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Ca. 427-347 BC

Whitehead all of
Western Philosophy
is but a footnote to
Born in Athens,
student of
Socrates, founded
an Academy
He systematically
started the study of
literary theory and

Ion, Crito

Issues in
philosophy and
literature: truth,
reality, structure
of society, nature
and relations of
(how we know
what we know),
ethics, morality

Platos doctrine
doctrine of essences, ideas, forms
Ultimate reality is spiritual
Without the existence of The Ideal Form (spiritual

realm), the physical form (a shadowy replica) could

not exist
Plato and his students value the art of reason and
abstraction(deduction) as opposed to the
presentational mode for discovering truth (use of
Iliad and Odyssey as a narrative framework or
Favored philosophical inquiry and abstract thinking

Plato on Literature and Poets

Poets merely imitate an imitation - two steps

removed from reality

Poetry is an inferior craft who marries an inferior
and has an inferior offspring three steps removed
from reality


The Ideal
Trees (Joyce Kilmer)
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as the tree...

A poem about
trees = art

poets (imitators of reality) cannot be trusted

art produces nothing but copy of a copy
poets produce their art irrationally, relying purely

on intuition, rather than reason (cave story)

For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing,
and there is no invention in him until he has been
inspired and is out of his senses, and then the mind
is no longer in him.
Poets are both untrustworthy and damned, their
works can no longer be the basis of Greek morality
or ethics (Iliad sets a bad example and may lead
the people to wickedness and immorality)
Poets should be banished.

Poets are needed for crafts that celebrate the

victors of the state

Poets who are in themselves good and also
honorable in the state
Poetry in Platos state: to sing the praises of loyal
Poets must be supporters of the state or be
banished; their works, being imitations, need
rigorous censorship
The Academy: founded a complex theory of literary
criticism that initiated ongoing debate on the value,
nature, and worth of the artist and literature.

Ang Babaeng Kumain NG asawa

(Rio Alma)

Unay kinain niya ang dila ng asawa

Sapagkat binukalan ng tamis at aliw.
Dinukot niya pagkaraan ang mga mata
Sapagkat banyaga ang sulyap at ningning.
Tinistis niya pagkuwan ang dibdib at bungo
At sinimsim ang lihim ng pusot utak;
Itinumis din niya ang kulo ng bitukat dugo
At iginarapon ang nanliit na bayag

Inihuli niyang lagariin ang paat bisig

Para maipalaman sa madaliang almusalKailangan niya lagi ang lakas at talas ng isip
Para maharap ang hirap sa labas ng bahay.
Kayat di kataka-takang ang asawang lumpo
Sa duloy kainin nang buo pati anino.

(384-322 BC)

Pupil of Plato,
founded the

Reveled in the
physical world;
scientific method of

Focus:elements or
characteristics or
structure of art

Plato: content
morality of

wrote Poetics

The cornerstone of
Western Literary

agrees with Plato that art is a form of imitation because
people are imitative creatures who enjoy imitating.
Unlike Plato, he does not consider that the pleasure of
imitation can undermine society.
He posits that poetry is more universal, more general. It
is the duty of the poet to relate not what happened but
what may happen according to the law of probability or
Poets are not historians. They present things (imitation of
the ideal form) as they should be.
Not all imitations are of noble actions: comedy is an
imitation of inferior men.

oPoetics = Things that are made or crafted; the

cornerstone of western lit criticism

general principles of tragedy: definition of tragedy,
components of a literary work , etc
Tragedy is, then, an imitation of a noble and complete
action, having the proper magnitude; it employs
language that has been artistically enhanced by each
of the kinds of linguistic adornment, applied separately
in the various parts of the play; it is presented in
dramatic, not narrative form, and achieves, through the
representation of pitiable and fearful incidents, the
catharsis of such pitiable an fearful incidents.

tragedy or work of art is an imitation of

nature that reflects a higher form of art

exhibiting noble characters and noble deeds,
the act of imitation itself giving us pleasure.
Art possesses form; that is, tragedy, unlike

life, has a beginning, a middle and an end,

with each part being related to every other
part. A tragedy, then, is an organic whole
with all its parts interrelated.

