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New Criticism Essay Intro This paper examines the life and work of Cleanth Brooks (190 !199"#$ Brooks was one of the main exponents of %ew Criti&ism' a loosel( affiliated s&hool of )meri&an literar( &riti&ism that flo*rished in )meri&an *ni+ersities ,etween 1930s and 1950s' ,efore fallin- o*t fashion in the 19.0s and 1980s$ /s&hewin- the histori&al and ,io-raphi&al approa&hes to literar( st*dies that dominated /n-lish departments at the t*rn of the 20th &ent*r(' %ew Criti&s fo&*sed almost ex&l*si+el( on poeti&s$ 0or Brooks and his &ollea-*es' a poem was not a histori&al do&*ment or a re&ord of its a*thor1s li+ed experien&es' ,*t a self!&ontained' unified, aestheti& o,2e&t that &o*ld ,e read and *nderstood on its own terms$ Thro*-h his hi-hl( pop*lar &olle-e text,ooks' essa(s' and exemplar( readin-s Brooks ad+an&ed an intense' text*all(!oriented 3&lose readin-1 of 4the str*&t*re of the thin- &omposed5 (40ormalist Criti&s5 ."#$ 6n this respe&t' %ew Criti&ism was part of a ,roader thr*st towards formalism in the st*d( of literat*re in the first half of the 20th &ent*r($ 6ndeed' in its emphasis on the 3text'1 the insepara,ilit( of form and &ontent' and literat*re as a distin&t dis&ipline %ew Criti&ism shares man( similarities with other &ontemporaneo*s mo+ements' s*&h as the 7tr*&t*ralist/7emioti& Nouvelle Critique of 0ran&e, and 8*ssian 0ormalism$ 9owe+er' while these other mo+ements &ontin*e to ,e theoreti&all( infl*ential' or at least re-arded as fo*ndational for &ontemporar( theor(' %ew Criti&ism as a theor( is dead' e+en as its -eneral methodolo-ies ha+e ,e&ome the norm$ Be&a*se Brooks was for man( the spokesperson of %ew Criti&ism and ,e&a*se he remained a&ti+e well past the rise of 3Theor(1 that displa&ed %ew Criti&ism in )meri&an instit*tions' his &areer offers a -reat tra2e&tor( thro*-h whi&h to tra&e the e+ol*tion of %ew Criti&ism from a modernist +an-*ard in the 1930s to an orthodox rear-*ard in the 19.0s$ Th*s' fo&*sin- primaril( on Brooks1 writin-s as a -eneral stand!in for %ew Criti&ism as a whole' this paper *ndertakes a &omparati+e e+al*ation of %ew Criti&ism' readin- it a-ainst &on&*rrent de+elopments in 8*ssia and 0ran&e$ 6n tr*e poststr*&t*ralist fashion' one ma( ,e tempted to o+ert*rn the o+ert*rnin- of %ew Criti&ism and pro&laim it as a radi&al position poi-nantl( s*ited for o*r own radi&al times$ This will not ,e the &ase$ 6nstead' what follows is a stern reminder that sometimes o*r parents are ri-ht' and that dead sho*ld ,e left dead$
5' 2*st as the 0ren&h 3in+asion1 of the )meri&an a&adem( was rea&hin.of' the same indifferen&e to' or aloofness from' the lar-er iss*es &hara&teriGes Brooks1 &riti&ism$ 8eadin.arren' and *ninterestin.e&a*se' as 6 hope to demonstrate' the same .ama!Ceor-ia Biale&t to the Dro+in&ial Biale&ts of Creat Britain5 (1935#' and his last mono-raph' in 1985' was on the lan-*a-e of the )meri&an 7o*th$ 6ndeed' his 3&riti&al1 work represents onl( a fra&tion of his o*tp*tH and in &ertain &ir&les' he is known more as a 0a*lkner s&holar than a 3%ew Criti&$1 2 .from the lowl( *r&hin to the :e+iathan emperor.Brooks' as we shortl( will' one sense a man who is not onl( estran-ed from his world' .ra&ketin.looded' .io-raph( re&ords little en-a-ement with the world e+ents aro*nd him$ The wars' ra&ial tensions' st*dent *prisin-s' the Fomen1s mo+ement.in 19.' he transferred to Aale @ni+ersit(' the f*t*re site of 3hereti&al1 Be&onstr*&tionists' where he held the presti-io*s position of Cra( Drofessor of 8hetori& (the title 4Cra( Drofessor5 is E*ite apt' as we shall see# .orn on <&to.tho*-h like few of his time.ilt @ni+ersit( in 1928$ The same (ear he also re&ei+ed an =) from T*lane @ni+ersit( and &ontin*ed his st*dies at <xford @ni+ersities as a 8hode 7&holar$ )fter <xford' he ta*-ht at :o*isiana 7tate @ni+ersit( from 1932 till 19".a tr*l( 4-re( professor$5 <f &o*rse' *ltimatel(' e+er( man.e&a*se it was$ Brooks1 .*t who is' frankl(' worldless.eral ed*&ation at a =&T(ere 7&hool' a pri+ate a&adem(' and -rad*ated from ?ander.&onne&tion to the 7o*th$ 9is <xford dissertation &ompared the relationship of 4The 8elation of the )la.*t .er 1 ' 190 in =*rra(' >ent*&k( into a well!to!do t(pi&al reli-io*s 7o*thern famil($ 9e was named after his father' a =ethodist =inister' 8e+erend Cleanth Brooks 7r' was one of three &hildren' re&ei+ed a &lassi&al' li.$ 6n 19".e&a*se 6 want to .is of a world' howe+er small' .that world mi-ht .$ 6f the a.all these pass in front of Brook1s e(es as' *ltimatel(' extrinsi& to the solitar( p*rs*it of the 6+or( s&holar$ 6 stress this not .e$ Brooks1 world' in whi&h he li+ed thro*-ho*t his life' e+en if he at times resided in Aankee &o*nt(' was the )meri&an 7o*th$ Bespite his mi-rations' Brooks maintained a lifelon.o+e sket&h so*nds rather *ne+entf*l' it is .its &limax$ )fter retirin-' he &ontin*ed to tea&h' write sporadi&all(' -i+e spee&hes' and &olle&t awards and honorar( de-rees from se&ond!tier *ni+ersities$ 9e died in 199"$ 9e was 8.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 Biography :ike most a&ademi&s.Cleanth Brooks li+ed a d*ll and lonlife$ 9e was .e &old! .efore retirin.
Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 %ew Criti&ism was itself' initiall(' a distin&tl( 7o*thern affair$ /arl( pra&titioners' s*&h as 6$)$ 8i&hards' Iohn Crowe 8ansom' and )llen Tate' ta*-ht at 7o*thern *ni+ersities' in&l*dinBrooks1 ?ander.pro+es *nfort*natel( tr*e: (o* &an take the .efriended the 7o*thern )-rarians and the 0*-iti+es' two inter&onne&ted -ro*ps of poets and &riti&s that ad+o&ated a ret*rn to simpler' r*ral a-rarian lifest(le and a &lose st*d( of poeti& str*&t*res (Bhardwa2 5#1$ B( his own a&&o*nt' Brooks read the 7o*thern )-rarians1 manifesto' I’ll Ta e !y Stand (1930#' 4o+er and o+er5 (Etd$ in :eit&h 1350#$ Brooks maintained that he ne+er adopted the )-rarians1 &onser+atism' that he was drawn to their poeti& sensi.e no exa--eration to sa( that the %ew Criti&ism was' in an important sense' onl( a re+ised edition of KtheseL 0*-iti+e dis&*ssions at ?ander.*t (o* &an1t take the &o*ntr( o*t of the .Brooks o&&asionall( attended: The method adopted at the meetin-s was that a mem.ilt5 (5#$ 3 .io-raphi&al or &ir&*mstantial details pertainin.ilt he also .to &omposition of the poem or to its so&ial or histori&al .ilities and their sear&h for the 4-ood life5 (Etd$ in :eti&h 1350#$ 9owe+er' it is pre&isel( this -enteel 7o*thern &onser+atism' this adheren&e to tradition' to essentialist h*manist +al*es that is persistentl( present in Brooks1 writin-s' like a .o($ 1 Bhardwa2 offers a +i+id a&&o*nt of the 0*-iti+es1 weekl( 7*nda( meetin-s' whi&h the (o*n.of 6$)$ 8i&hards 192" Principles of Literary Criticism' in <xford' sealed his &on+ersion from &on+entional literar( historian to a modernist literar( aestheti&ian (Bhardwa2 "' #$ 6n ?ander.areJ$ 6n this wa(' it was a pro&ess of intensi+e &riti&ism in whi&h the &lose anal(sis of the text .er wo*ld read his poems$ )ll the other wo*ld listen to it &aref*ll($ Then a period of silen&e followed$ 6n this silen&ed the( r*minated what the( had listened to' finall( &ame the r*thless dis&*ssion$ The poem was +iewed from e+er( possi.a&k-ro*nd$ <n the other hand the( &on&entrated on the form' the str*&t*re' the te&hniE*e' the metre' the +ersifi&ation and the rh(me s&heme of a -i+en poem$ Droper attention was also paid to the poem1s text*re whi&h &omprised di&tion' phraseolo-(' metaphors' ima-es' denotations and &onnotations$ %o sla&kness in these items was &ondoned$ (5H note: /n-lish is not Bhardwa2 nati+e lan-*a-e# )s Bhardwa2 2*di&io*sl( o.o( o*t of the &o*ntr(' .ilt @ni+ersit( that Brooks was first exposed to an intrinsi& approa&h to literar( anal(sis thro*-h his st*dies with Iohn Crowe 8ansomH and the readin.ad a&&ent that 2*st won1t -o awa($ Fith Brooks' the old sa(in.of the poems made no referen&e to the .e&ame an important tool in the e+al*ation of the poemJ$6n addition to this' the dis&*ssions that followed the readin.le an-le$ 6t was anal(sed thread.ilt' and disseminated their ideas thro*-h 7o*thern periodi&als' s*&h as the Southern Review that Brooks helped form (:eit&h#$ 6t was at ?ander.ser+es' 46t wo*ld .
nor on the editorsM warm p*lsin.of a ni-htin-ale one e+enin.io-raphi&al and histori&al .riefl(' as 4the or-aniGation of the material (rh(thm' ima-er(' idea' et&# for the &reation of the total effe&t5 ("nderstandin# Poetry 55"#$ B( emphasiGin.positi+ist pres*mption that poetr(' indeed 4 .( emphati&all( shiftin.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 The Beginning: Understanding Poetry Brooks1 earliest &riti&al work steamed dire&tl( from his peda-o-i&al experien&es$ 6n 1932' fresh o*t of <xford' he 2oined the Bepartment of /n-lish at :o*isiana 7tate @ni+ersit( (Bhardwa2 .poetr($ 8eleased in 1938' "nderstandin# Poetry esta.ook on' as the title made &lear' *nderstandin.#$ There he realiGed that 4st*dents' man( of whom had -ood minds' some ima-ination' and a -ood deal of li+ed experien&e' had +er( little knowled-e of how to read a stor( or a pla(' and e+en less knowled-e of how to read a poem5 (4%ew Criti&ism5 593#$ %or were the text.the fo&*s onto poeti& form' defined' .or into poetr( -enerall($ The dollop of impressionisti& &riti&ism with whi&h the &ommentar( *s*all( &on&l*ded &ertainl( did not s*ppl( the need$ The editor s final remarks on the poem were +a-*e' flower(' and emoti+e$ The onl( person who &o*ld make m*&h sense of these remarks had to .0s' had somethin.o*t the poetMs life and the &ir&*mstan&es of his &omposition of the poem *nder st*d($ =ention was made of >eatsMs ha+inlistened to the son.on .the then pre+ailin.o*t the poem or stor(5 (4%ew Criti&ism5 593#$ 8ather' it drew attention to the 4pro&ess of literar( prod*&tion5 (Ian&o+i&h 85# .ooks' Brooks re&alled in the late 19.a&k-ro*nd.lished man( of the prin&iples and pra&ti&es that &ame to define %ew Criti&ism and Brooks1 work in parti&*lar$ @nlike most other .e&ome reasona.ooks instr*&tors relied on of an( .feelin-s a.form' Brooks and Farren were re2e&tin.to sa( a.l( well a&E*ainted with it$ (4%ew Criti&ism5 593# 9opin.ert Denn Farren' to write a &olle-e text.ooks on the market' it was not' in Brooks1 words' 4lon.e a person who was alread( a.le to read the poem and who had .ilt &lassmate and fellow :7@ professor' 8o.as he sat in the -arden of his residen&e in 9ampstead$ B*t the t(pi&al &ommentar( did not pro+ide an ind*&tion to this poem.to remed( this intelle&t*al defi&ien&(' Brooks teamed *p with his former ?ander.etter$ 4The a*thors5 of these text.
