theory of literature wellek and warren pdf

Theory Of Literature Wellek And Warren Pdf

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Skip to search form Skip to main content You are currently offline. Some features of the site may not work correctly. Warren Published History. Preface The naming of this book has been more than ordinarily difficult.

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Audio Software icon An illustration of a 3. Software Images icon An illustration of two photographs. Images Donate icon An illustration of a heart shape Donate Ellipses icon An illustration of text ellipses. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form. Even a proper "short title," "Theory of Literature and Methodology of Literary Study," would be too cumbersome.

Before the nineteenth century one might have managed, for then a full, analytic title could have covered the title-page while the spine bore the inscription "Literature. It is not a textbook introducing the young to the elements of literary appreciation nor like Morize's Aims and Methods a survey of the techniques employed in scholarly research.

Some continuity it may claim with Poetics and Rhet- oric from Aristotle down through Blair, Campbell, and Karnes , systematic treatments of the genres of belles-lettres and stylistics, or with books called Principles of Literary Criticism. But we have sought to unite "poetics" or literary theory and "criticism" evaluation of literature with "scholarship" "re- search" and "literary history" the "dynamics" of literature, in contrast to the "statics" of theory and criticism.

In contrast to the Germans, however, we have avoided mere reproductions of the views of others and, though we take into account other perspec- tives and methods, have written from a consistent point of view; in contrast to Tomashevsky, we do not undertake to give ele- mentary instruction on such topics as prosody.

We are not eclectic like the Germans or doctrinaire like the Russian. By the standards of older American scholarship, there is some- thing grandiose and even "unscholarly" about the very attempt to formulate the assumptions on which literary study is con- ducted to do which one must go beyond "facts" and something presumptuous in our effort to survey and evaluate highly special- ized investigations.

Every specialist will unavoidably be dissatis- vi Prejace fied with our account of his specialty. But we have not aimed at minute completeness: the literary examples cited are always examples, not "proof" ; the bibliographies are "selective. We have judged it of central use to ourselves and others to be inter- national in our scholarship, to ask the right questions, to provide an organon of method.

The authors of this book, who first met at the University of Iowa in , immediately felt their large agreement in literary theory and methodology. Though of differing backgrounds and training, both had fol- lowed a similar pattern of development, passing through histori- cal research and work in the "history of ideas," to the position that literary study should be specifically literary.

Both believed that "scholarship" and "criticism" were compatible 5 both refused to distinguish between "contemporary" and past literature. In 1 , they contributed chapters on "History" and "Criti- cism" to a collaborative volume, Literary Scholarship, instigated and edited by Norman Foerster, to whose thought and encour- agement they are conscious of owing much.

To him were it not to give a misleading impression of his own doctrine they would dedicate this book. The chapters of the present book were undertaken on the basis of existing interests. Wellek is primarily responsible for chapters , , , and 19, Mr. Warren for chapters 3, 8, and 1 8 j both shared equally in the concluding chapter.

But the book is a real instance of a collaboration in which the author is the shared agreement between two writers. In terminology, tone, and emphasis there remain doubtless, some slight incon- sistencies between the writers ; but they venture to think that there may be compensation for these in the sense of two different minds reaching so substantial an agreement.

It remains to thank Dr. Stevens and the Humanities Division of the Rockefeller Foundation, without whose aid the book would not have been possible, and the President, the Deans, and the department chairman of the University of Iowa, for their support and generous allotment of time; R. Blackmur and J. Pope, and Robert Penn Prejace vii Warren for their reading of certain chapters; Miss Alison White for close, devoted assistance throughout the composition of the book.

The authors wish to acknowledge also the kindness of certain editors and publishers in permitting the incorporation of some passages from their earlier writings into the present book: to the Louisiana University Press and Cleanth Brooks, former edi- tor of the Southern Review for "Mode of Existence of the Literary Work" ; to the University of North Carolina Press for a portion of "Literary History," in Literary Scholarship, ed.

Literature and Literary Study 3 II. The Function of Literature 19 IV. Literary Theory, Criticism, and History 29 V. Literature and Psychology 75 IX. Literature and Society 89 X.

Literature and Ideas XI. Literature and the Other Arts IV. Style and Stylistics XV. Evaluation XIX. Literary History V. The two are distinct activities: one is creative, an art j the other, if not precisely a science, is a species of knowledge or of learning.

There have been attempts, of course, to obliterate this distinction. For instance, it has been argued that one cannot understand literature unless one writes it, that one cannot and should not study Pope without trying his own hand at heroic couplets or an Elizabethan drama without himself writing a drama in blank verse. He must translate his experience of literature into intellectual terms, assimilate it to a coherent scheme which must be rational if it is to be knowledge.

It may be true that the subject matter of his study is irrational or at least contains strongly unrational elements ; but he will not be therefore in any other position than the historian of painting or the musicologist or, for that matter, the sociologist or the anatomist.

Clearly, some difficult problems are raised by this relationship. The solutions proposed have been various. Some theorists would simply deny that literary study is knowledge and advise a "second creation," with results which to most of us seem futile today — Pater's description of Mona Lisa or the florid passages in Symonds or Symons.

Such "creative criticism" has usually meant a needless duplication or, at most, the translation of one work of art into another, usually inferior. Other theorists draw rather different skeptical conclusions from our contrast between literature and its study: literature, they argue, cannot be "stud- ied" at all. We can only read, enjoy, appreciate it. Such skepticism is actually much more widespread than one might suppose. In practice, it shows itself in a stress on environ- mental "facts" and in the disparagement of all attempts to go beyond them.

