The Dilemma of Literary Science Author(s): István Sötér and René Bonnerjea Source: New Literary History, Vol

. 2, No. 1, A Symposium on Literary History (Autumn, 1970), pp. 85-100 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 01/03/2011 17:14
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The Dilemma of Literary Science Istv6.n Siottr I

texts only for a few chosen persons, who are always "to come" but who are never "here." This work in usum Delphinorum is as "distinguished" as it is futile. Building materials piled upon each other from which no house is built and from which the producers do not believe, or do not even wish, that a house should ever be built. But still, what would happen if, instead of the unborn Dauphin, people ready for action were to lay their hands on the stocks of philology? Let us ask ourselves the question: Could the specialists in literary science be among such enterprising people today? The historians of literature and the philologists supply the building materials without hoping to build, whereas the literary critics would like to build without any building materials. The authors of the first issue of New Literary History and Robert Weimann' in particular urge a merging of historical and critical work in literature. Only this can save the writing of literary history from its present crisis. When, in the nineteenth century, the German and later the French schools introduced into the study of literature methods belonging to critical philology, it was no longer possible to maintain the methodological sensitivity of artistic criticism at the level at which it had existed with Goethe and some of his contemporaries, and which had resulted in such delicate and harmonious literary procedures, quite devoid of any pedantic elements. Harry Levin notes that with Taine the analysis of a literary work degenerated to a summary of its contents.2 And since then we see even less of the original work; literature
New Literary History, I (Autumn, 1969), gI-Iog. 2 The Gates of Horn: A Study of Five French Realists (New York, 1963), p.

reproachedphilologyfor taking care of and keeping

Robert Weimann, "Past Significance and Present Meaning in Literary History,"



has become the training field of cultural and ideological history, sociology, biography, source and influence research, and various other disciplines. The positivist approach to literature of the last century which demanded the exactness of science, having discarded its historical-ideological and sociological masks, continues with a clear conscience to survive in our day and to consider its uncompleted tasks of unchanged importance. It has sent literary criticism into exile, and it accepts from literature only what can be used in its compilations. For this branch of science, literature is an object, an excuse, rather than an essential objective. Literary criticism, on the other hand, lives under the illusion that it has no use whatsoever of science, that is to say, for a consolidated system, founded on philosophical, aesthetical and historical bases. The fact that the humanities are gradually becoming more and more specialised disciplines is perhaps proved by their own doubts whether or not they are really of any use. Doubts of this nature are dangerous because they primarily discredit the doubter. Branches of science which once in the past had appealed to as broad a public as a novel or a play, today can reach the public only through works of popularisation. On the other hand, works aiming at popularising science have only made science even more isolated-by depriving it of one of its most important functions. This burden should at all times have been shouldered by science itself because who is competent to propagate knowledge better than the one who advances it? There were days once when the writing of history was an activity belonging to the sphere of literature, and it can be said that the grandiose frescoes of a Michelet on the French Revolution (like the novels of Balzac or Stendhal), have lost nothing of their colors and freshness. Today, however, history can become a science of life only after having passed through the hands of middlemen. Man must use his culture as he uses his muscles. For lack of use both degenerate. It is the function of the sciences of the arts to teach mankind how to use his culture and to provide opportunities to use it. Today, all over the world, literary science is primarily maintained in the field of education. But the use of culture cannot come to an end with school education any more than the use of our muscles can end after we have completed our gym courses. However, if literary science wishes to teach us how literature can be used in our lives, it is evident that it cannot do this without the tools and methods of literary criticism. A creation of art is something which always exists in the present. The Iliad is contemporary with us the moment it becomes present in our conscience. One of the ambitions of literary history is to bind literary works to the time of their birth by bringing back to life the age in which they were written. And yet, it is our duty to see that those works should