( 4apprehendin.ein-s and the form of a poem is an indi+id*al1s attempt to deal with a spe&ifi& pro.le the elements of poetr(.in the drama of the poem'5 onl( .e &al&*lated' E*antified' distilled into a form*laH it &annot .( fore-ro*ndin..a*thors ar-*ed' is not a s&ientifi& dis&o*rse$ Tho*-h .the form of the poem5 do we -ain a&&ess to this 4spe&ial knowled-e that poetr( (ields5 ("nderstandin# Poetry xiii#$ 6n short' 40orm is meanin-'5 as Brooks will reiterate some ten (ears later (40ormalists5 .oth represent %a speciali&ation of lan#ua#e for the purpose of precision.2#$ =ethodolo-i&all(' this translates into a 4&aref*l5 o.le ideals' and that its artisti& +al*e is meas*red .elief that poetr( speaks 4of some hi-h tr*th'5 (i$e$ 4a .elie+e that the st*d( of poetr( sho*ld .Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 all artisti& texts' expresses &lear' demonstra.le readers ("P xi+#$ 46n thinkin.*t in terms of h*man p*rposes and +al*es5 ("P xiii#$ 7*&h knowled-e &annot .ser+e as &aref*ll( as possi.form Brooks and Farren were not ne&essaril( disa+owin.tle' impa&t of the poem as a whole'5 4onl( .5 the former' *nlike the latter' does not &on&ern itself with informational' dis&rete' E*antifia.that the whole is -reater than' and different from' the parts$ ("nderstandin# Poetry xi+#$ )s Ian&o+i&h points o*t' .matters that relate to its &ontext: 1$ Doems are written .the h*man e+ents' the ima-es' the rh(thms' the statementsH and then that he sho*ld s*rrender as f*ll( as possi.io-raphi&al or histori&al dimensions (Ian&o+i&h 83#$ 40orm' of &o*rse' does not exist in a +a&**m'5 the a*thors reminded their impressiona.( h*man .e ind*&ti+e and &on&rete$ Fe .of form we sho*ld keep in mind the followin.ser+ation' or &lose readin-' of the 4elements of poetr(5: Be&a*se the spe&ial knowled-e that poetr( -i+es rea&hes *s onl( thro*-h form' we .ea*tif*l statement of some hi-h tr*th5#' that it is a kind of repositor( of -reat' no.le' effe&ti+el( o.lem' poeti& and personal$ 2$ Doems &ome o*t of a histori&al period' and sin&e the( are written in lan-*a-e' the form is tied to a whole &*lt*ral &ontext5 ("P xi+#$ 6n pra&ti&e' tho*-h' 5 .( its tr*thN&ontent ("P 1"H Ian&o+i&h 83#$ Doeti& dis&o*rse' the (o*n.( s*.le 4messa-e5 $@D xiii#$ )lso re2e&ted was the &orrelated .e -lossed or 4paraphrased'5 as Brooks will later sa($ <nl( .2e&ti+e knowled-e ("P xiiiH emphasis in ori-inal#$ Doetr( is &on&erned with 4experiential knowled-e5 ("P xiii#$ 46t is a knowled-e of o*rsel+es in relation to the world of experien&e' and to that world &onsidered' not statisti&all(' .le statements' that is has a dis&erna.( parti&ipatin.elie+e that one sho*ld o.o*rsel+es 4to the massi+e' and s*.le to the impa&t of the whole' re&o-niGin.mittin.
ea*tif*l.orn and in whi&h it1s read$2 )t .ilit(' tho*-h' is not a &on&ept Brooks &an tolerateH and' as we +ent*re f*rther' we1ll see that he does e+er(thin.e di+ested of all externalit($ 46n &omin.io-raphi&al' the &*lt*ral is a mere formalit($ 7t*dents of "nderstandin# Poetry know that s*&h matters are mentioned.0s' defensi+el(' a-ainst his fellow Aale &ollea-*e I$9$ =iller1s poststr*&t*ralist inter2e&tion' or 4free asso&iation5 in Brooks1 dismissi+e words' of 9eide--er into Fordsworth' Fordsworth &an ne+er .of the so&io!histori&al' in s*.le' and in whi&h 4form and &ontent &annot ..seE*ent writin-s it will .e&a*se 9eide--er &omes after Fordsworth (4%ew Criti&ism5 01! 0"#$ 6n short' "nderstandin# Poetry promoted an a+owedl( formal st*d( of poetr(' of 4poetr( as poetr(5 (7<@8C/O# That is' as a self!&ontained' harmonio*sl( or-aniGed and *nified work' in whi&h all parts 4ha+e an or-ani& relation to ea&h other5 (46ron(5 232# &onstit*tin.riefl(' as a E*i&k aside' perhaps to s*.e 39eide--erian1 .(some mi-ht sa( de+ol+in-H in an( &ase' it is &han-in-#$ =o.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 this e+o&ation of the histori&al' the .show on inspe&tion that the( are 4poeti&5 .ilit( (i$e$ tho*-h the imposition of the stati&' *ni+ersal' timeless' ne*tered 3ideal reader1#$ 6 .e separated5 (Brooks 40ormalist Criti&s5 .for the +ar(in.or &ontradi&tor(' worlds that are in &onstant fl*x$ 9istori&al *nderstandin.e&a*se of their relation to a parti&*lar &ontext$5 (46ron(5 232H emphasis in ori-inal#$ 6n other words' in speakin.l(' sin-*lar ensem.th &ent*r(1s poet1s 3-a(ness'1 we do not -i--le' .he &an to halt poeti& mo.of intratext*al &ontext' of the spatial and lo-i&al interrelations of poeti& elements with one and another' not of the extratext*al &ontext' of the world in whi&h the text is .if mentioned at all.e+en those whi&h seem to themsel+es intrinsi&all( .an indi+isi.2#$ 2 These' of &o*rse' mi-ht .le +erse in poetr(.of the poem1s ori-ins' it1s nati+e time and pla&e' ma( &han-e o+er timeH and of &o*rse the reader1s world and the world of readers is &onstantl( e+ol+in.to see a-ain that the parts of a poem are or-ani&all( related'5 Brooks will write in a 19"8 arti&le' 4we ha+e &ome to see the importan&e of conte't$ The memora.l*sh' or &ross o*rsel+es$ 7imilarl(' as Brooks will maintain' in the late 19.est' .esides a&&o*ntin.of 4&ontext'5 Brooks is speakin.stantiate a point alread( pro+ed thro*-h an intrinsi& in+esti-ation of the text itself$ 6ndeed' if in these pa-es 4&ontext5 still has a rin.e two different' e+en opposin.positions and repositions of a spe&ifi& word' ima-e or rh(me' &ontext f*n&tions as a preempti+e &ensorship a-ainst ana&hronisti& readin-s$ Fe reE*ire a histori&al di&tionar( at o*r side so that' for example' when we read of a 1.