In tragedy, concern for form must be applied to

the characters (hamartia(flaw)=tragic hero)as

well as to the structure of the play. (tragic hero,
flaw, tragic end)
tragedy must have emotional effect on its

audience = catharsis (thru pity and fear)

The universal, not the particular should be

stressed, for unlike history, which deals with what

happened, poetry deals with what could happen,
and is therefore closer to perfection or truth

the poet must give close attention to diction or language

itself, be it in verse, prose or song, but ultimately, it is the

thoughts expressed through language that are of utmost
He did not touch on the didactic value of poetry
In summary
The issue of poetic imitation, the connection between art

and reality, the distinction between genres as well as high

and low art, the study of grammar and language, the
psychological and moral effects of literature, the nature and
function of the audience, the structure (organic whole) and
rules of drama, and the notions of plot (unified), narrative
and character

Richard Cory
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim. 4
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
'Good-morning,' and he glittered when he walked. 8
And he was rich - yes, richer than a king And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place .12
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head. 16
Edwin Arlington Robinson

Classical Latin Criticism

Quintus Horatius

(65-8 BC)

The official canon

of literary taste in
the Middle Ages,

Ars Poetica/ The

Art of Poetry
Standards of
good or proper

poets must imitate other poets, particularly of the

past (vs Platos imitation of nature)

A good writer writes about traditional subjects in
novel ways
The poet should avoid all extremes in subject matter,
word choice ( a language that lives) , vocabulary and
style (follow the examples of Greek and Roman
authors Virgil, Homer)
Writers should avoid appearing ridiculous, not
attempting to be a new Virgil or Homer

Principle of decorum: proper relationship between

form and content expression and thought, style

and subject matter, diction and character
The principal fountainhead of writing correctly is
Poetry must be based on knowledge and must
exhibit a high degree of realism. Poetry as the
repository of social and religious wisdom
Literatures aim: dulce et utile, sweet and useful
The best writings both teach and delight
Thus, writers must understand their audience (to
be instructed or amused)
The greatest reward: adulation of the public

Art is false

Art is imitation

Art is realistic
Real men and

Poets extol the

deeds of

Poets present
things as they
should be

Art is socially
useful: Poets
teach and

Subject matter
of poetry and
its effects on
the readers

Literary form/

How the poet

crafts his work

(1st cent A.D.)

Greek or
On the

What is a
Focus: author,
the work,

Sublimity is a kind of eminence or

excellence of discourse. It is the source of

the distinction of the very greatest poets
and prose writers and the means by which
they have given eternal life to their own

in a consummate excellence and distinction of
language, and...this alone gave to the greatest poets
and historians their pre-eminence....For the effect of
genius is not to persuade the audience but rather to
transport them out of themselves.
what inspires wonder casts a spell upon us and is
always superior to what is merely convincing and

Homer: Nature has appointed us men to be no base or

ignoble animals...for she implants in our souls the

unconquerable love of whatever is elevated and more
divine than we.
When our intellects, our emotions, and our wills
harmoniously respond to a given work, we know we
have been touched by the sublime.

We can control reasoning but the sublime exerts

a power which we cannot resist

Question: Does art come from innate genius or

from conscious application of methodology and

Nature is indeed the prime cause of all
production but that the operations of genius
cannot be wholly random and unsystematic, and
need the good judgment supplied by the rules of

Faults of Artists who Fail to reach Grandeur

Tumidity a poet aims too high, ending into
folly(bombastic and overblown) instead of ecstasy; results
from trying to outdo the sublime

puerility the academic attitude, where overelaboration , ends in frigid failure

parenthyrson emotionally misplaced and pointless

where none is needed or unrestrained where restraint
is required

How can the poet avoid these faults?