be a part of their own age, but should also become part of ours. The science of literature can be brought closer to literature by critics who can write with as fresh an attitude about the works of the past as they can about modern ones. The last master who really taught how and why literature should be used was Goethe. The only way perhaps to make progress is to return to him. Of course, we must not revert to the fashion and taste of Goethe analyzing the themes, structures and details of his albums of engravings. No, we must return to the type of relationship which he brought about between himself and art and nature. We must go back to a systematic and practical relationship in which the regular utilisation-consumption-of the arts and of nature was part of man's vital activities. To break away from nature is just as much a disaster for many as to break away from culture. In our age both disasters are imminent, or an already accomplished process. It is not the technical revolution which has removed us from nature and from art, but it is our inability to use these properly which has made us waste our increased opportunities on petty objectives. Goethe's need for art was an ideal one, which could never become general or widespread. But the democratisation and insertion into modem life of that ideal objective is a far more urgent task today than it ever was in his time. The Romantic Movement was still able to renew this aim and make it its own. But positivism turned modern civilisation away from this attitude of Goethe's towards art, and it has done the same for literary history. The schools of thought succeeding positivism agreed with it in not bothering much about the sources of strength inherent in literature, in not directing towards those sources those who needed it most. The obstinate cult of "Beauty" spread so fast in the age of positivism because that age was no longer able-as Goethe and a few of his contemporaries were still able-to use the arts for the good of Man by teaching him why it was worth while utilising, consuming, the products of art. And Flaubert's idolatry of "Beauty" is a far cry from Goethe's use of artistic creation. Goethe systematically returned time and again to the works of Shakespeare and of Moliere neither for the pleasure of artistic enjoyment nor primarily for beauty. Goethe found in art what he found in nature. In both he perceived the pure and effective ancillary source of human existence, that is to say, the constantly open opportunities of strength and renewal, of curing and of enlightenment, of self-search and self-purification. Art consumed in Goethe's fashion is of practical utility and is a source of concrete strength. And the utility and strengthgiving power of art should be revived today under modern conditions. I mean that it is our duty to



acquire and pass on to others the correct use of art. The truest and most noble aim of the sciences of arts, including literary science, must be to aim at such an acquisition. Can we today find a discipline that lives up to this task? Admitting the existence of a modem dilemma, do we consider literary criticism or literary history capable of complying with that obligation? The fact is that we can learn just as little from the one as from the other when it comes to the proper use of the arts, or the ability to turn them into aids in everyday life. The reason for this is that both disciplines present to us opportunities, opposed to each other and excluding each other. Only chaos can result from a situation in which two possibilities depending on each other have come to exclude each other. In this chaos, neither literary criticism nor literary history is in a position to teach the true utilisation of literature or its acquisition and use as a real support, ready to accept the message radiating from the great artistic creations of the past. It was positivism that brought literary criticism and literary history face to face in this acute manner. The breakaway occurred in a way that tore literary history from the living literary work (i.e. from literature itself) while depriving literary criticism of a historical approach to those works. Thus were born pragmatic literary history on the one hand, and impressionist literary criticism on the other. The first knew a lot about the genesis of literary works, trends, literary atmosphere and problems pertaining to ideology, the history of culture, sociology, philology, biography, etc. Whereas the second developed to a high degree the formal analyses of the works, and later breaking away from impressionism, literary criticism discovered their structures and introduced exact, in fact mathematical examinations, into the study of the arts. But neither could come forward with an answer to the questions: How should arts be used properly, how can we live with them, how can we derive practical profit from them as moral supports? What Goethe and a few of his contemporaries knew was no longer known by these modem and advanced disciplines. The use and the true message of literary products could be best achieved, if at all, by literary criticism, particularly when it was capable of writing about great books of the past with vivacity and excitement, just as if these works had been written today. The real critic is forced to discover the works, and, at the same time he can discover something about their utility, their source of strength and their vital message. Yes, but literature is not made up only of books; it is composed of trends and phenomena which can be recognized and communicated only by literary history. Some of these can be of the same value of those in the work itself. But usually both the work and its history are important.