son' who emi-rated to Dra-*e in 1920 and ser+ed as a 4li+in.a*m 10.ran&h of knowled-e or 4s&ien&e$5 Both insisted on a 4spe&ifi& pe&*liarities of +er.( the 7talinist re-ime.oth re2e&ted the histori&isms and ps(&holo-isms of &ontemporar( a&ademi& s&holarship' as well as the impressionisti& &riti&isms of literar( 2o*rnalists$ Both loathed the 4irresponsi.8oman Iako.( the =os&ow!Tart* s&hool of semioti&s' its theories &ontin*ed to spread and de+elop a&ross /*rope' d*e in lar-e part to 8oman Iako.' 131' 12.son1s word for what his fellow 8*ssian 0ormalists in+esti-ated$ 9owe+er' tho*-h .octrine.( then a professor of Comparati+e :iterat*re at Aale' and knew Brooks personall(' later defendin.(now :enin-rad# &enters dissol+ed' as m*&h from internal disp*tes as from external politi&al press*res$ 0ormer pra&titioners.or *ninterested in.2 The Prison+*ouse of Lan#ua#e.oth the =os&ow and 7t$Deters.etween 191 and 1930$ >e( mem.the Dra-*e :an-*a-e Cir&le in 1929 (=ar-olin#$ Iako.es as 4the first f*ll! fled-ed st*d( Kof 8*ssian 0ormalismL to appear in the @nited 7tates5 (2.etween 0ormalism and CGe&h 7tr*&t*ralism' f*ndin.0ren&h str*&t*ralists and poststr*&t*ralist (i$e$ the Tel -uel &ohort#$ 6n the @nited 7tates' a&&o*nts of 8*ssian 0ormalism appeared as earl( as the late 19"0s (/rli&h 2.were for&ed to -o into a kind of internal exile' m*tin-' if not downri-ht disa+owin-' their formalist pra&ti&es$ Tho*-h in the 7o+iet @nion 0ormalism went into an intelle&t*al hi.ernation *ntil its reawakenin.those not alread( killed .a*m' ?iktor 7hklo+skii' Boris Tomashe+skii' I*rii T(niano+' and 8oman Iako.in the late 19 0s .#$ 7*&h is Iano+it&h1s per&eption when he writes that "nderstandin# Poetry so*-ht to 4train the st*dents to *nderstand the formal aspe&ts of literar( texts' or 3literariness15 (8 #' appropriatin.3#$ Fellek' a st*dent of CGe&h 7tr*&t*ralism' was .rid-e5 .of +ario*s dis&iplines and their pro.*r-' .him and the %ew Criti&s in the polemi&al wars of the 19 0s and 3.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 [Early comparison between Rus orm and NC! Brooks1 and Farren1s 3the medi*m is the messa-e1 attit*de appears to ali-n the %ew Criti&s with the 8*ssian 0ormalists' who *ndertook a similarl( formal st*d( of literat*re' some 20 (ears earlier$3 )fter all' .oth *nderstood 4poeti& formJas the -en*ine &ontent of poeti& spee&h$5 (/i&hen.2#$ =ost si-nifi&ant of these was the one in 8enQ Fellek1s and )*stin Farren1s Theory of Literature (19"9#' whi&h /rli&h des&ri.le mixin.e-an appearin.octrine (1955#' and the TG+etan Todoro+ edited Theorie de la literature) Te'ts des formalists russes (19 5#' stron-l( infl*en&in.0s (see his 4The %ew Criti&ism: Dro and Contra5 in Critical Inquiry "#H and /rli&h himself ta*-ht at Aale1s 7la+i& Bepartment from 19 1$ %e+ertheless' s*&h serendipito*s interse&tions of histories and indi+id*als seemed to ha+e no effe&t on Brooks' who remained *naware of.lems'5 ad+o&atinliterat*re as a distin&t .son1s friendship with Cla*de :Q+i!7tra*ss in the 19"0s f*rther extended the 0ormalists1 methods (Fa*-h#$ B( the end of the 1950s and 3 0s' seminal translations of ke( 0ormalist texts and &riti&al o+er+iews of their oeuvre .at =os&ow :in-*isti& Cir&le and <D<A)P (the 7o&iet( for the 7t*d( of Doeti& :an-*a-e# in 7t$Deters.l( ?i&tor /rli&h1s Russian (ormalism) *istory+ .son$ B( 1930' .*r.0ren&h poststr*&t*ralism of the late 19 0s' see Iameson1s 19.al art'5 and .in /n-lish and 0ren&h' most nota.oth stressed 4the formal aspe&ts of literar( texts'5 the two held f*ndamentall( different opinions on what &onstit*ted the 4literar($5 The %ew Criti&s were sta*n&hl( onl( interested in' and &onsidered worth( of their s&r*p*lo*s attention' the medi*m or 3 The 48*ssian 0ormalists5 were an inter&onne&ted -ro*p of literar( s&holars' lin-*isti&s' and writers workin. part 66 and 666$ 7 . 0or a more &ontemporar( theoreti&al e+al*ation of 0ormalism and its relationship to emer-in.8*ssian 0ormalism$ 0or a thro*-h histor( of the rise and fall of 8*ssian 0ormalism' see /rli&h1s Russian (ormalism) *istory+..ers in&l*ded Boris /iken.
2e&tions &ame from within the *ni+ersit( itself' and from so&ial &ommentators or 3p*.2e&t of the s&ien&e of literat*re is not literat*re' .to a&&o*nt for art1s so&iohistori&al &onditions' a m*st for an( =arxist$ 8 .*t what the s*.etween :iterat*re as a &orp*s of 3Creat Forks1 to .son 4:in-*isti&s and Doeti&s5 12 "#$ 7o while the two -ro*ps shared &ertain prin&iples and &riti&isms' the( p*rs*ed profo*ndl( different -oals: one' the esta.e emer-e$ This is the &r*&ial distin&tion.e expli&ated' and literat*re as a set of formal properties to .*t' as Iako.literar( st*dies st*d( literat*re..that Iano+it&h1s li.son1s term -losses o+er$ 0or Ioko.*t &hastised them for failin.of &o*rse of ?ladimir Dropp1s The !orpholo#y of the (ol Tale (1928#$ 0or a s*mmar( of the work and its position within the e+ol*tion of 8*ssian 0ormalism' see Iameson1s The Prison+*ouse of Lan#ua#e "! 9$ 5 6n /i&hen.eral *sa-e of Ioko.its phonolo-i&al intri&a&ies to those of >eats1 sonnets (4:in-*isti&s and Doeti&s5 12 "#$ )n( self!respe&tin.poeti&all($ 4 6 am thinkin.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 3literariness1 of &anoni&al 39i-h :iterat*re1 (or the no less hi-h.reakin.that is' that which ma es a #iven wor a wor of literature5 (Etd$ in /i&hen.in Brooks1 instit*tional ri+al' 9ar+ard' famo*sl( asserted the poeti&ism or 3literariness1 of /isenhower1s presidential &ai-n slo-an' 46 like 6ke'5 &omparin.li& intelle&t*als'1 s*&h as )lfred >aGin$ Fith the 0ormalists' it also &ame dire&tl( from top -o+ernment offi&ials' most famo*sl( from :eon Trotsk(' at the time the DeopleMs Commissar for =ilitar( and %a+al )ffairs of the 7o+iet @nion' who de+oted an entire &hapter to the 40ormalist 7&hool5 in his 192" Literature and Revolution' in whi&h he praised the 0ormalists for their te&hni&al pre&ision .*t literariness.work on the 8*ssian folktale or skaG'" drew attention to the 3literariness1 of e+er(thin-' where+er and howe+er it ma( .H emphasis added#$ 7o if the &entral E*estion for %ew Criti&ism was 4how to properl( read and interpret :iterat*reO5' for the 0ormalists was is 49ow does somethin.*t how to st*d( it$ <f &o*rse' despite the a.lishment of a literar( dis&iplineH the other' the epistemolo-i&al reexamination and expansion of the notion of 3literat*re1 itself$ <r to phrase it somewhat differentl(: The %ew Criti&s &on&entrated on readinpoetr(' the 8*ssian 0ormalists on readin..e lo&ated/ex&a+ated.%ew Criti& wo*ld &onsider s*&h a -est*re trite or -immi&k(' .&anoni&al#$ )s Brooks reminded his readers in 19.a*m1s words: 46n prin&iple the E*estion for the 0ormalist is not how to st*d( literat*re' .( >eats is patentl( more &ompli&ated and ri&her than a n*rser( rh(me (4The %ew Criti&ism5 D)C/O#$ Fhereas the 8*ssian 0ormalists' who st*died n*rser( rh(mes with the same ri-or and sophisti&ation as a D*shkian epi-ram and prod*&ed -ro*nd.( then an internationall( renowned s&holar workin.son reminds his a*dien&es' the 4st*d( of poeti& f*n&tion m*st o+erstep the limits of poetr(5 (Iako.2e&t matter of literar( st*dies a&t*all( is5 (102#$ Fith Brooks the iss*e was ne+er what to st*d(.oth the %ew Criti&s and the 0ormalists was that the( were i-norin.e&omin.row modernist literat*re' whi&h was E*i&kl( .a*m1s own pra-mati& essa( details$ 6 The &hief &riti&ism le+eled on .son' .o+e statement' 0ormalists' too' addressed the E*estion of 4how to st*d( literat*re'5 whi&h /i&hen.e&ome literat*reO55 Th*s in the mid!1950s' Iako.a*m 10.9' an ode ..art1s so&ial dimensions$ Fith %ew Criti&ism' these o.son1s 3literariness1 line f*ll( reads: 4The o.