First: a clear knowledge and appreciation of what is truly sublime (fruit of ripe
The true sublime elevates us so that we are uplifted with a sense of proud
possession, we are filled with joyful pride, as if we had ourselves produced the
very thing we heard
Greatness of literature: emotional effect
Five genuine sources of the sublime: 1. the command of full-blooded or robust
ideas (grandeur of thought); 2. the inspiration of vehement emotion; 3. the proper
construction of figures both figures of thought and figures of speech; 4. nobility of
phrase which includes diction and use of metaphor; 5. the general effect of dignity
and elevation

The sublime is associated with dramatic action rather than

narrative; rooted firmly in reality as opposed to romance

Natural genius, imitation of the classicists and imagination

His recognition of the power of language

founded on grandeur of thought and the skillful

use of figuresto attain sublimity thereby
transforming our perception of the world
Sublime embodies the highest purpose of
humankind: to strive beyond our own human
nature toward the divine, on the wings of
unconquerable passion.
Sublimity lifts men near the mighty mind of

Middle Ages

Early Middle

St. Augustine

Only the
scriptures are
truly liberating

Later Middle

St. Thomas

of signs

Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri

Born in
Florence, Italy

The Divine


Letter to Can
Grande della

Focus: Proper
language of

De Vulgari

De Vulgari Eloquentia (Eloquence in the

Vernacular Tongue)- he defended the use

of the vernacular Italian as appropriate for
the writing of poetry
Allegory is integral to the work of Dante
Alighieri. Arguably the greatest poet of the
Western world has produced.

The faculties of speech and reason distinguish man

from animals
It is necessary that the human race should have
some sign, at once rational and sensible, for the
intercommunication of its thoughts
Language(sound and meaning) is the external
instrument of thought rather than determining the
process of thought.
Vernacular: natural speech acquired when we were
children, through the practice of imitation without
following rules
Grammar: secondary speech, which arises form the

In Letter to Can Grande della Scala

the vernacular, the language spoken by the people, is an

appropriate and beautiful language for writing, an

excellent and acceptable vehicle for works of literature
he notes the multiple levels of interpretation or symbolic

meaning in the Divine Comedy

praises lyric poem
Because of him, literature found an increasing number of


In Letter to Can Grande della Scala

Dante dedicates his Divine Comedy to his
patron and explains the allegorical structure of his
His text is polysemous, that is, having several
senses. The literal sense necessarily signifies
beyond itself to higher senses which complete it.
The non-literal senses, although they are called
by various names (allegorical, moral, anagogical
or beyond the senses) may all be called
allegorical, since they are all different from the
literal or historical.

In Letter to Can Grande della Scala

Hence, the structure of allegory is dualistic:

literal sense as being the narrative of this

world and allegorical sense as the spiritual
Dante views the end or ultimate aim of the
work as spiritual, namely to lead souls from
a state of sin and misery to a state of


First great English

Sir Philip Sidney
An Apology for Poetry
(Defense of Poetry)

Eclectic: theories of
Horace, Aristotle

the epitome of the

criticism of the Italian
Renaissance and the
first influential piece
of literary criticism in
English history

Poesy therefore is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth

it in his word mimesis, that is to say, a representing, a

counterfeiting, or figuring forth.
He adds (Horatian note), poesys chief end: to teach and
Like Aristotle, he values poetry over history, law, philosophy,
and adds that above all arts and sciences, poetry embodies
The different literary genres are instructive, but poetry excels
He insists on unity of action, time and place to Aristotelian
Poetry is not a mindless or even immoral activity.
he curses those who are possessed of so earth-creeping
mind, that it cannot lift itself up, to look to the sky of poetry.
Sidney elevates poetry to a sacred status

The art of poetry, for Sidney, is the highest form of art

(knowledge) because it attempts to look at the IDEAL,

and therefore ascends the flaws of nature. His entire text
is an exaltation on poetry, justified, as previously noted, by
a historical development of the form and comparison to
the other forms of art.
It is important to take note of Sidneys methodology in this
text An Apology for Poetry (Defense of Poetry). He
establishes a historical background of poetry and poetic
accomplishments, while linking mankinds achievements
to the production of creative work.

