Princeton: Princeton UP, 1980 — essay on the prosody of free verse (PH 1531 .F73 H37) - surveys critical positions and emphasizes re-definitions of the term (PN 56 .P3 P37x)
In the twentieth century the methods of poetry have also changed drastically, although the innovator here might be said to have been Baudelaire (1821-1867). The disassociation and recombination of ideas of the Cubists, the free association of ideas of the Surrealists, dreams, trance states, the poetry of preliterate people all have been absorbed into the practice of modern poetry. This proliferation of form is not likely to end. Effort that once was applied to perfecting a single pattern in a single form may in the future be more and more directed toward the elaboration of entirely new multimedia forms, employing the resources of all the established arts. At the same time, writers may prefer to simplify and polish the forms of the past with a rigorous, Neoclassicist discipline. In a worldwide urban civilization, which has taken to itself the styles and discoveries of all cultures past and present, the future of literature is quite impossible to determine.
The Western novel is a product of modern civilization, although in the Far East novels began a separate development as early as the tenth century. Extended prose works of complex interpersonal relations and motivations begin in seventeenth-century France with (1678) by Madame de Lafayette. Eighteenth-century France produced an immense number of novels dealing with love analysis but none to compare with Madame de Lafayettes until Pierre Choderlos de Laclos wrote (1782). This was, in form, an exchange of letters between two corrupters of youth; but, in intent, it was a savage satire of the ancient regime and a heart-rending psychological study. The English novel of the eighteenth century was less subtle, more robust vulgar in the best sense and is exemplified by Henry Fieldings (1749) and Laurence Sternes . The nineteenth century was the golden age of the novel. It became ever more profound, complex, and subtle (or, on the other hand, more popular, eventful, and sentimental). By the beginning of the twentieth century it had become the most common form of thoughtful reading matter and had replaced, for most educated people, religious, philosophical, and scientific works as a medium for the interpretation of life. By the late 1920s the novel had begun to show signs of decay as a form, and no works have since been produced to compare with the recent past. This may prove to be a temporarily barren period, or else the novel may be losing its energy as a narrative art form and in this sense giving way to the medium of film.
The forms of satire are as manifold as those of literature itself from those of the mock epic to the biting epigram. A great many social and political novels of today would have been regarded as satire by the ancients. Many of the great works of all time are satires, but in each case they have risen far above their immediate satirical objectives. The sixteenth-century medieval satire on civilization, the of Rabelais, grew under the hand of its author into a great archetypal myth of the lust for life. Cervantess often called the greatest work of prose fiction in the West, is superficially a satire of the sentimental romance of knightly adventure. But, again, it is an archetypal myth, telling the adventures of the soul of man of the individual in the long struggle with what is called the human condition. by Murasaki Shikibu has sometimes been considered by obtuse critics as no more than a satire on the sexual promiscuity of the Heian court. In fact, it is a profoundly philosophical, religious, and mystical novel.
Literature may be an art, but writing is a craft, and a craft must be learned. Talent, special ability in the arts, may appear at an early age; the special personality called genius may indeed be born, not made. But skill in matching intention and expression comes with practice. Naïve writers, naturals like the seventeenth-century English diarist Samuel Pepys, the late eighteenth-century French naïf Restif de la Bretonne, the twentieth-century American novelist Henry Miller, are all deservedly called stylists, although their styles are far removed from the deliberate, painstaking practice of a Flaubert or a Turgenev. They wrote spontaneously whatever came into their heads; but they wrote constantly, voluminously, and were, by their own standards, skilled practitioners.
Other writers have sought to use language for its most subtle and complex effects and have deliberately cultivated the ambiguity inherent in the multiple or shaded meanings of words. Between the two world wars, ambiguity became very fashionable in English and American poetry and the ferreting out of ambiguities from even the simplest poem was a favorite critical sport. T.S. Eliot in his literary essays is usually considered the founder of this movement. Actually, the platform of his critical attitudes is largely moral, but his two disciples, I.A. Richards in and William Empson in carried his method to extreme lengths. The basic document of the movement is Charles Kay Ogden and I.A. Richardss a work of enormous importance in its time. Only a generation later, however, their ideas were somewhat at a discount.
Critical theories of literature in the Orient, however, have been more varied. There is an immense amount of highly technical, critical literature in India. Some works are recipe books, vast collections of tropes and stylistic devices; others are philosophical and general. In the best period of Indian literature, the cultural climax of Sanskrit ( 320-490), it is assumed by writers that expressive and constructive factors are twin aspects of one reality. The same could be said of the Chinese, whose literary manuals and books on prosody and rhetoric are, as with the West, relegated to the class of technical handbooks, while their literary criticism is concerned rather with subjective, expressive factors and so aligns itself with the pseudo-Longinuss sublime. In Japan, technical, stylistic elements are certainly important (Japanese discrimination in these matters is perhaps the most refined in the world), but both writer and reader above all seek qualities of subtlety and poignancy and look for intimations of profundity often so evanescent as to escape entirely the uninitiated reader.
The Philosophical Works of David Hume. Including all the Essays, and exhibiting the more important Alterations and Corrections in the successive Editions by the Author. In Four Volumes. (Edinburgh: Adam Black and William Tait, 1826). Vol. 3.
The very greatest translations may become classics in their own right, of enduring literary excellence (the King James Version of the Bible, appearing in 1611, is the outstanding example), but on the whole the approximate equivalence of most translations to their originals seems to have a very short life. The original work remains the same, of lasting value to its own people, but the translation becomes out of date with each succeeding generation as the language and criteria of literary taste change. Nothing demonstrates the complexity of literary language more vividly. An analogous process takes place when a reader experiences a literary work in his own language; each generation gets a new version from its own classics.