The real significance of these can never be grasped by studies in the two separate fields. In general until the present time literary history was engaged in reconstruction work-the reconstruction of a picture of the periods, of trends and currents in a period, of the birth of literary products, the life of writers, and so on. In the course of this reconstruction, the historian of literature is not aiming at the works themselves, but is rather endeavoring to revive their time, their period. That is to say, what the literary products left behind them when through their birth they stepped out of their age, kept pace with moving time, or had already entered their after-life which was to lead them down to us. The literary historians of the Iliad reconstruct the original period of that work, i.e. its age, conditions, contemporaries, atmosphere, etc. This type of labor does not wish to re-discover the work, but is interested in finding out as many historical, social and cultural details as possible in connexion with the work. Of course it is possible through those tasks also to reach the essence of the work, but under the present conditions in these scientific branches, literary history left to itself has a long way to travel to reach that goal. Moreover, literary history has turned into a "melancholy science," just because it rarely undertakes to go so far.

In order to obtain a clear idea of the tasks of literary history the best thing we can do is to start from literature, that is to say, from the works themselves. The most essential requirement of a literary product is not that it should be reconstructed but that it should be understood. A book wants to live, beyond its author and its age-and it is through this that it is a living work-through the fact that we use it and come into contact with it again and again. The conception that literary works have an autonomous natural existence and personality of their own is exactly expressed by Georges Poulet when he says: "The work lives its own life within me; in a certain sense, it thinks itself, and it even gives itself a meaning within me."3 Witnessing the toilsome life of the writers, we feel that not only they but also their works put up a desperate fight for survival, against oblivion, indifference, the lack of recognition. The struggle of the works for their own survival is coupled with that of the critics, for the life of the works. And the works do not require to be treated as archaeological specimens that must be studied in situ. In other words, it is not neces3 Georges Poulet, "Phenomenology (Autumn, 1969), 59of Reading," New Literary History, I



sary to place them back into their originalsite, in their own past. Literary productsare viable so long as they are capableof being reborntime and again, in the new ages through which man goes. The poetic thought, that the dead die for ever when the time comes that no one thinksof them any more, appliesalso to literaryworks. Neitherliterarycriticismnor literaryhistorycan include workswhich have never seen the light of day. In spite of this, literaryhistoriansfeel that they are in duty bound to carryalong with them bookswhich have completelysunk into oblivion and which have only "literaryhistorical interest." This dead weight is an unwarrantedone, since it misleads science and preventsit from putting the arts to good use for the benefit of man. The history of literaturemust confine itself to more rebut at the same time, it mustlook for a more strictedspheresof research, distantperspective. And this still "distant"perspective underthe proper conditionsshould be the "nearest,"that is to say: the creativework itself. In otherwords, the presenttask of literaryhistoryis to find ways and means of contactingthe creativework while retainingits own historical approach and without turning into literarycriticism-and yet, still without ignoringthe lessonsand directivesof that discipline. After having coped with that problem,literaryhistorycan succeed in reverting to its own sphere-to the literarysphere-and may returnto those worksto which it is necessaryand worth while returning. By this way, literaryhistorycomes in answerto the appeal for life of great books of the past, when it becomes necessaryand worthwhile to answer that appeal. Like Lazarusin the Bible the book is waiting to be deliveredfrom its wounds and sores. A literaryproduct expects every age to discover in it, to listen to and to draw from it that part which refersto the age and which the age needs. It is necessary that every age interpret Shakespearedifferently,because his works were not written only for one age. They demand to be discoveredand re-discovered and they alin fact they requireit. It is quite possible,for low for this re-discovery; instance, for a Japanesedirectorand for Japaneseactorsto revive the in Macbeth in a mannermost true to nafeudal brutalityand dreariness ture, becausethe feudal type of man and feudal conditionssurvivefresh in theirmemory.The poetryof the ElizabethanAge, on the otherhand, strikesthe modem audience by traits which were not even noticed in own days. So that a reconstruction of the originalmeanShakespeare's ing and effect is really useful only if it adds somethingto the modem meaningand effect. Within the very nature of a work of art there exists a certain indifferencein respect of what the various ages will discover in it and
what they will pick out of it for their own use. This indifference is