Appreciation, taste, enthusiasm are left to the private indulgence as an inevitable, though deplorable, escape from the austerity of sound scholarship. But such a dichotomy into "scholarship" and "appreciation" makes no provision at all for the true study of literature, at once "literary" and "systematic. Can it be done? And how can it be done? One answer has been: it can be done with the methods developed by the natural sciences, which need only be trans- ferred to the study of literature.

Several kinds of such transfer can be distinguished. One is the attempt to emulate the general scientific ideals of objectivity, impersonality, and certainty, an attempt which on the whole supports the collecting of neutral facts.

Another is the effort to imitate the methods of natural science through the study of causal antecedents and origins - y in practice, this "genetic method" justifies the tracing of any kind of relationship as long as it is possible on chronological grounds. Applied more rigidly, scientific causality is used to explain lit- erary phenomena by the assignment of determining causes to economic, social, and political conditions.

Again, there is the introduction of the quantitative methods appropriately used in some sciences, i. And finally there is the attempt to use biological concepts in the tracing of the evo- lution of literature. Sometimes scientific methods have proved their value within a strictly limited area, or with a limited technique such as the use of statistics in certain methods of textual criticism.

But most promoters of this scientific invasion into literary study have either confessed failure and ended with skepticism or have com- forted themselves with delusions concerning the future successes of the scientific method. Thus, I. Richards used to refer to the future triumphs of neurology as insuring the solutions of all literary problems.

They cannot be dismissed too facilelyj and there is, no doubt, a large field in which the two methodologies contact or even over- lap. Such fundamental methods as induction and deduction, analysis, synthesis, and comparison are common to all types of systematic knowledge.

But, patently, the other solution com- mends itself : literary scholarship has its own valid methods which are not always those of the natural sciences but are nevertheless intellectual methods. Only a very narrow conception of truth can exclude the achievements of the humanities from the realm of knowledge. Long before modern scientific development, phi- losophy, history, jurisprudence, theology, and even philology had worked out valid methods of knowing.

Their achievements may have become obscured by the theoretical and practical tri- umphs of the modern physical sciences j but they are nevertheless real and permanent and can, sometimes with some modifications, easily be resuscitated or renovated. It should be simply recog- nized that there is this difference between the methods and aims of the natural sciences and the humanities. How to define this difference is a complex problem. As early as , Wilhelm Dilthey worked out the distinction between the methods of natural science and those of history in terms of a contrast between explanation and comprehension.

This process of understanding is necessarily individual and even sub- jective. A year later, Wilhelm Windelband, the well-known historian of philosophy, also attacked the view that the historical sciences should imitate the methods of the natural sciences. This view was elaborated and somewhat modified by Heinrich Rickert, who drew a line not so much between generalizing and individ- ualizing methods as between the sciences of nature and the sciences of culture.

Individuals, however, can be discovered and comprehended only in reference to some scheme of values, which is merely another name for culture. In 6 Theory of Literature France, A. Xenopol distinguished between the natural sciences as occupied with the "facts of repetition" and history as occupied with the "facts of succession.

Why do we study Shakespeare? It is clear we are not primarily interested in what he has in common with all men, for we could then as well study any other man, nor are we interested in what he has in common with all Englishmen, all men of the Renaissance, all Eliza- bethans, all poets, all dramatists, or even all Elizabethan drama- tists, because in that case we might just as well study Dekker or Heywood.

We want rather to discover what is peculiarly Shake- speare's, what makes Shakespeare Shakespeare 5 and this is ob- viously a problem of individuality and value. Even in studying a period or movement or one specific national literature, the lit- erary student will be interested in it as an individuality with characteristic features and qualities which set it off from other similar groupings. The case for individuality can be supported also by another argument: attempts to find general laws in literature have always failed.

Cazamian's so-called law of English literature, the "oscillation of the rhythm of the English national mind" be- tween two poles, sentiment and intellect accompanied by the further assertion that these oscillations become speedier the nearer we approach the present age , is either trivial or false.

It breaks down completely in its application to the Victorian age. While physics may see its highest triumphs in some general theory reducing to a formula electricity and heat, gravitation and light, no general law can be assumed to achieve the purpose of literary study: the more general, the more abstract and hence Literature and Literary Study 7 empty it will seem; the more the concrete object of the work of art will elude our grasp.

There are thus two extreme solutions to our problem.

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Its contents were based on their shared understandings of literature. After defining various aspects and relationships of literature in general, Wellek and Warren divide analysis of literature based on two approaches: extrinsic, relating to factors outside a work such as the author and society, and intrinsic, relating to factors within such as rhythm and meter. They stress the need to focus on the intrinsic elements of a work as the best way to truly understand it. In doing so they adapt the phenomenology used by Roman Ingarden. Published by Harcourt, Brace, and Company in December , Theory of Literature received mixed reviews from the academic community. It was used to teach literary theory beginning soon after publication and remained in common use into the s. Its success has been credited as introducing European literary scholarship into the US and crystallizing a movement towards intrinsic literary criticism.


THEORY. OF. LITERATURE. By RENE WELLEK and AUSTIN WARREN. HARCOURT But we have sought to unite "poetics" (or literary theory) and. "​criticism".


Rene Wellek, Austin Warren - Theory Of Literature (1949, 1954, Jonathan Cape)

Sign in Create an account. Syntax Advanced Search. Definition of Literature in Aesthetics. Fiction in Aesthetics. Literary Interpretation in Aesthetics.

Theory of Literature [by] René Wellek and Austin Warren

Its contents were based on their shared understandings of literature. After defining various aspects and relationships of literature in general, Wellek and Warren divide analysis of literature based on two approaches: extrinsic, relating to factors outside a work such as the author and society, and intrinsic, relating to factors within such as rhythm and meter.

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