Derives (FICTION) (French Edition)


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O brave new world, That has such people in't. Translations of the title often allude to similar expressions used in domestic works of literature: He was a contributor to Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines, and had published a collection of his poetry The Burning Wheel , and four successful satirical novels: Brave New World was Huxley's fifth novel and first dystopian work. Huxley said that Brave New World was inspired by the utopian novels of H. He wrote in a letter to Mrs.

Arthur Goldsmith, an American acquaintance, that he had "been having a little fun pulling the leg of H. Wells", but then he "got caught up in the excitement of [his] own ideas. Huxley referred to Brave New World as a "negative utopia", somewhat influenced by Wells's own The Sleeper Awakes dealing with subjects like corporate tyranny and behavioural conditioning and the works of D. The events of the Depression in Britain in , with its mass unemployment and the abandonment of the gold currency standard, persuaded Huxley to assert that stability was the "primal and ultimate need" if civilisation was to survive the present crisis.

Shortly before writing the novel, Huxley visited Mond's technologically advanced plant near Billingham , north east England, and it made a great impression on him. Huxley used the setting and characters in his science fiction novel to express widely held opinions, particularly the fear of losing individual identity in the fast-paced world of the future. Not only was Huxley outraged by the culture of youth, commercial cheeriness and sexual promiscuity, and the inward-looking nature of many Americans, [16] he had also found the book My Life and Work by Henry Ford on the boat to America, and he saw the book's principles applied in everything he encountered after leaving San Francisco.

The novel opens in the World State city of London in AF After Ford AD in the Gregorian calendar , where citizens are engineered through artificial wombs and childhood indoctrination programmes into predetermined classes or castes based on intelligence and labour. Lenina Crowne, a hatchery worker, is popular and sexually desirable, but Bernard Marx, a psychologist, is not.

Critical theories

He is shorter in stature than the average member of his high caste, which gives him an inferiority complex. His work with sleep-learning allows him to understand, and disapprove of, his society's methods of keeping its citizens peaceful, which includes their constant consumption of a soothing, happiness-producing drug called soma. Courting disaster, Bernard is vocal and arrogant about his criticisms, and his boss contemplates exiling him to Iceland because of his nonconformity.

His only friend is Helmholtz Watson, a gifted writer who finds it difficult to use his talents creatively in their pain-free society. Bernard takes a holiday with Lenina outside the World State to a Savage Reservation in New Mexico , in which the two observe natural-born people, disease, the aging process, other languages, and religious lifestyles for the first time.

The culture of the village folk resembles the contemporary Native American groups of the region, descendants of the Anasazi , including the Puebloan peoples of Acoma , Laguna and Zuni. Bernard and Lenina witness a violent public ritual and then encounter Linda, a woman originally from the World State who is living on the reservation with her son John, now a young man. She, too, visited the reservation on a holiday many years ago, but became separated from her group and was left behind.

She had meanwhile become pregnant by a fellow-holidaymaker who is revealed to be Bernard's boss, the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning. She did not try to return to the World State, because of her shame at her pregnancy. Despite spending his whole life in the reservation, John has never been accepted by the villagers, and his and Linda's lives have been hard and unpleasant. Ostracised by the villagers, John is able to articulate his feelings only in terms of Shakespearean drama, especially the tragedies of Othello , Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.

Linda now wants to return to London, and John, too, wants to see this "brave new world". Bernard sees an opportunity to thwart plans to exile him, and gets permission to take Linda and John back. On their return to London, John meets the Director and calls him his "father", a vulgarity which causes a roar of laughter. The humiliated Director resigns in shame before he can follow through with exiling Bernard. Bernard, as "custodian" of the "savage" John who is now treated as a celebrity, is fawned on by the highest members of society and revels in attention he once scorned.

Bernard's popularity is fleeting, though, and he becomes envious that John only really bonds with the literary-minded Helmholtz. Considered hideous and friendless, Linda spends all her time using soma , while John refuses to attend social events organised by Bernard, appalled by what he perceives to be an empty society. Lenina and John are physically attracted to each other, but John's view of courtship and romance, based on Shakespeare's writings, is utterly incompatible with Lenina's freewheeling attitude to sex. She tries to seduce him, but he attacks her, before suddenly being informed that his mother is on her deathbed.

He rushes to Linda's bedside, causing a scandal, as this is not the "correct" attitude to death. Some children who enter the ward for "death-conditioning" come across as disrespectful to John until he attacks one physically. He then tries to break up a distribution of soma to a lower-caste group, telling them that he is freeing them.

Helmholtz and Bernard rush in to stop the ensuing riot, which the police quell by spraying soma vapor into the crowd. Bernard, Helmholtz, and John are all brought before Mustapha Mond, the "Resident World Controller for Western Europe", who tells Bernard and Helmholtz that they are to be exiled to islands for antisocial activity. Bernard pleads for a second chance, but Helmholtz welcomes the opportunity to be a true individual, and chooses the Falkland Islands as his destination, believing that their bad weather will inspire his writing. Mond tells Bernard that exile is actually a reward.

