Wednesday, March 4, 2009

History and Structure

In Literary Theory this week, I found it interesting that Eagleton talked about how New Criticism "left aside the broader, more structural aspects of literature", right off the bat. And specifically mentioned "literary history" as one of those aspects missing. This feels like he is continuing to give us the "go round" on what literature is or could possibly be. How he can just throw in "rules" that seem so obvious, but aren't always considered, drives me crazy. Although I do agree with what he had stated on page 79, what if someone else doesn't?

This made me think of a couple of quotes from Frye. "When we analyse literature, we are speaking of literature; when we evaluate it, we are speaking of ourselves" (80). This seems like what we have been saying all along. Everyone evaluates according to their own mind, experiences and thought processes, which is why we cannot directly define it.

"All the system ever does is reshuffle its symbolic units in relation to each other, rather than in relation to any kind of reality outside of it." (80)- This relates to the "fundamental human desires (80) that prove again and again that literature to each person is what they want to believe it to be. Literature takes people to certain places and worlds they want to put themselves in, no matter the history of the author (or anything else, for that matter) besides the actual literature itself. Because we need to pay attention to "literary history" according to Eagleton, we need to remember that our own "history" is always changing and being added to, which means only the same can be happening with literary history, someone or something is always changing things about it, no matter what we want or think should be happening. So even if we did have a set definition for literature I'm sure it would change within a few days, hours or even minutes, because something new would come along.

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