After the New Criticism by Frank Lentricchia

By Frank Lentricchia

This paintings is the 1st background and evaluate of up to date American severe conception inside its eu philosophical contexts. within the first half, Frank Lentricchia analyzes the impression on our serious considered Frye, Stevens, Kermode, Sartre, Poulet, Heidegger, Sussure, Barthes, Levi-Strauss, Derrida, and Foucault, between different, much less important figures. In a moment half, Lentricchia turns to 4 exemplary theorists at the American scene--Murray Krieger, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Paul de guy, and Harold Bloom--and an research in their careers in the lineage confirmed partially one.
Lentricchia's severe purpose is in facts in his sustained assault at the roughly hidden formalist premises inherited from the recent serious fathers. Even within the identify of ancient cognizance, he contends, modern theorists have frequently reduce literature off from social and temporal strategies. by way of so doing he believes that they've disadvantaged literature of its correct values and became the educating of either literature and concept right into a rarefied job. All alongside the best way, with the aid of such various thinkers as Saussure, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Bloom, Lentricchia exhibits a technique wherein destiny serious theorists may well withstand the mandarin attitudes in their fathers.

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Another shibboleth of the New Critics-one worth remembering, given recent attempts to portray them as life-denying formalists-was that literature gives a "special kind of knowledge" of nonliterary, nonlinguistic phenomena. Though in the end the New Critic cannot justify that claim, and probably is trapped in an aestheticism of his own, still it was his intention to give literature the cultural relevance of a cognitive role. "50 Over and over he tells us that literature is made exclusively out of other literature, and that the literary universe is a representation not of the way things are, but of the ways of human desire.

This "stepping outside" occurs in an act of self-consciousness, in which mythic structures are taken apart-presumably by the myth-maker 37 Versions of Existentialism himself, in the very process of myth-making-and shown to be fictions. The self-conscious myth-maker is a fictionalist capable of writing King Lear, while the unself-conscious myth-maker is a moral degenerate capable of a violent anti-Semitism. Kermode puts it this way: We have to distinguish between myths and fictions. Fictions can degenerate into myth whenever they are not consciously held to be fictive.

Kairos, as Kermode puts it in an unguarded moment, is an "escape" from mere chronicity. We turn to kairos, or "fictive time," because kairos is time "filled with significance," charged with meaning derived from its relation to both origin and end. But as usual Kermode cannot be satisfied with a simple dualism: kairos as such is fantasized time, mere escape from the truth of chronos. Kairos cannot in itself satisfy the mature mind: "Men in the middest make considerable imaginative investments in coherent patterns which, by the provision of an end, make possible a satisfying consonance with the origins and with the middle ....

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