The islands are full of the most interesting people in the world, individuals who did not fit into the social model of the World State. Mond outlines for John the events that led to the present society and his arguments for a caste system and social control. John rejects Mond's arguments, and Mond sums up John's views by claiming that John demands "the right to be unhappy".

John asks if he may go to the islands as well, but Mond refuses, saying he wishes to see what happens to John next. Jaded with his new life, John moves to an abandoned hilltop tower, near the village of Puttenham , where he intends to adopt a solitary ascetic lifestyle in order to purify himself of civilization, practising self-flagellation. This soon draws reporters and eventually hundreds of amazed sightseers, hoping to witness his bizarre behaviour; one of them is implied to be Lenina. At the sight of the woman he both adores and loathes, John attacks her with his whip.

The onlookers are wildly aroused by the display and John is caught up in the crowd's soma -fueled frenzy. The next morning, he remembers the previous night's events and is stricken with remorse. Onlookers and journalists who arrive that evening discover John dead, having hanged himself. Although Bernard is an Alpha-Plus the upper class of the society , he is a misfit. He is unusually short for an Alpha; an alleged accident with alcohol in Bernard's blood-surrogate before his decanting has left him slightly stunted.

Bernard's independence of mind stems more from his inferiority complex and depressive nature than from any depth of philosophical conviction. Unlike his fellow utopians, Bernard is often angry, resentful, and jealous. At times, he is also cowardly and hypocritical. His conditioning is clearly incomplete. He doesn't enjoy communal sports, solidarity services, or promiscuous sex. He doesn't even get much joy out of soma. Bernard is in love with Lenina but he doesn't like her sleeping with other men, even though "everyone belongs to everyone else".

Bernard's triumphant return to utopian civilisation with John the Savage from the Reservation precipitates the downfall of the Director, who had been planning to exile him. Bernard's triumph is short-lived. Success goes to his head. Despite his tearful pleas, he is ultimately banished to an island for his non-conformist behaviour. John — the illicit son of the Director and Linda, born and reared on the Savage Reservation "Malpais" after Linda was unwittingly left behind by her errant lover.


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John "the Savage", as he is often called is an outsider both on the Reservation—where the natives still practice marriage, natural birth, family life and religion—and the ostensibly civilised World State, based on principles of stability and shallow happiness.

He has read nothing but the complete works of William Shakespeare , which he quotes extensively, and, for the most part, aptly, though his allusion to the "Brave New World" Miranda's words in The Tempest takes on a darker and bitterly ironic resonance as the novel unfolds. The admonishments of the men of Malpais taught him to regard his mother as a whore; but he cannot grasp that these were the same men who continually sought her out despite their supposedly sacred pledges of monogamy.

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Because he is unwanted in Malpais, he accepts the invitation to travel back to London and is initially astonished by the comforts of the World State. However, he remains committed to values that exist only in his poetry. He first spurns Lenina for failing to live up to his Shakespearean ideal and then the entire utopian society: After his mother's death, he becomes deeply distressed with grief, surprising onlookers in the hospital.

He then ostracizes himself from society and attempts to purify himself of "sin" desire , but is finally unable to do so and hangs himself in despair. He feels unfulfilled writing endless propaganda doggerel, and the stifling conformism and philistinism of the World State make him restive.

Helmholtz is ultimately exiled to the Falkland Islands —a cold asylum for disaffected Alpha-Plus non-conformists—after reading a heretical poem to his students on the virtues of solitude and helping John destroy some Deltas' rations of soma following Linda's death. Unlike Bernard, he takes his exile in his stride and comes to view it as an opportunity for inspiration in his writing. Lenina is promiscuous and popular but somewhat quirky in her society: She is basically happy and well-conditioned but will use soma to suppress unwelcome emotions, as is expected.

Lenina has a date with Bernard, to whom she feels ambivalently attracted, and she goes to the Reservation with him. On returning to civilization, she tries and fails to seduce John the Savage. John loves and desires Lenina but he is repelled by her forwardness and the prospect of pre-marital sex, rejecting her as an " impudent strumpet ".

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Lenina visits John at the lighthouse but he attacks her with a whip, unwittingly inciting onlookers to do the same. Her exact fate is left unspecified. Sophisticated and good-natured, Mond is an urbane and hyperintelligent advocate of the World State and its ethos of "Community, Identity, Stability". Among the novel's characters, he is uniquely aware of the precise nature of the society he oversees and what it has given up to accomplish its gains.

Mond argues that art, literature, and scientific freedom must be sacrificed to secure the ultimate utilitarian goal of maximising societal happiness. He defends the genetic caste system, behavioural conditioning, and the lack of personal freedom in the World State: Fanny Crowne — Lenina Crowne's friend they have the same last name because only ten thousand last names are in use in the World State. Fanny voices the conventional values of her caste and society, particularly the importance of promiscuity: Fanny then, however, warns Lenina away from a new lover whom she considers undeserving, yet she is ultimately supportive of the young woman's attraction to the savage John.

