This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
403-412 Published by: Kenyon College Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4332194 . Accessed: 17/09/2011 09:23
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kenyon College is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Kenyon Review.
I suppose that it would be generally agreed that the late Professor Edwin Greenlaw was one of the ablest scholars that the system has produced. and theses which its machinery commits it to turn out. or plainly muddle-headedbooks. But there is a measure of justice in the obvious reply. In that work. not only as a matter of fairness but of strategy. a certain amount of folly.not that I disparage it.JR. A certain amount of waste. Greenlaw undertakes to . Be that as it may. and that his Province of Literary History stands as one of the most intelligent defenses of the aims pursued by our best departments. I think that it is healthful to remind ourselves constantly of the amount of rubbish which we produce. and it is most obviously exposed to attack by the stupid. dissertations. LiteraryHistory vs. I am anxious to get at the system itself-and at its best.LITERATURE AND TITE PROFESSORS I. Criticism By CLEANTH BROOKS. may be the necessary concomitant of the practical functioning of any plan of English studies. THE modernEnglishdepartment notoriously is easy to attack. Even random quotation from these exhibits allows one to make out a case against it. or trifling. that no system is to be condemned by the incidental stupidities of some of its proponents. This is not the attack which I propose to make here . articles.
then.404 REVIEW KENYON assess the rival claims of the criticsand the literaryhistorians. think of Raoul Glaber who nine centuries ago looked upon the outburst of ecclesiasticalbuilding in France and wrote that the world seemed everywhereto be discarding its old garmentsin order to put on a white vestmentof new churches. after all. is the functionof the historian. John the Divine in New York or Mount St. . The followingpassageis typicalof his position: One looks upon the building of a modern cathedralsuch as St. John's or Mount St. in a recentarticle in whichhe too attemptsto definethe critic'sfunction. perceivethe functionand meaningof the variouspartsin rela- . That is the fact. if he is instructedin minor personalitiesand out of the way bits of history. That is the role of the critic. . It is obvious that in terms of this distinctionthe critic occupiesa rather piddling role." The historian scale. if more instructed. the critic'sfunction understands to the is to understand cathedralas an architect it.also uses unawareof for architecture his illustration. To providesuch a vision througheyes long turnedto dust.though presumably Greenlaw's priorreferenceto it. at the top of an ascending It is amusingto observethat Allen Tate. To it he brings whatever gifts he may possess of interpretation. The critic'sfunctionis to with the compare architecture that of otherchurches. Alban gives a new sense of the continuity of human experience. though the critic must be than the mere observer the brutefact. Thus througheyes long turnedto dust one becomesaware of that white vestment through which men have sotughtto express brief human experience. For Tate. But he may also. He with that of the may compare. and our contemplationof St. Alban in Washington. have survived in the memories of men. One notes also that. rememberinghow few. the of "moreinstructed" instructed mustbe further still-to the point of familihistorian stands aritywith "outof the way bits of history.its architecture cathedralof medieval Europe. It may seem merely an enormous church.
until one of the largerfoundations is willing to equip a sufficiently determinedparty of explorers . and the cathedral shouldtry to see it as the architect it indeed. architect's he assumeseitherthat such knowledgeof inner structure peris fectly obviousor that it comesas a matterof coursefrom a thorough acquaintance with history. He possesses a great deal of information. But it is perfectlyapparent that the critical disciplinefor Professor Greenlawis far more limitedand dry than it is for Mr.valuable and interestingin its own right.Mr. Obviously.and it does not come of is itself from a studyof literary history. and of incalculable value for the critic. the visiondoes not appearin his schemeat all.HISTORY CRITICISM VS. he is igon norantof its architecture. Tate. The averageEnglishprofessorbearsliving testimonyto this. He has been trained (if he comes from one of our better universities) in linguisticsand the historyof literature. humancapabilities being what they are. Tate would not denythe value of being able to place the objectin its historicalcontext.can only understand as architectureby seeingit in these terms. The chargeis a graveone and ought to be documented up to the hilt.he often does not know how in to read. Rather. short. But he himself is not that critic. Unfortunately. Now I do not intendto driveeitherTate or Greenlaw into an absurdantithesisof the other's position. He has little or no knowledgeof the innerstructure a poem or a drama(this is not to say that he of does not know the past criticalgeneralizations it!).he evidentlymeans to suggest that the studentof would see it.just as Greenlawdoes not deny the value of criticalcomparisons. But the inner structureof a great deal of literature not obvious.to know the cathedral an integrated as organism. Tate writesas a poet and criticbut presumably would he his knowledge buildnot demandthat the studentdemonstrate by ing a cathedralof his own. Criticism deals with comparisons. Evidently. 405 tion to the whole fabric. Mr.