of poeti& lan-*a-e as .all the while de&larin.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 This preliminar( &omparison of the %ew Criti&s to the 8*ssian 0ormalists' whi&h we will f*rther de+elop in o*r dis&*ssion of Brooksian paradox' fore-ro*nds a &riti&al tension within %ew Criti&ism: the do*.orders' of standards' of &lear distin&tions/delineations .on poetr(1s h*m.and earl( in his &areer' Brooks &an .etween the harmonio*sl( ordered poeti& domain and the *nr*l( world.*t in their ori-inal use5 (112#' and ori-inall( &an .e-ins to .s*&h as' 4meter' rh(thm' fi-*rati+e lan-*a-e' idea'5 all of whi&h' Brooks and Farren wo*ld readil( admit' ma( .lan&es5 .e &hallen-ed' and the world aro*nd him -rows in&reasin-l( alien' Brooks will . Aet as he -rows older' as %ew Criti&ism1s position ./' and &a*tion the 4person not well a&E*ainted with poetr(5 not 4to o.or-ani& like a plant5 ("P 1 #' and tho*-h a plant is .4p*t to-ether to make a poem as .e fo*nd in plain spee&h.etween the poeti& and what the( &all the 4pra&ti&al lan-*a-e5 .s&*re the f*ndamental resem.*t the de+i&es themsel+es are alwa(s a+aila.e&a*se for them the distin&tion is primaril( f*n&tional$ Doeti& spee&h' moti+ated .e .etween insistin.a*m stresses' 4&onsists not in the 3parts1 whi&h enter it .*tes to the 0ormalist method1s elasti&it( and most distin-*ishes it from %ew Criti&ism (111 n18#$ 9 .oth ordinar( and extraordinar($ <n the one hand' the %ew Criti&s' like the 0ormalists' &onsider poeti& spee&h merel( an extension or 4spe&ialiGation of ordinar( spee&h5 ("P .etween the two ("P 1#$ <n the other hand' poetr( &annot .etween the prosai& and the poeti&$4K)L poemJKisL somethin.seE*ent &hapters ("P #.raGenl( pro&laim' in these earl( pa-es of %ew Criti&ism' that4Kpoetr(L appears also in editorials' sermons' politi&al spee&hes' ad+ertisements' and ma-aGine arti&les.lossom/strike an(where' e+en in presidential &ai-n slo-ans$ Con+ersel(' the %ew Criti&s are st*&k .ilit(' its essential' 3-eneti&1 s*periorit( (to speak of 4or-ani&KsL5 is to speak of or-anisms#$ 7till (o*n. 4)rt1s *niE*eness'5 /i&hen.e+en if it is *s*all( not re&o-niGed as poetr('5 or st*died in the s*.le ori-ins/roots' its extra&tion from the min*tia of the earthl(' and on its no.le &odin.le to' and e+en present' in .orn o*t of a pile of dirt it is' &ate-ori&all(' not a pile of dirt$ The 0ormalists are a.( an aestheti& rather than &omm*ni&ati+e f*n&tion' or-aniGes 4&ompositional de+i&es5 differentl( from pra&ti&al spee&h' .roken down to a series of lin-*isti& elements.lish an( one elementJas the one essential of poetr( 4that most &ontri.ser+ed' it is this 4ref*sal to esta.ri&ks are p*t to-ether to make a wall5 ("P 1 #$ There is an intrinsi& distin&tion .e far more pr*dent$ 9e will de&r( the ne&essit(' the +er( indispensa.le to mo+e freel( .ilit(' of .oth dis&o*rses' and none are more 3poeti&1 than others$.poetr(1s *ni+ersalit($ 6n this respe&t' "nderstandin# Poetry is a transitional text$ Fhile it la(s the 7 )s the editors of Russian (ormalist Criticism o.
le to o+erstate the impa&t of these two .ooks were' perhaps more than an(thin.efore the %ew Criti&s were -enerall( &onsidered an e&le&ti& .raGed .Cermani& and Calli& tri.ooks /normo*sl( s*&&essf*l (e+ent*all( makin.le for the instit*tionaliGation of %ew Criti&ism (Ion&o+it&h 88#$ 6ndeed' it is impossi. ima-ine$ B*t like the 8ome' Brooks1 &riti&al empire wo*ld first expand to all the &orners of the a&ademi& world .io-raphi&al and histori&al &ontext#' it has not (et hardened into a do-ma$ The p*.lished !odern Poetry and the Tradition$ 6n it' he &hampioned the modernist poetr( of 0rost' )*den' Aeats' and of &o*rse /lliot' who was a kind of spirit*al -*r* to the %ew Criti&s$ The .else' most responsi.or was &apa.*t of the st*d( of literat*re' parti&*larl( /n-lish :iterat*re$ )s one )meri&an a&ademi& p*t it' in 19 5' the appearan&e of "nderstandin# Poetry was a 4re+elation'5 a 4real re+ol*tion in &riti&al theor(:5 6t made sense .a.e&a*se the te&hniE*e of fo&*sin.le of.li&ation of "nderstandin# Poetry and "nderstandin# (iction in 19"3 marked a watershed moment in the histor( of %ew Criti&ism$ 6f .*n&h of 7o*therners operatin.insi-hts into the &omplexities of their poeti& str*&t*res and lan-*a-e thro*-h detailed anal(ses of their works (Bhardwa2 10!1"#$ 6n 19"5' he followed *p "nderstandin# Poetry and 10 .ein.es$ Post UP: the road to the Urn )fter the tri*mph of "nderstandin# Poetry.efore .to and 2*stifi&ation for the tea&hin.o*t poem in a&t*al &lassroom' and .0s' the two text.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 fo*ndation for all s*.e&a*se it opened *p for *s a wa( of talkin.io-raph( or moralit(' -a+e a whole new meanin.its -*ide.seE*ent %ew Criti&al theoriGin-' parti&*larl( .( pro+idin.e&ame the fo*ndational texts not onl( of %ew Criti&ism .on the mar-ins of a&ademia' now the( were writin.(ear' he p*.ook ar-*ed' contra &ommon per&eption' for the =odernists1 &onne&tion with tradition$ )s well' it so*-ht to make their works more a&&essi.Brooks a millionaire KB8<<>7 B6< D)C/ RL# and in mass print well into the mid!19.of poetr($ (Iohn )$ =e(ers Etd$ in Bhardwa2 10#$ 6n the pro&ess' these tea&hin-s n*rt*red an entire -eneration of &lose readers' man( of whom wo*ld e+ent*all( extend these pra&ti&es f*rther than Brooks e+er dared to.le .*pon a poem as lan-*a-e rather than as histor( or . Brooks &ontin*ed to de+elop his intrinsi& approa&h to literat*re$ The followin.( Brooks' with its &as*al o+ert*res to poeti& in&l*si+it( (and to .ooks$ )lmost instantaneo*sl(' the( .( in+adin.