akin to the indifference of nature, because both indifferences are at the same time generous and magnanimous. In a creative work of art this type of indifference is not incompatible with the desire to live, the yearning to survive. This same yearning is present everywhere in nature and it includes magnanimous, generous neutrality. Nature gives herself to every man and to every age, and the same is true of a great work. Nature-and a work is the same in this respect -permits man in the different ages to have different conceptions of her and to approach her with different requirements. And, thus, as we go down the ages, man has different ideas of nature, just as of works of art. Literary science is the science of the past and of the present at the same time. Its task is to re-discover what has already been discovered. But as this rediscovery refers to the present, it must fulfill the demands and needs of the present. In this manner, it also becomes a discovery of the present. Literary history must know and understand its own age if it wishes to show it what it needs most from other ages. But it must also clearly understand its own material, for finding the very works and historical phenomena which are able to supply the present with real use and help. Not every work, nor every literary manifestation, serves this purpose, and literary science is not a fortuitous preservation of books, but preservation based on their intrinsic merits. We must start from an aesthetic basis if we wish to avoid false dilemmas and if we want to return to the real sphere of literary science by the shortest road, after having discarded superfluous impedimenta and thrown away misunderstood respect. Anyhow it is the aesthetic view that will clear up the aim and extent of the consumption of art, that is to say, literary criticism must point to that form of literary production which we most need and which we should meet. It is for the purpose of this meeting that literary criticism builds a bridge. The discovery and utilisation of books fighting for their lives will be determined by what we ourselves are looking for in the arts, that is to say, for what reasons we turn towards culture as a whole. Hence, it is a problem of vital importance for us to decide which literary products are still alive-and, therefore, should be "re-discovered" and passed on for public consumption in our times. In a train of thought which was broadened and expressed in a separate study (Specificness, in Hungarian, 1957) as part of his great aesthetic system, Gybrgy Lukaics defines the enriching influence of art on the Ego. He describes the many-sided help given to us by an artistic product, arguing that we must conceive this current in general terms. Its essence is an elevation occurring in the receiver and similar to the elevation present in the received work of art (p. 241). Art links Man



with mankind, that is to say, mankind in the past as in the present. For instance, the modern public when submitted to the "evocative power" of Oedipus Rex or Romeo and Juliet revives its own past, that is to say, not as an individual but "the past as part of humanity" (p. 239). The expansion of our "everyday personality" and such an elevation of the Ego is the result of artistic reflection. It can therefore be said that art leads man to a recognition of "tua res agitur," thus relieving him of solitude, raising him from the particular and deepening his quality as a human being. This influence which, according to Lukacs, is the reflecting function of art (i.e. art as self-cognition in human evolution) clearly points to the task which faces literary criticism:--to concentrate its attention on products which cause or bring about such an elevation. Luk~cs developed the category of the "specific" by further broadening Goethe's concepts of symbol and of allegory. He incorporated Goethe's ideas regarding the dialectics of the "Specific" and of the "General" into his own aesthetical system based on the reflective function of the arts. Hence, we are not wrong in stressing that everything that Goethe had previously said about art as the reflection ("Abglanz") of Nature is complemented by a recognition of art as another form of nature ("andre Natur"). That is to say, according to Goethe art is not only a reflection, but it is also "another Nature." Als ich zuerst nach Rom kam, bemerckt ich bald dass ich von Kunst eigentlich gar nichts verstand und dass ich biss dahin nur den allgemeinen Abglanz der Natur in den Kunstwercken, bewundert und genossen hatte, hier that sich eine andre Natur, ein weiteres Feld der Kunst vor mir auf, ja ein Abgrund der Kunst, in den ich mit desto mehr Freude hineinschaute, als ich meinen Blick an die Abgriinde der Natur gewbhnt hatte. 4 This new discovery in no way weakens but on the contrary consolidates the principle of art as reflection and opens fresh opportunities for its use. These are opportunities which must be utilised by literary criticism in the same manner as those arising from the reflection and "tua res agitur" tenets. This thought of Goethe's becomes clearer when we remember that it was born as the fruit of his Italian journey. The concept of art as "another Nature" helped Goethe over a serious crisis, and, just as in Lukics's category of the "Specific" the essence is the evocation of elevation, here too one can recognize the "other" nature's influence as the supporting factor. Art helped Goethe to find his lost self, to return
4 Letter to Prince Carl August, Rome, January 25, 1788. August 1786-Juni 1788 in Goethes Werke (Weimar, 1887-1912), 1890o), 328. Goethes Briefe, VIII (Weimar,