Deconstructs the three most important amputations laid to the poor poets:

1. that there being many other more fruitful

knowledges, a man might better spend his time in them

than in this.
.for if it be, as I affirm, that no learning is so good as
that which teacheth and moveth to virtue, and that none
can both teach and move thereto so much as poetry, then
is the conclusion manifest that ink and paper cannot be to
a more profitable purpose employed. And certainly,
though a man should grant their first assumption, it should
follow (methinks) very unwillingly, that good is not good
because better is better. But I still and utterly deny that
there is sprung out of earth a more fruitful knowledge.

Deconstructs the three most important imputations laid to the poor poets:

2. that it is the mother of lies.

.I think truly, that of all writers under the sun

the poet is the least liar, and, though he would, as

a poet can scarcely be a liar. he nothing
affirms, and therefore never lieth.

Deconstructs the three most important imputations laid to the poor poets:

3. that it is the nurse of abuse, infecting us with many

pestilent desires, with a sirens sweetness drawing the

mind to the serpents tail of sinful fancy.
.Basically, in Sidneys point of view, ALL forms of

knowledge can be abused. The accusation is general, and

poetry really shouldnt be singled out for its faults, or for
the abusers among the number of writers that claim to
be poets. Aka, dont kill the form for the messenger.


English poet
laureate, dramatist,

John Dryden


An Essay of
Dramatic Poesy

the improvement,
perhaps the
completion of our
meter, the refinement
of our language, and
much of the
correctness of our
sentiments S.
S. Johnson: He is
the father of English

John Dryden

English poet John Dryden

wrote poetry, prose, drama,
and satire that influenced
fellow writers in the latter
part of the 17th century and
well into the next. Drydens
achievements included
refining the heroic couplet
poetic form and establishing
a clear, precise prose
standard. Dryden wrote Mac
Flecknoe (1682) to satirize
Thomas Shadwell, a rival
poet who sought to equal
Drydens preeminent stature
(excerpt recited by an

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy

When: a naval battle between the

English and the Dutch

What: discussion on the aesthetic

theory of Renaissance and Neoclassicist traditions (Platonic and

Aristotelian debate)
Who: four men floating down a barge

on the Thames

First Topic: art as an imitation ( imitation of nature or

of classical authors such as Homer)

Second Topic: Aristotelian unity of time, place and
action in drama (Drama should unquestionably keep
the three unities)
Other concerns:
The language or diction of a play ( emphasis:proper speech)
Issues of decorum (it would be quite improper to show

violent scenes onstage)

The differences between English and French theaters
(English drama wins for its diversity, its use of the stage, and
Shakespearean tradition)
the value of rhymed as opposed to blank verse (rhymed
verse wins)
POINTS: clarity, politesse , order, decorum, elegance,
cleverness, and wit in literary works

English, literary
voice of the neoclassical period



The literary
pope of

The Rape of the

Lockmockheroic poem
Essay on
written in verse

Alexander Pope
English poet Alexander Pope is known
for the brilliant verse and stinging
satire he wrote during the early and
mid-18th century. Pope emulated the
classical style of the poets of antiquity
and further developed the poetic form
known as the heroic couplet. He first
earned fame with the work An Essay
on Criticism (1711), in which he wrote
the now famous line, To err is human,
to forgive divine.
Culver Pictures

Microsoft Encarta 2009.

1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All
rights reserved.

The heroic couplet, two rhyming iambic

pentameter lines, is also called a closed couplet
because the meaning and the grammatical
structure are complete within two lines. John
Dryden and Alexander Pope employed this form
with great effect, as for example, in Pope's Essay
on Criticism (Part I, 68-69):
First follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the same.

the literary age is the classical age (Homer, Horace, Longinus=

discoverers of the rules and laws of a harmonious and ordered

It is the critic and poets task first to know and then copy these
authors and not nature, for to copy nature is to copy them
The good poet possesses natural genius coupled with a
knowledge of the classics and an understanding of the rules of
such knowledge should be tempered with grace and politeness
Without good and breeding, truth is disapproved/ That only
makes superior sense beloved.
Next to natural genius and good breeding, the critic/poet must
then follow rules and established traditions of the ancients

poetic diction, the establishment of heroic couplets as a

standard verse, personification of abstract ideas; emotional

outbreaks and free verse were considered unrefined

poetry is governed by rules, restraint, and good taste.