ilit( of poeti& str*&t*re and of 4-en*ine poetr($5 Brooks1 literar( &riti&ism is predi&ated on this theo&ra&($ 8emo+e the re&edin.ahead of o*rsel+es$ 11 .ser+ed that %ew Criti&s had an almost aller-i& rea&tion to expli&it theoriGin.namel( that a*thenti& poems from +ario*s &ent*ries possessed &ertain &ommon elements$ 6n stressin.elief' this theolo-(' in this +er( possi.rama' &o!written with 8o.ookended with a prefa&e and two responses to Brooks1 earlier &riti&s$ %e+ertheless' thro*-h these +er( readin-s The "rn.ert B$ 9eiman$ 0inall(' in 19"8 Brooks mana-ed to 4work o*t a s(nthesis of KhisL interestin.&odified in "nderstandin# Poetry9.o*t poetr(5 (Brooks Etd$ in Bhardwa2 11# with the p*.ook was 4to find a str*&t*re &ommon to all -en*ine poetr(5 (4%ew Criti&ism5 59"#$11 The Well Wrought Urn 8 9 The emphasis on critic as opposed to scholar is pi+otal' as we1ll see 6n man( respe&ts' The 0ell 0rou#ht "rn formaliGes the prin&iples first arti&*lated in "nderstandin# Poetry' and it is perhaps not farfet&hed to &all The 0ell 0rou#ht "rn the s&holar1s "nderstandin# Poetry$ 10 Da*l de =an has o.ook is &omprised of isolated readin-s of ten /n-lish poems' from Iohn Bonne1s 4CanoniGation5 to Aeats1 4)mon.poetr(#$ The fa&t that this *ni+ersal str*&t*re ma( ne+er .li&ation of The 0ell 0rou#ht "rn$ The 0ell 0rou#ht "rn.the &ommon elements in all literat*re' 6 was &ons&io*sl( &*ttin.(7<@8C/# 11 6n this s*mmar( statement' Brook1s entire pro2e&t' 6 think' &r(staliGes$ 0irstl(' poetr( indeed all +er.*ilt$ 7e&ondl(' these poeti& edifi&es' as it were' &an .ook was &on&ei+ed less as a theoreti&al treatise than as an experiment: 6t was de+ised frankl( to test an idea.a&ross the -rain of /n-lish st*dies as then esta.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 "nderstandin# (iction with "nderstandin# .ideas a. ill*minated a distin&t +ision' if not an expli&it theor(' 10 of poetr(' and literat*re in -eneral' &entered on the paradox$ )fter all' as Brooks adds in the same a.e f*ll( o*tlined and that disp*tes o+er what is 4-en*ine poetr(5 ma( &ontin*e endlessl( is irrele+ant$ Fhat is rele+ant is this . a &olle&tion of essa(s written thro*-ho*t the 19"0s' is Brooks1 ma#num opus$ This is the work that se&*red %ew Criti&ism as a s&hool of &riti&ism and Brooks as one of )meri&a1s most preeminent literar( critics (Bhardwa2 1"#8$ Aet despite its stat*s the 8osetta 7tone of %ew Criti&ism' the . whi&h followed the proto&ols of &losed' intrinsi& readin.al art' has a f*ndamental str*&t*re' an internal' rational' ar&hite&toni& s(stem whi&h s*pports it and on whi&h it is .horiGon and we are left in a dire&tionless' e+en nihilisti&' +oid$ 7o thinks Brooks$ B*t we are -ettin.o+e re&olle&tion' the *ltimate p*rpose of the .lished$ (Brooks 4%ew Criti&ism5 59"#$ 9en&e the .e e+al*ated &omparati+el( for their ar&hite&t*ral exe&*tions$ ()r&hite&t*re is a fa+ored metaphor for Brooks in dis&*ssin.7&hool Children'5 .
of poetr(' is itself 4lo-i&al5 ("rn 18#$ 6t often +iolates notions of 4s&ien&e and &ommon sense'5 and 4welds to-ether the dis&ordant and the &ontradi&tor(5 ("rn 18#$ Daradox' therefore' is not merel( a mode of poeti& expressionH it is its +er( essen&e' the +er( possi.2e&ts and &ompli&atin.ilit( of art$ Daradox is 4the ima-ination itself5 ("rn 21#$ Befined as s*&h' poeti& dis&o*rse appears f*ll( prepared to express the modern h*man &ondition$ Brooks1 affirmation of the paradox stands as re2oinder to )dorno1s prohi.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 4Daradox'5 Brooks writes' 4is the lan-*a-eJ KofL poetr(5 ("rn 3#$ This is a lan-*e whose 4words'5 as T$7$ /lliot sa(s' 4perpet*all( 2*xtaposeKeL in new and s*dden &om.e&a*se onl( poetr( &an -i+e +oi&e to its *nspeaka.orio*s demands' demands that stri+e to take readers .le paradoxes$ 6ts redempti+e power lies in its &apa&it( for the in&on-r*o*s' to &om.it*all(L known5 for 4ha.ea&h other' andJ+iolatin.*lar(' impose the same la.and 3la.orate &on&eits and *n&on+entional word *sa-e/di&tion/+o&a.e&a*se of )*s&hwitG .rator( promotion of 4estran-ement5 (ostranenie/ as art1s prin&iple role$ 4The p*rpose of art'5 7hklo+ls( de&lared' 4is to impart the sensation of thin-s as the( per&ei+ed and not as the( are Kha.( 12 .inations5 (Etd$ in "rn 9#H a lan-*a-e 4in whi&h the &onnotations pla( as -reat a part as the denotations5 ("rn 8#H and whose 4terms are &ontin*all( modif(in.le to a E*antit( or a form*la$ 6t &an onl( .readers1 4a*tomati&'5 4ha.ari&$5 Fe m*st write poetr( precisely .form' the de+i&e of art Kor literat*reH and all his examples in this pro-rammati& essa( are literar(L makes the per&eption lon.ration of poetr(1s 4disr*pti+e5 tenden&( also e&hoes the 0ormalist ?i&tor 7hklo+sk(1s eE*all( &ele.ar.ine the 4dis&ordant and the &ontradi&tor('5 and &hallen-e &on+entional pres*mptions' o*r 4&ommon sense$5 Brooks1 insisten&e and &ele.orio*s'15 th*s disr*ptin.iti+e &(ni&ism that 4to write poetr( after )*s&hwitG is .it*aliatiGed5 per&eptions/norms (7hklo+sk( 12' 11' 12# Boes not Brooks1 paradox' epitomiGed in modernist and metaph(si&al poetr( with their ela.e experien&ed$ %or is' 4&reati+e ima-ination'5 the wellsprin.it*aliGation de+o*rs works' &lothes' f*rnit*re' one1s wife' and the fear of war5 (12#$ 4B( 3estran-in-1 o.e(ond 4s&ien&e and &ommon sense5 ("P 18#O 6s not the *ltimate p*rpose of art for Brooks' as it is for 7hklo+sk(' to help *s 4re&o+er the sensation of life5 (7hklo+sk( 12# .their di&tionar( meanin-s5 ("rn 1#$ 0or the poet' as we re&all from "nderstandin# Poetry' does not speak the 4statisti&al'5 empiri&al tr*ths of the s&ientist' 4whose tr*th reE*ires a lan-*a-e p*r-ed of +er( tra&e of paradox5 ("P 3#$ 9e speaks an experiential tr*th (or 3existential tr*th'1 as Brooks mi-ht sa( if he were 0ren&h#' and experien&e is irred*&i.