to his real Ego and to continue the true road from which he had deviated-to enter into himself, to be renewed and to be healed. It is thus that the "Specific" and the "General" merged in a new relation: The individual is led through humanity back to himself. Reciprocally, this condition gives the lost Ego back to the individual, thus leading man towards humanity. It is the duty of literary criticism to bring both influences of art again and again to materialization. Because the prerequisites of that materialization, and the requirements demanded of it, can change considerably from age to age. But within those changes and changing requirements the essence of the influence of art is still elevation, an expansion of the Ego, and also the safeguarding or regeneration of the integrity of human existence, a support, a cure, a liberation. The example of Goethe's Italian journey points still to another factor: Help came to him not exclusively through art, but also through human relations, contact with nature combined with the deep effect of art on him. Those three factors brought about a condition which Goethe lived through and from which he emerged, reborn. This was a determined historical condition which could never again be brought about deliberately or artificially. But we can recognize conditions valid in our age, and indeed we can influence and remodel them. Not only do the literary products fight for the prolongation of their lives, but art itself also strives towards the regeneration of its role in a regenerating age. If, to use Lukics's words, art in the past has been waging a fight of independence, now it must fight for its place and its time. And in this struggle to reconquer space and time, aesthetics, criticism, and literary science as a whole must do their share. The tasks of literary criticism, therefore, can best be deciphered from the nature and influence of this type of art (literature). While complying with those tasks, criticism necessarily gets close to art and partakes of its nature. It is from the day that history writing denied its relations with art and that philology took full possession of the literary product on that any reference to the artistic nature of criticism makes him blush. The exact sciences of the nineteenth century consider as mockery and as an insult any insinuation that poetry might exist in philosophy. And yet it has at all times been the aspiration of great poetry to join hands with philosophy at all levels of thought and cognition. Also, consciously or subconsciously, great philosophy always stretched out its hand.

Whether dealing with great books of the present or the past, literary criticism brings aesthetic qualities to light, and by so doing, helps the



readers. What task is there left for literary history? Whereas criticism can find its tasks in the nature of the artistic works and in the influences of art, literary history can find its tasks only in literary criticism. Failing to do this, the specialist in this field will soon find himself hopelessly far removed from literature. In fact, he will exile himself from literature and become a social, ideological or arts, historian who can see only dead historical documents instead of living artistic forces. Such a condition has existed for quite a while in literary history, and will continue to exist until scientists will find themselves forced to recognize the dilemma between criticism and literary history. As we have seen, this crisis has developed ever since the age of positivism, and both disciplines by themselves end up in sterile efforts. We must put an end to the dilemma, but this is possible only if we start from the book as an artistic creation, i.e., we must give priority to critical-aesthetic considerations, and only afterwards turn to historical problems, then later, from the sphere of the problems returns to, or rather meet again, the works under study. Of course, "priority" in this sense is not priority in rank, since criticism starting from the literary product, and historical research returning to it, are both secondary seen from the point of view of the book itself. Then instead of the horns of the dilemma, we shall have a circular movement. But this movement can be initiated only if a critical analysis, apart from aesthetic considerations, is also capable of coping with the problems of literary history. By removing the literary product from isolation we can advance from literary criticism to historical problems. It is almost inevitable that we bring about a certain amount of isolation when submitting the work to a critical examination, since our attention is concentrated on one single work or on a narrow group of works which have something in common. From the moment we step out of the individual work or narrower groups of works or go beyond them, towards epochs, we begin to notice signs and phenomena of given currents. And when in particular we examine the movements of these (i.e. precedents, developments after the preparations) and see how they fit with each other and are related-from that moment on we have crossed the frontier of criticism and find ourselves within the field of literary history which surveys vast literary sectors, whole epochs and currents-in other words, the advance of literature itself. And everything that we discover in this fashion is just as much a part of the individual book as the aesthetic characteristics which have been studied by the literary critic. Historical research opens up a new aspect of the literary product, an aspect which had to remain untouched by the literary critic. And, if from the heights of this historical sphere we once again look back on the work which so far had only been analysed aesthetically, we soon