The animals were there. But the scholarly conscience of the historian qua historian can hardly guarantee that they will be referred to any center. Short of this. as a matter of fact. the stallion.at least in a fashion sufficientlyobjective to satisfy the hard-bittensceptic. or even of particular editions? There are many histories. whatever his own attainments in the art of reading literature. On the other hand.406 REVIEW KENYON and to furnish them with sufficientcredentials. or of literary personalities. and the center of reference is all-important.) I hasten to disavow for the English professor the good offices of the teachers colleges of the country. A few years ago one of our learned journals printed a scholarly article on animals in modern poetry. I suggest that this is to be accomplished by critical training in the architectonicsof literature rather than by mere training in literary history. (This has been documented up to the hilt. then. is not whether we shall study the history of literature. for it is hardly possible to have training in criticism without training in literary history. the average professor has not been able to teach his students how to read. it is possible to have literary history and no critical discipline. Literaryhistory we shall scarcelyavoid if we are to read the literatureof the past at all.but rather: about what center will this history be organized? About the study of literature as an art? Or will the history be a history of social customs. that is what we now have. and for the purpose in hand. or of literary fashions.it probablycannot be documented. and even the fabulous . The location of the "mere" is important. and were duly classified and counted. the wolf. one may be content with a more modest point: namely. the beaver. We may be sure that scholarly conscience will see to it that the facts gathered are facts and that the presentationis objective. The real question. It is not out of their armories of psychological gadgets and contrivances that he is likely to be equipped. Literaturecannot be taught in a vacuum.
if I read him correctly. As a practical matter. etc. . we find. of course. theology. or indifferent. he proposes nothing less than a history of human culture which will use literature as its material but surely must also make use of philosophy.these questions.whether the poems were good. man-hole-cover counting in plenty. and what mite each animal contributedto the sum . Greenlaw would have us "get" an Elizabethanpoem by a total recovery of the whole Elizabethan menage of which the poem is a part. the mental climate in which the poem originated. Moreover. (I believe that in the social sciences such studies are sometimes referred to as exercises in man-hole-covercounting. etc. But his scheme seems to me at once too wide and too narrow: on the one hand. It is a doctrine of perfection. 407 unicorn. But the elaborate statistics functioned in a void. In other words.) Professor Greenlaw is obviously not interested in counting man-hole-covers. were not raised. economics. The article is typical of hundredswhich in their subjects are not so patently ludicrous. bad. and is thus a tribute to the scholar who insisted upon it. perhaps wisely. His concept of history provides as a center of reference an interest in the human spirit. still it is possible that he may know self-consciously much more about the period than Shakespeare or Campion ever knew and yet know nothing about the problems of craft which alone would enable him to understandwhat Shakespeareand Campion were up to. if we grant that the student has recovered much of it. he seems to proceed continually on the assumption that the specificproblem of reading and judging literatureis completely met in the process of learning the meaning of words. But there is a measure in all things. etc. So much for the best young scholars. When we come down to the bastardizationsof the method. few students of literature will be able to recover the whole scene. On the other hand. the political and philosophical allusions. political history. Finally. This is magnificent.HISTORY CRITICISM VS.. How each animal got into each poem and what he did there .
