for the construction of an allegory.

Capitalism, Modernism and Postmodernism

It was this perverse insistence which won for the Formalists their derogatory name from their antagonists; and though they did not deny that art had a relation to social reality -indeed some of them were closely associated with the Bolsheviks -they provocatively claimed that this relation was not the critic's business.

The Formalists started out by seeing the literary work as a more or less arbitrary assemblage of 'devices', and only later came to see these devices as interrelated elements or 'functions' within a total textual system. What was specific to literary language, what distinguished it from other forms of discourse, was that it deformed' ordinary language in various ways. Under the pressure of literary devices, ordinary language was intensified, condensed, twisted, telescoped, drawn out, turned on its head.

It was language 'made strange'; and because of this estrangement, the everyday world was also suddenly made unfamiliar.

In the routines of everyday speech, our perceptions of and responses to reality become stale, blunted, or, as the Formalists would say, 'automatized'.

Literature, by forcing us into a dramatic awareness of language, refreshes these habitual responses and renders objects more 'perceptible'. By having to grapple with language in a more strenuous, self-conscious way than usual, the world which that language contains is vividly renewed.

The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins might provide a particularly graphic example of this. Literary discourse 'estranges or alienates ordinary speech, but in doing so, paradoxically, brings us into a fuller, more intimatepossession of experience.

Most of the time we breathe in air without being conscious of it: like language,it is the very medium in which we move. But if the air is suddenly thickened or infected we are forced toattend to our breathing with new vigilance, and the effect of this may be a heightened experience of ourbodily life, we read a scribbled note from a friend without paying much attention to its narrativestructure; but if a story breaks off and begins again, switches constantly from one narrative level toanother and delays its climax to keep us in suspense, we become freshly conscious of how it isconstructed at the same time as our engagement with it may be intensified.

Answers to All TOEFL Essay Questions

The story, as the Formalistswould argue, uses impeding' or 'retarding' devices to hold our attention; and in literary language, thesedevices are laid bare'. It was this which moved Viktor Shlovsky to remark mischievously of LaurenceSterne's Tristram Shandy, a novel which impedes its own story-line so much that it hardly gets off heground, that it was 'the most typical novel in world literature'. The Formalists, then, saw literary language as a set of deviations from a norm, a kind of linguistic violence: literature is a special' kind of language, in contrast to the 'ordinary' language vecommonly use.

But to spot a deviation implies being able to identify the norm from which it swerves. Though 'ordinary language' is a concept beloved of some Oxford philosophers, the ordinary language of Oxford philosophers has little in common with the ordinary language of Glaswegian dockers. The languageboth social groups use to write love letters usually differs from the way they talk to the local vicar. Theidea that there s a single 'normal' language, a common currency shared equally y all members of society,is an illusion.

Any actual language consists of a highly complex range of discourses, differentiatedaccording to class, region, gender, status and so on, which can by no means be neatly unified into asingle, homogeneous linguistic community. One person's norm may be another's deviation: 'ginnel' for'alleyway' may be poetic in Brighton but ordinary language in Barnsley. Even the most 'prosaic' text of thefifteenth century may sound 'poetic' to us today because of its archaism.

If we were to stumble across anisolated scrap of writing from some long-vanished civilization, we could not tell whether it was 'poetry' ornot merely by inspecting it, since we might have no access to that society's 'ordinary' discourses; and evenif further research were to reveal that it was 'deviatory', this would still not prove that it was poetry asnot all linguistic deviations are poetic.

Slang, for example.To place a pile of bricks in the Tate Gallery once might be considered ironic; to repeat the gesture endlessly is sheer carelessness of any such ironic intention, as its shock value is inexorably drained away to leave nothing beyond brute fact. In a world.

They were problems. It is not the most popular of beliefs among the disfigured victims of Basque separatism. Marxist ideas became vital to anti-colonial. By letting professors teach independently, the field coverage model allows professors to avoid referring to their academic peers about what and how they are teaching.

And this also means that there are no rational grounds for judging between cultures.

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