perceive that also those aesthetic traits have assumed a new significance by the mere fact of their having been studied not as individual acts of creation, but as parts of a vast, historical panorama. There is no doubt that an historical assessment of the book as an artistic creation gives a deeper and richer meaning to its aesthetic and critical evaluation. If, for instance, we study some works of the years of Goethe's cooperation with Schiller after 1794 (for example, Hermann und Dorothea) from an aesthetic point of view, we obtain a new insight into the typical characteristics of Goethe's classicism and into his specific methods of artistic creation. On the other hand, if we look at the same work in its historical connotations (i.e., in the current brought into being in the last decade of the eighteenth century by the literatures of Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and the central and east European countries), we come to the conclusion that the classical-humanist art of Goethe and Schiller was only one of the possible reactions to the French Revolution. It was a possible reaction which at the same time had counterparts--similar or different-in early German Romanticism, in Chateaubriand, in Coleridge, and in many others. One glance at a chronological table of that age will already add particular plasticity to the "Klassik" of Goethe and Schiller, when we compare it with the last phase of Burns, the active period in Blake's life, the interest in the revolution evinced by Southey and Coleridge, the works of de Sade and Restif de la Bretonne which date from the same period, the classicism of Parini and Alfieri, the republican sympathies of Friedrich Schlegel, Hblderlin's Hyperion, and the deploying movements represented by Tieck, Wackenroder, Novalis, Schelling, Jean-Paul, and so on, and so on. When studying the many-colored ends as the beginnings of these currents and within these compare Goethe with these heterogeneous phenomena, we obtain a picture quite different from the one provided only by an analysis of his individual work, cut off from everything else. This synchronic moving pattern of individual phenomena organically and logically lead us over to a diachronic (that is to say, truly historical) approach. Even more than that, our aesthetic assessment of Hermann und Dorothea will become deeper and richer when we look at it after what came before: The first part of Wilhelm Meister, Iphegenia, and Werther. It is perfectly evident that, if we were to disregard these predecessors of Hermann und Dorothea-as if not the same Goethe had written them-we would be approaching this work in a defective manner, both aesthetically and critically. For it is just as important to have an eye on what came before and after them, as to study individual events. Critical analyses are starting points from which historical examinations must proceed. Such starting points of literary criticism



make it possible for literary history to reach truly vital questions and not lose its way amidst unimportant chores. The "other" nature of art is not synonomous with immobility; on the contrary, it represents mobility, and, therefore, historicity. The critical and the historical approach can properly advance only providing they start from the work itself, from the inner world of the work. Later, disregarding the individuality of that work, we must contrast it with other works, that is to say, place it into the dialectical movement of historical currents, look at the work from the outside world-and to return to it again. This operation consisting of going from the inner world of a work to its historical "ambiance" and back to the work, demands a close cooperation between literary criticism and literary history, between aesthetics and history, which adds richness to both disciplines which receive support from each other. When we compare historicity with the artistic products and when we conduct historical research on those products, we must not forget that the historical milieu surrounding them may not have produced artistic works but have given rise to an influence far stronger than these. Literary movements, struggles and undertakings of importance are not always expressed in mature works, but may be found in debates, programmes, letters, and diaries which, in this respect, are more important. More than that, events which take place in literature (i.e. struggles for national and social objectives, fights for the improvement of the lot of peoples or classes), the seeking of ways out from historical catastrophes, the solving of crises, the desire for purification, strict selfcriticism, etc.-all these elements in literature represent moral acts and human values which frequently have no connexion with aesthetic values and which aesthetic analyses can grasp only indirectly. It is a paramount duty of the literary historian to seek these out and subject them to historical research. Of course, these moral values may also manifest themselves aesthetically, but this is not always so, and it often happens that the moral examples of the history of the arts lie outside of the literary products. The literary historian, when studying the efforts of epochs, groups and currents, may perceive moral lessons which broaden, or even enhance, those derived from an aesthetic analysis. For those moral examples show man himself in actions and in battles which did not necessarily end in literary expression. Support can be derived not only from cognition arising from art, but also straight from history itself. This means that the moral lessons and influences of culture are just as important as the helping, specific elevation derived from the arts. Cognition arising from history too elevates man, links him with humanity's sphere and thus, broadens the Ego and deepens his existence. Literary