It seeks to reaffirm truths or absolutes already discovered by

classical writers.
Critics task: to validate and maintain classical values in the

ever-shifting winds of cultural change; thus, the critic becomes

the custodian and defender of good taste and cultural values
Popes theory: mimetic (imitation) and rhetoric (patterns of

18th Century

19th century

Valued reason and order

The world is like a
machine with all its parts
operating harmoniously
The cities housed the
centers of art and
literature and set the
standards of good taste
for the rationalistic mind
Truth could be
discovered through
empirical and rationalistic

emphasized intuition as
a guide to truth
The world was a living
organism that was
always growing and
eternally becoming
The rural setting as the
place where people learn
about and discover their
inner selves
Truth could be
discovered by tapping
into the core of our


William Wordsworth

Lyrical Ballads, with

Samuel Taylor

English writer

Collection of
poems that
heralded British
A new vision of
poetry and the
beginnings of
radical change in
literary theory

Most important contribution to literary criticism is the

controversial: Preface to Lyrical Ballads became classic

statements of Romantic aesthetic doctrine
Return to REALISM, a descent of poetic language from its
stylized status, from its self- created world of metaphorical
expression and artificial diction to the language actually
used by human beings in common life especially rustic
The imaginary world created by the poet must resemble
the real world.
Views poetry as a meditated craft

In Lyrical ballads
his purpose: to choose incidents and situations from

common life, and...describe them in language really used

by men in situations... The manner in which we associate
ideas in a state of excitement.
Subject and Language of poetry
Common men and women will people his poetry, not

kings, queens and aristocrats, for in humble and rustic

life the poet finds that the essential passions of the heart
find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are
less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more
emphatic language

Still on language of poetry

language really used by people everyday

speech, not inflated poetic diction of heroic couplets

(two iambic pentameters), the complicated rhyme
schemes, and the convoluted figures of speech
True ease in writings comes from art, not chance
As those move easiest who have learned to dance
The time shall come, when, free as seas or wind
Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind
Whole nations enter with each swelling tide
And seas but join the regions they divide

Wordsworth redefines poetry

For all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful

Highlights poetrys emotional quality: Imagination, not reason or

disciplined thought, becomes poetrys core

The Poet: he is a man speaking to men: a man endowed with

more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has

a greater knowledge of human nature and more comprehensive
soul than are supposed to be common among mankind
And the poet has acquired a greater readiness and power in

expressing what he thinks and feels, especially those thoughts

and feelings which by his own choice, or from the structure of his
own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement
=express his/her own individualism in poetry

the spontaneous overflow of powerful

feelings...its origin from emotions recollected in

tranquility- the poet crafts a poem by
internalizing a scene, circumstance or happening
and recollects that occasion with its
accompanying emotions at a later time when the
artist can shape that remembrance into words
Intuition, not reason reigns.

The reader: he/she relies on his own feelings and

imagination as he/she grapples with the same emotions

the poet felt
Through poetry, the poet and the reader share emotions.

(Expressive art)
TRUTH: emotion, individualism, intuition

Victorian Era
The rise of reason, science and historical

determinism began to supplant romantic

Influential: Charles Darwin The Origin of
the Species = Humankind was
Sciencehad provided us with the key to
our past, present and future

Positivism, system of philosophy

based on experience and empirical
knowledge of natural phenomena, in
which metaphysics and theology are
regarded as inadequate and imperfect
systems of knowledge.
Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Adolphe Taine

historian and
literary critic
The History of

approach to
literary analysis

a text is like a fossil shell that naturally

contains the likeness of its inhabiter,

the author
to study only the text without

considering the author and his inner

psyche is an incomplete analysis
An investigation of both the text and

the author would result in an accurate

understanding of the literary text.