A. exhibits of all the admired impartiality the scientist.408 REVIEW KENYON consider studentwho is proceeding his B.) The question:is this a good poem.with no nonsenseaboutit. If one askswhat the 20th Century thinksof the poem. and modern it poetry. . to saddlethis specialvariantupon Greenlaw. is judged by Romanticstandards quite as a matterof course. The recovery pastculture of becomes spreadratherthin in the pages of a "survey course.when discussing Elizabethan he the sonnet."etc.he is glad to supplythe answer and He by meansof the questionnaire the comptometer. of as He prefersto use relativism primarily a meansof refugefrom criticalattack. But he has no opinionof his own.by the way. Actually. when occasionally swims into his ken. are real poetry.he cheerfullyentertains. . to insist that we take into account"the spiritof the age. It is easy to understand why he shouldlearn. though often in the kitchenit is true. But completerelativism a positionat once too heroicand is too doctrinaire appealto the average to member the profession.even from the best of orthodoxinstructors. Good for whom? The well-accoutered to undertake explainwhatthe various18thCentury criticsthought of the poem and why.for example." The literature gets lost in the process.or survives. is happy. whole congeriesof literaryjudgments. (I do not mean. he might have a higherregardfor trainingin aesthetics. If he brought his own unconscious aestheticup into the light for inspection. For example. becomesa nonsense relativistwill question." "the vagariesof Elizabethan taste. But Shelley'spoems. as of This emphasison historyoccasionally takes an extremeform relativistic by insistingon a completely positionon values.it becomesmerelyan illustration of certainculturalprocesses. much for the consequences teachingliterature history.who is not the to to be trainedto be an Englishprofessorin orderto teachother studentsto be Englishprofessors. what the 19th Century criticsthoughtand why.if it survivesas literature So at all. in termsof the instructor's personalenthusiasms. little or nothingaboutliterature.
consequently. As Professor J. New Methods for the Study of Literature. M. Manley explains (in the preface which he contributes): " . .has not developed. methods for cataloguing the kinaesthetic images in Shelley and the thermal images in Keats. For Professor Greenlaw's history of the cathedral. Certainlywe shall never learn the secrets of style by merely mooning over them or by ejaculatingadmiration." "minute research. the New Methods proposes nothing less than a molecular analysis of the limestone and glass of which the cathedral is built. His flirtation with scientific terminology." "mastery of fact. . in all the sciences of organic life analysis is a necessarypreliminaryand an indispensable aid to the understanding of the complete functioning of the organism as a whole. then. The first chapter states its purpose frankly enough: "We have. While the study of the environment of literature is conducted on the most modern scientific principles. But even Greenlaw has confused the issues in making his case by gratuitous references to "scientific learning. Method for method's sake is here completely out of control. For example. the study of literatureitself. are to be scrupulouslyscientific.HISTORY CRITICISM VS. is an illustration of the machineryprovided ." For his implied equation of literary history with "science" remains at the level of metaphor. as distinct from its environment. The desire to imitate the objectivity of science permeates the whole profession. correlations of the use of monosyllables by Shakespeare and by Marlowe. 409 I have spoken respectfully of Professor Greenlaw's defense of historical scholarshipbecause I do respect it. We get plans for statistical graphs of thought patterns. Here." This is true enough. for example." The New Methods. of course. has its importance in revealing a significant state of mind. consider that remarkablebook. but the effort to shy away from "mooning" has been so violent that it has carriedthe book over into a fake scientificmethodology of the most elaborate kind. It dogs even those sporadic attempts to treat literature as an art. a curious situation.