history offers opportunitiesalso for this type of cognition, and in fact it is only strivingtowardsthis type that it can renew its real historicity. Becausethe value of historicity is not determinedby the degreeof exactnessin the methods,but by the amountof cognitionthat can be reached throughthosemethods. It frequentlyhappens-not unjustly--that historicalresearchis accused of going in circlesaround the literatureor the arts in general,in the course of which it moves far away from the essential questions. Positivismintroducedresearchesin biography,chronology,the history of the genres,philology,etc. and the ideological,educationaland sociological schools which in modern times have replaced it do not start workingfrom the innerworld of the book, nor do they wish to returnto it. On the other hand, the schools stressingthe importance of form shut themselvesup so much in that inner world that they have no idea of the utility of "moving backwards"somewhat and seeing the work in its properperspective. The "positive"parts of literaryhistory can, in respectof utility and extent, be determinedonly by the work itself, and when planning such kind of work we must "listen to" the suggestionsand advice coming from the book. Chronological questionscan sometimesbe decisive,and at others, negligible. Similarly, the length of the author's biography of the work, in which case data must be adjustedto the requirements referringto the birth, childhoodor restingplace of the writer are often quite unimportant. Nor can we any longer handle tasks connected with the study of texts and with philologywith the erroneoushumility advocatedby the positivists. The texts of by-gone epochs are not all of the same importanceand neitherhistoricalnor sociologicalinterestcan warrant tender preservationof books which are dead. Naturally, all this does not mean that the science of literatureis one that deals only with "greatworks." If that were so, even a few of Goethe'splays, some of Balzac'snovelsand a few of Tolstoy'sshortstoriescould be "left out" of literature! It is by means of tact and sensitivitythat the critics are able to decide what works possessboth aesthetic and historicalsignificance. When we speakof worldliteraturewe do not mean an anthology of beautifultexts, nor, however,do we mean a graveyardof dead books. In world literaturethere are no privilegedlanguages, nor small or big powers. Worldliteraturecannot be split up into "big" and "small" countries,becausegreat literaryproductsdo not result from economic, political, or other power relation conditions. For instance, if when studyingRomanticismor Symbolism,we were to limit ourselvesto only literaturesand if we were to neglect taking four or five west-European
into consideration specific modifications and functions of this current in central and eastern Europe, we would obtain only a fragmentary pic-



ture of the inherent qualities of those two important literary movements. Adherence to this principle is important because the more phenomena it embraces the more interesting and instructive is the historical approach. This, on the other hand, can be achieved only through the comparative method. Broad historical examinations of literature can best be done by means of broad comparative work, since without this the phenomena would appear in fragmentary form, and would point to false conclusions. The isolated treatment of a national literature often deprives one of a broader outlook in respect of broader relationships and disregards the fact that the social and cultural development of the nations assumes similar forms under similar conditions. It is true that these phenomena appear earlier at some places and later at others; that is to say that irregularities (dicalages) are evident, but these are not only deeply typical of the historical, social and cultural evolution of the different nations, but sometimes revelatory of the very essence of it. In the eighteenth century theoretical thought moved more and more away from classicism based on the imitation of antiquity replacing this by originality. This resulted within Romanticism in the assertion of national individuality. The originality of national literatures was emphasized by trying to prove that their literary manifestations were unique, were devoid of "influences" from the outside, and because of their national characteristics, they bore absolutely no relation to the literatures of other nations. This was an historical necessity for the literatures becoming bourgeois at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the only right path for them was the realization of their national originality, which became possible primarily through folk poetry. The most important phenomenon here precisely is that typically, teleologically, the bourgeois literatures at the beginning of the nineteenth century sought their national originality in the same manner, by turning towards folk poetry, where they found it. This uniformity, was also the result of the influence of certain examples (Percy's, Herder's, that of the collection of romantic folk poems, etc.), but this influence could assert itself only because this was the way in which those entering a period of bourgeois development could achieve national originality. Historians of national literatures who dealt with this situation as an isolated phenomenon failed to grasp its general, historical-type validity. They did not see the general current of which each national literature was an additional stream and an organic part. The study of national literature as an isolated unit thus is bogged down by the details and gives up real originality in the interest of "originality." The example given above proves on the one hand that an over-estimation of "influence" research is just as sterile as is a rejection of it