ilit( to resol+e the &onfli&ts whi&h ha+e .does not ha+e shorthands or 4notations5 a+aila.i-*it('5 and 4iron(5 are inter&han-ea.o*E*et of intrinsi&all( ..le to him as the( are to the s&ientist and 4has to make *p his lan-*a-e as he -oes5 ("rn 9#' it is *nderstanda.oth in the t(pes of &onfli&ts allotted (don2es/ to them and how these &onfli&ts are to .Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 &onfo*ndin.le that' initiall(' this lan-*a-e wo*ld ..ols$ The *nit( is a&hie+ed .alan&in.if he is ori-inal.ein-$ Forse' it is to stop .ea*tif*l or *-l(' attra&ti+e or rep*lsi+e'5 4a poem .e 4disr*pti+e5 ("rn 9#' and poeti& *nit(' as far as Brooks1 &on&erned' is an(thin.ri*m of for&es' not a form*la$ 6t is 4pro+ed5 as a dramati& &on&l*sion is pro+ed: .*t disr*pti+e$ 4KThe *nit(L is a positi+e *nit(' not a ne-ati+e *nit('5 he stresses ("rn 195#$ ) 4workin.e&omes merel( .al 4.stra&t from it# is that of ar&hite&t*re or paintin-: it is a pattern of resolved stresses.( whate+er means.prin&iple' witho*t this 4total pattern'5 4whi&h in&orporates within itself items intrinsi&all( .ea*tif*l items5 ("rn 19"' 195' 19"#$ D*t simpl(' paradox or 4iron(5 (Brooks readil( admits that 4paradox'5 4am.e a poet is' in Brooks1 own words' to .( propositions' metaphors' s(m.&onnotations' attit*des' meanin-s'5 a *nit( that 4*nites the like with the *nlike5 ("rn 195#$12 Fitho*t this str*&t*rin.een a&&epted as the don2es of the drama$ (20.alan&es and harmoniGations' de+eloped thro*-h a temporal s&heme$ (203H emphasis added# KC<%068= S@<T/TL 13 )s Brooks ela.allet5 ("rn 203# $ The 4disr*pti+e5 tenden&(' the +iolent atta&ks on 4s&ien&e and &ommon sense5. KJL 6t is a pattern of resol*tions and .o*t ofJ+ario*s 12 ) .le for him K"rn 195L#' is how a poem &omes to 4terms with itself5 (46ron(5 23"#13 To &ome to terms with oneself is to disa+ow/reno*n&e the paradox of paradoxi&al .( its a.ein-$ 7in&e a poet.#$ 6t is worth o.and harmoniGin.how old!fashioned (or 3&lassi&al'1 if (o* prefer# Brooks1 &on&eption of drama is$ Fith his *sa-e of 4don2es'5 Brooks expli&itl( si-ns his alle-ian&e to 0ren&h neo&lassi&ism and its stri&t 4:aws of @nit(5t hat -o+ern dramati& works' .these are .ook' Brooks pro+ides a s*&&*lent des&ription of this 4eternal str*&t*re of a poem5: The essential str*&t*re of a poem (distin-*ished from the rational or lo-i&al str*&t*re and the 4statement5 whi&h we a.of paradox' Brooks is also speakin.of poetr(1s 4str*&t*re of meanin-s'5 of its 4prin&iple of *nit('5 a *nit( of 4.a poet$ To .into .e resol+ed$ 13 .e &haoti&' &ontradi&tor(' &oarse$ Crad*all(' howe+er' a -rammar de+elops' its 4internal press*res5 (46ron(5 23"# .e&ome 4dire&ted and &ontrolled5 ("rn 9#' and a 4pattern5 emer-es$ 0or in speakin.*s with the 4dis&ordant and the &ontradi&tor(O5 4B*t'5 as Brooks sa(s' 4we ha+e not done with the paradox (et5 ("rn "#$ Daradox1s +olatile pla( is short li+ed/temporar($ <r rather' it is transformed into a &aref*ll( &horeo-raphed performan&e' into a +er.orates in 4The 9erse( of Daraphrase5 &hapter of the "rn: 6n the *nified poem' the poet has 4&ome to terms5 with his experien&e$ The poem does not merel( e+ent*ate in a lo-i&al &on&l*sion$ The &on&l*sion of the poem is the workin.o*t of the +ario*s tensions.ser+in.it f*rther down in the .*t the pan-s of poeti& infan&(' of a &omin. set *p .( a dramati& pro&ess' not a lo-i&alH it represents an eE*ili.ein.
iosis' or as Brooks paraphrases it' disre-ardin.er' p*t to sleep his fears so that he li+ed in a sort of fond dream' a la&k of awareness' a sl*m.er had sealed his spiritH or did her lo+eliness' her sense of .'195#$ To a&hie+e harmon( is to a&hie+e stasis' an *ndisr*pti+e 4eE*ili.of pa-an m(th and Christian theolo-(5 (46ron(5 235#H .that we shall want to takeJ (46ron(5 235# Fh( 4pres*ma.iliGe and minimiGe paradoxi&al &*rrents that he does not e+en realiGe that he is standin.*t asserted (3propa-andiGed1 we are e+en tempted to sa(#$ )&&ordin-l(' Brooks1 interpretations pro&eed in the same two!step fashion of pro.o*t to take the road more tra+elled .l(O5 7o anxio*s is he to sta.his own maxim on the impossi.*t as a stri&tl( re-imented' and somewhat red*ndant' experiment testin.ilit( of paraphrasin.theolo-ies' ea&h with their own distin&t semioti&s' form a harmonio*s s(m.iliGe terms' to freeGe them5 ("rn 9#$ The de+elopment of the paradox' as &harted .and deli-htf*l f*sion J a deft and li-ht!fin-ered attempt to s*--est the E*alit( of di+init( with whi&h lo+ers perenniall( attempt to endow maidens' who are' finall(' mortal5 (46ron(5 235#$ %or does Brooks entertain the possi.l(' it is the se&ond readin.e&omes less &onf*sin-$ B( the end' two opposin.erO Dres*ma.Fordsworth1s 4) sl*m.wa( from 7hklo+sk(1s estran-ement' with its *npa+ed' wa+erinroads' with its &onfo*ndin.ilit( that a poeti& *tteran&e ma( &ontain se+eral paradoxes' and that the poem/interpretation one ends *p with depends on whi&h paradox the reader &hose to resol+e$ 7o in the midst of interpretin.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 tensions'5 4it representsJan a&hie+ed harmon(5 ("rn 20.poetr(' 4a &harmin.($ Fe are a lon.oth the assertion and the reali&ation of that assertion5 ("rn 1.that &o*ld not feel / The to*&h of earthl( (earsU .immortal' l*ll him into sl*m.er did m( spirit seal'5 Brooks asks himself: Bid U7he seemed a thin.ri*m of for&es$5 6n other words' to a&hie+e an a.H emphasis added#$ :iterat*re' therefore' is not a site where do&trines are &ontested .lem! resol*tion$ 0irstl(' the &riti& identifies an apparent paradox within a poemH then' he ill*strates how the paradox is resol+ed' how the 4internal press*res5 are .le &onf*sion5 .*t as Brooks works thro*-h its stanGas' this 4*nthinka..e&a*se the sl*m.( Brooks' leads to its deparadoxiGtion and' in t*rn' to the s&entifi&ation of poetr($ 6ndeed' Brooks &on&ei+es the poem not as a &ondensed i&on or mi&ro&osm of a poet1s wild' *nr*l( 4&reati+e ima-ination'5 .at the &rossroads' and that he is a.alan&ed$ Th*s 7hakespeare1s 4Fho is 7il+ia5 (from Two 3entlemen of 4erona/ initiall( reads as paradoxi&al 4min-lin.(Gantine paths$ 6n Brooks1 poeti& domain/*ni+erse/do&trine' 14 .sol*te s&ien&e' as it is the 4tenden&( of s&ien&e to sta.o*t a h(pothesis whose sol*tion it alread( knows: 4The poem is an instan&e of the do&trine whi&h it assertsH it is .somethin.ein.