What are the environmental causes that joined in the

creation of the text?

Three Influences: race, milieu, moment
Race: authors of the same race share particular

intellectual beliefs, emotions and ways of understanding

Milieu or surroundings: People respond differently to life
Moment/ epoch: the time period in which the text was
written- it will reveal the dominant ideas or worldview held
by people at that particular time.
The text becomes a literary object that can be dissected
to discover its meaning.
No text is written in a vacuum, but each is a result of its

William Henley Invictus

John Milton On His
Edgar Allan Poe Annabel

founding figures of
modern English
Matthew Arnold (18221888)

The Study of Poetry,

The Function of
Criticism at the Present
Time, Culture and

Matthew Arnold
Arnolds literary criticism is the problem of living adequately

in late industrial society.

Arnolds world view is deeply humanist, and he writes in the
tradition of a humanism
He sees the human being in industrial society as
mechanized, as wholly given to external pursuits, as
stunted in his spiritual and moral sensibility.
Arnold was somewhat obsessed with the narrow moralism
mercantilism of the bourgeoisie, whom he termed
philistines. In his essay My Countrymen Arnold affirms:
Philistinism is . . . characteristic of . . . the middle class . . .
which has . . . risen into such preponderating importance of
late years, and . . . governs the country.

In The Function of Criticism

Concerned to counteract the philistinism of the world as

defined by the English bourgeoisie, enshrined in the

restrictive obsession of this class with practicality, utility,
and reason
He acknowledges that the critical faculty is lower than the
inventive, and that the exercise of the creative power . . .
is the highest function of man, he suggests that it is an
atmosphere of appropriate criticism that creates the
conditions in which creative genius can be realized
task of criticism to establish an
order of ideas and to make the best ideas prevail. It is
the business of the critical power in all branches of
knowledge, theology, philosophy, history, art, science, to
see the object as in itself it really is

In The Function of Criticism

Criticism must be disinterested by keeping aloof from the

practical view of things and by following the law of its own

nature, which is to be a free play of the mind on all subjects
which it touches.
Criticism must attempt to know the best that is known and
thought in the world, and by in turn making this known, to
create a current of true and fresh ideas . . . but its business
is to do no more
Criticism must be entirely independent of all interests. And
its purpose? To lead man towards perfection, by making
his mind dwell upon what is excellent in itself, and the
absolute beauty and fitness of things
Criticism should embrace the Indian virtue of detachment,
the Hindu ideal of ascetic renunciation of all worldly

In Culture and Anarchy

Arnold both redefines culture and affirms the need for it

in a modern industrial society devoted to mechanism and

profit. He calls culture a study of perfection. It moves by
the force, not merely or primarily of the scientific passion
for pure knowledge, but also of the moral and social
passion for doing good
Culture, then, has an intellectual and an ethical
component, and just as Arnold sees the time as ripe for
true criticism, so he sees a historical opportunity opening
for culture to be of service, culture which believes in
making reason and the will of God prevail

In The Study of Poetry

insists on the social and cultural functions of

literature, its ability to civilize and to cultivate

morality, as well as its providing a bulwark against
the mechanistic excesses of modern civilization.
It is to poetry that we must turn, not merely for
spiritual and emotional support and consolation
but to interpret life for us.
He defines poetry as a criticism of life.
the best poetry is of a higher truth and
Poetrys high function is actually to replace religion
and philosophy

Born in New York

Henry James
The Art of Fiction

a well-articulated
theory of the novel
in English literature

In The Art of Fiction

a novel is in its broadest definition, a personal impression

of life: that, to begin with, constitutes its value, which is

greater or less according to the intensity of the impression.
the only obligation to which in advance, we may hold a
novel, without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is
that it be interesting
a text must be realistic, a representation of life as it is and
one that is recognizable to its readers (Realism- to offer a
truthful, accurate, objective representation of the real world)
Good writers write about the stuff of life (facts or pictures of
The work should be organic
The author should show characters, actions and emotions,
not tell about them (point of view) (more realistic)