in the name of national originality. On the other hand, it also shows that rather than pointing out influences, it is more important to subject the various literatures to a comparative, or more precisely, a confronting examination and to draw general conclusions from it. One of the lessons we can learn is that it was always the more original geniuses who were open to outside influences and inspirationwhich did not hinder but fostered originality. From Goethe's opinions and methods it is evident that he did not consider it a blemish on originality to take over solutions which others had proved to be good ones. Literary influences go hand in hand with assimilation. For instance, Byron's influence in Hungary gave rise to a plebeian poetry, that is to say, the inspiration existing in the "influence" gave rise to results not typical of the original. When we examine only those elements which came into being as a result of "influences" we will see that here too the writers taking them over will assimilate them by changing their form and direction in accordance with their own requirements and situation. The "influence" of German Romanticism brought about different results in French, or in Polish literatures. The advocates of independent, national literature devoid of foreign elements are willing only to note phenomena which they consider autochthonous, when in fact they are only analogous. The historians of the French Romantic Movement, for example, for a time were not willing to notice the influence of German and English inspirationthus making it impossible to see in what an original manner the French had assimilated foreign romantic examples and had applied them to their own purpose. The disregard of the dialectics of influence and assimilation also prevented them from perceiving the deeper reasons in their national literary or social evolution which had necessitated this influence. Accepting an influence implies selection; faced with various types and forms of inspiration, authors borrow those which they need. Grasping the reason for this selection leads us to an understanding of the particularities of literary evolution. There was a time when the comparative method limited itself to discovering influences. If we wish to use comparison for a broader understanding of literary historicity, we must encourage confrontations so as to discover analogies or parallel divergencies in the various national literatures or in a given period of world literature. This combination of comparison and confrontation also contains possibilities for the regeneration of the historical method. This would demand in the future that we should study national literatures not as unique, isolated phenomena, but in combination with other literatures from which examples and inspiration have been borrowed and which have certain similarities in their process of development.



The literary analogies or parallels always come into being as the result of analogous or parallel historical and social development. This parallelism, it is true, is often hidden beneath irregularities and variations, but it is present. The typological method worked out by V. M. Shirmunsky helps to bring to light the parallel literary phenomena which arise from the parallelism of historical and social factors. Similar artistic types and trends appear under similar historical and social conditions. Recognizing the truth of this axiom, the typological method makes it possible by means of analogies to spread out to broader areas and to penetrate into conditions existing in less well-known literatures. The discovery of typological parallelisms brings the different literatures closer to each other, eliminates their seeming isolation and shows that they all are parts of the same movement. The circle of similar phenomena-types can truly be considered as typical and realistic when they are strengthened by the similarity of the general currents and movements. Typology cannot content itself with a static picture, and it considers the current-types more important than the phenomenatypes. That is to say, real typological relationship does not mean, for example, that similar genres arise in literatures under the influence of folk poetry, but that literatures in which national and bourgeois poetry develops turn towards folk poetry and that some of these literatures carry on further in the same manner the elements which have been drawn from this poetry. If the arts can be considered "another" nature, then too they must be considered as "another" history. The help which comes from nature and from history can be found together in the arts. We need both types of help if we wish to preserve the essence of humanity and if we wish to possess nature as well as history. Literary criticism and literary history can combine their tasks and complement each other if they are directed toward the acquisition of both types of support. This is the only method by which the details will dissolve in the whole, and together with the details, the whole will become a science not "in usum Delphinorum" but "in usum Hominum."

(Translated by Rene Bonnerjea)