to Brooks1 lo-i&' are to .een wro*-ht well' and in it la( the ashes of dead paradoxes$ 9ere' we sho*ld ask the o.followed Brooks in his ela.ilit( or *n&ertaint( as the poeti& &ondition' onl( to reflexi+el( minimiGe or sta.is *na&&o*nted for' and e+er(thin.oration of the paradox' we ma( wonder wh( Brooks .e st*died' not pla(ed with$ :ike *rns' the( are sa&red o.Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 nothin.e-ins .ilit( in his readin-sO Fh( does he re&ant his own &redo' wh( does not he li+e what he prea&hesO =ore pra-mati&all(' how &an he ens*re that the pre&io*s *rn' so deli&atel( wro*-ht' is not mishandled' and that its 4internal press*res5 remain 4.e looked at' re+ered' perhaps admitted (like the men it holds' not all *rns are &reated eE*all(#' .e to*&hed or handled$ <ne does not &radle a .sti&ks o*t' nothin.insta.alan&ed5O 9a+in.has its pla&e$ Doetr( has .alan&ed5O Ideal Reader )s an( m*se*m -oer or widower knows' *rns are not to .ilit(O )nd more pra-mati&all(' how &an he ens*re the *rn remains safe' not mishandled and &ra&ked' that poetr(1s 4internal press*res5 remain 4.2e&ts of &ontemplation$ 9en&e' enter the ideal readerJ$ 15 .( emphasiGin.ilit( or *n&ertaint( as the poeti& &ondition' onl( to reflexi+el(' almost o*t of a kind of aller-i& rea&tion' works to minimiGe or normaliGe this poeti& insta.s' nothin.*t ne+er to*&hed$ )nalo-o*sl(' poems' a&&ordin.elo+ed$ @rns are to .iliGe this +er( insta.dist*r.elo+ed1s *rn' less the *rn slips' &ra&ks' and spills o*t the .+io*s: wh( does Brook at on&e introd*&e insta.een perfe&ted into a s&ien&e$ The *rn has .
( some5ody' for the( are 4merel( potential *ntil the( are read$5 /nter the ideal reader$ The ideal reader is the trans&endental s*.alan&ed a&t$ 6ndeed' as Brooks admits' e+en an 4apparentl( homo-eneo*s -ro*p of readers5 ma( deri+e 4different experien&esJfrom the same poem5 (40ormalists5 ."#$ The +er( readin.titled 4m( &redo'5 4knows as well as an(one that literar( works are merel( potential *ntil the( are.( *n&ons&io*s desires' or' we mi-ht pres*me' .ilities' their interests' their pre2*di&es' their ideas5 (40ormalist &riti&s5 .asis of a.le5 (4%ew Criti&ism5 00#$ %e+ertheless' Brooks insists' this idealiGation is ne&essar($ The ass*mption or &on2*ration of an ideal reader is a 4defensi. #$ )t the same time' while no readers are ideal' some are more ideal than others$ 4Common sense and an appeal to the di&tionar( to the text in E*estion wo*ld indi&ate that some of *s read more sensiti+el( and intelli-entl( than others5 (4%ew Criti&ism5 00#$ )nd 4KtLo sa( that there is no wa( to pro+e that one reader1s interpretation is .( hands' m*st .5#$ 4The alternati+es are desperate'5 Brooks immediatel( warns in an apo&al(pti& parenthesis: either we sa( that one1s person1s readin.2e&t who is not .*t 4all &riti&s of whate+er pers*asion are for&ed to adopt5 (40ormalists5 .een madeH that is' we frankl( mo+e from literar( &riti&ism into so&io!ps(&holo-( (40ormalists5 ..is as -ood as another1s and eE*ate those readin-s on the .e kept *nder lo&ked -lass$ 7till' literar( works ha+e to .of poetr(' therefore' whi&h en-enders it in the first pla&e' alwa(s threatens to *ndermine the poem1s do&trine' to *ndo its &aref*ll( .e kept well wro*-ht' and not mishandled .le strate-( '5 whi&h not onl( the formalist &riti& s*&h as Brooks .e read .o*nd to an( episteme' *n&orr*pted .le st*d( of literat*re5 (4%ew Criti&ism5 00#$ Tho*-h Brooks ne+er states it expli&itl(' 16 .li&ation of the 0ell 0rou#ht "rn is arti&le s*.etter than another1s means the end of an( responsi.sol*te eE*alit( and th*s den( the possi.that is' that the( are re&reated in the minds of a&t*al readers' who +ar( enormo*sl( in their &apa.5#$ The *rn' if it is to .5!.( earlier readin-s$ The ideal reader is of &o*rse 2*st that' an ideal$ 4The ideal reader is a platoni& idea'5 Brooks explains' 4an ideal termin*s ne+er a&t*all( attaina.ilit( of an( standard readin-$ <r else we take the lowest &ommon denominator of the +ario*s readin-s that ha+e .Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 K<f &o*rse'L4The formalist &riti&'5 Brooks writes a few (ears after the p*.( -r*.
will redeem the falla&io*s sins of &ommon readers$ 6t1s onl( 4&ommon sense$5 17 .Updated: 18:13:00 a5/p5 5/30/2011 it is safe to ass*me that it is the a&ademi& &riti&' endowed with (ears of professional' sensiti+e ' and intelli-ent readin-' and a&&ess to the .i--est di&tionaries' is the &losest mankind has to an ideal reader' whose 4sensiti+e and intelli-ent5 readin.
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