-.. .-------2 ..2--Cn 12(2) . The combinationof back vowels with sound movement from voiced stop to liquid gives sonority...... The symmetryof grouping is interesting:S.2 2 2..--...4.1 u .-.. The patternsare not balancedbut massed: a group of three "R" followed by "F" in the firstspeechgroup..... S .. N ...3 --.-.. "P R" and "P r. and 60 per cent of the vowels are back vowels.-. ." separatedonly by "f" and then "D F.-----0-.-.-.. "So all day long the noise of battle rolled..--..).--.-C-.... 4...--. The stressed sounds are more than three times the unstressed..5 26 V 8---------------2 10 ------------------V 16 40 per cent (high) Cii 19 per cent Total 2.--..-.-. Distributionof Stressedand Unstressed 2 2 2 3/ /2 4 3 2 2 4 20 6 .----------------. all stressed. Voiceless consonants are low.) s L 4b. M.-.410 REVIEW KENYON to treat the disposition of vowels and consonants in the line... SL .1 C -.-.." (I dispense with the chart.liquids and voiced stops make up 62 per cent..3 1 ( 1 ) ---------------------.--.--.0.--...--......-.--.--4(1) Dominance: B.. Patterns B.. 2 2 2. which are only three slight interruptionsby groups of two. U.--... .2...--.2 ( 1 ) --------------------------F -.-.--. ..4 0 -.. Of the consonants.in the second.S ...--. .. one of the two being used to give propulsiveforce at the beginning.1 2 --..-.--. 3 4 3 4.. SL ..." . R R R F/ r PR f Pr DF Summary Vocalic qualityis high.--..4(....
therefore." (This does not mean that it has to divorce itself from intelligence or collapse into impressionistic "mooning. we have added to the ever-increasingpyramid of knowledge. at least we shall have gathered facts. sought. What troubles me here. we findin the firstmostof the soundsin the upperhalf of the clef. Humble though they be. But never mind.") But it is high time for it to give up its search for an easy way out of its problems. But the book . There is no substitutefor the imagination (tainted with subjectivitythough it may be). and there is no substitute for the inculcation of the discipline of reading (a discipline that involves active critical .and more important. It is my considered opinion that the English department will have to forego the pleasures of being "scientific. Suppose we do correlate the auditoryimages of Toornai of the Elephants with the gustatory images of that work.is eloquent of two things which are typical enough of the average English department: a cheerful sacrifice of imagination to objectivity and a fond over-confidencein the virtues of method. The invertedsymmetry the last three groups is in curious. Surely one is justified in feeling that this is monstrous. is not the bulk of the analysis but the trifling quality of the results gained . in the second.VS.it could have been produced only in an American University . The high-stressed soundsare massedin threesand twos in the firstspeechgroupand one at the end of the second. Now no one knows better than myself (who have been guilty of some rather extended analysis of eight-line poems) that it requires a good deal of space to try to point out in prose the ways in which a poem gets its effects.more in the lower. Perhaps we shall have difficulty in showing the relevance of our statistics to the "meanings"of the story. HISTORY CRITICISM 411 Takingeachspeechgroupas a unit. but one half-pennyworth of bread to this intolerable deal of sack! In fairness to the profession I do not think that these New Methods for the study of literature are much practised.
Scholars as Critics By ARTHUR MIZENER THE basic functionof the literaryscholarwas clearly indi- cated by Dr. Prudence and justice are virtues and excellencies of all times and of all places. and the sciences which that knowledge requires or includes.howeverlaudablein themselves.whether we wish to be useful or pleasing. that he sought thus earnestly to evaluate the world of Milton's poetry than that the judgment which resulted was. Johnson his reputation for a kind of perverse critical blindness. we are perpetually moralists. essentially are sidelines. . ." he said. as they maybecomeblind alleys. the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong . Johnson undestanding was a serious and adult act involving the whole man. Whether we provide for action or conversation." It is largely this involvement of the whole man which has given Dr. For Dr. the gatheringof historicaldata . . For him a work of art was a serious representation of the human world. for example. If the professionlacks an interestin literature literature. "that the knowledge of external nature."the piling up of verified knowledge.these things. are not the great or frequent business of the human mind.412 KENYON REVIEW judgment). II. It is far more important. The uncritical pursuitof "facts. Johnson when he remarked that "all works which describemanners require notes in sixty or seventy years" if they are to be understood. but we are geometricians only by chance. as . it had to be true. "The truth is. an act of evaluation and judgment. The significance of a remarkof this kind depends almost entirely on the conception of understanding which lies behind it. Someof us feel that is what theyhave alreadybecome.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.