Henry Foster — One of Lenina's many lovers, he is a perfectly conventional Alpha male, casually discussing Lenina's body with his coworkers. His success with Lenina, and his casual attitude about it, infuriate the jealous Bernard. Henry ultimately proves himself every bit the ideal World State citizen, finding no courage to defend Lenina from John's assaults despite having maintained an uncommonly longstanding sexual relationship with her. Benito Hoover — Another of Lenina's lovers. She remembers that he is particularly hairy when he takes his clothes off.

His plans take an unexpected turn, however, when Bernard returns from the Reservation with Linda see below and John, a child they both realize is actually his. This fact, scandalous and obscene in the World State not because it was extramarital which all sexual acts are but because it was procreative, leads the Director to resign his post in shame.

Despite following her usual precautions, Linda became pregnant with the Director's son during their time together and was therefore unable to return to the World State by the time that she found her way to Malpais. Having been conditioned to the promiscuous social norms of the World State, Linda finds herself at once popular with every man in the pueblo because she is open to all sexual advances and also reviled for the same reason, seen as a whore by the wives of the men who visit her and by the men themselves who come to her nonetheless.

Linda is desperate to return to the World State and to soma , wanting nothing more from her remaining life than comfort until death. He is blond, short, broad-shouldered, and has a booming voice. Darwin Bonaparte — a "big game photographer" i. Darwin Bonaparte is known for two other works: He renews his fame by filming the savage, John, in his newest release "The Savage of Surrey". On the contrary, a scientific exposition might be of great literary value and a pedestrian poem of none at all.

The purest or, at least, the most intense literary form is the lyric poem, and after it comes elegiac, epic, dramatic, narrative, and expository verse. Most theories of literary criticism base themselves on an analysis of poetry , because the aesthetic problems of literature are there presented in their simplest and purest form.

Poetry that fails as literature is not called poetry at all but verse. The Greeks thought of history as one of the seven arts, inspired by a goddess, the muse Clio. The essay was once written deliberately as a piece of literature: Today most essays are written as expository, informative journalism , although there are still essayists in the great tradition who think of themselves as artists. Now, as in the past, some of the greatest essayists are critics of literature, drama, and the arts. Some examples of this biographical literature were written with posterity in mind, others with no thought of their being read by anyone but the writer.

Some are in a highly polished literary style; others, couched in a privately evolved language, win their standing as literature because of their cogency, insight, depth, and scope. Many works of philosophy are classed as literature. The Dialogues of Plato 4th century bc are written with great narrative skill and in the finest prose; the Meditations of the 2nd-century Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius are a collection of apparently random thoughts, and the Greek in which they are written is eccentric. Yet both are classed as literature, while the speculations of other philosophers, ancient and modern, are not.

Certain scientific works endure as literature long after their scientific content has become outdated. This is particularly true of books of natural history, where the element of personal observation is of special importance. Oratory , the art of persuasion, was long considered a great literary art. The oratory of the American Indian , for instance, is famous, while in Classical Greece, Polymnia was the muse sacred to poetry and oratory. Today, however, oratory is more usually thought of as a craft than as an art. Most critics would not admit advertising copywriting, purely commercial fiction, or cinema and television scripts as accepted forms of literary expression, although others would hotly dispute their exclusion.

The test in individual cases would seem to be one of enduring satisfaction and, of course, truth. Indeed, it becomes more and more difficult to categorize literature, for in modern civilization words are everywhere. Man is subject to a continuous flood of communication. Most of it is fugitive, but here and there—in high-level journalism, in television, in the cinema, in commercial fiction, in westerns and detective stories, and in plain, expository prose—some writing, almost by accident, achieves an aesthetic satisfaction, a depth and relevance that entitle it to stand with other examples of the art of literature.

If the early Egyptians or Sumerians had critical theories about the writing of literature, these have not survived. From the time of Classical Greece until the present day, however, Western criticism has been dominated by two opposing theories of the literary art, which might conveniently be called the expressive and constructive theories of composition. The Greek philosopher and scholar Aristotle is the first great representative of the constructive school of thought.

His Poetics the surviving fragment of which is limited to an analysis of tragedy and epic poetry has sometimes been dismissed as a recipe book for the writing of potboilers. Certainly, Aristotle is primarily interested in the theoretical construction of tragedy, much as an architect might analyze the construction of a temple, but he is not exclusively objective and matter of fact.

He does, however, regard the expressive elements in literature as of secondary importance, and the terms he uses to describe them have been open to interpretation and a matter of controversy ever since. Its standards are almost entirely expressive. Where Aristotle is analytical and states general principles, the pseudo-Longinus is more specific and gives many quotations: Thus, at the beginning of Western literary criticism, the controversy already exists.

Is the artist or writer a technician, like a cook or an engineer, who designs and constructs a sort of machine that will elicit an aesthetic response from his audience? Or is he a virtuoso who above all else expresses himself and, because he gives voice to the deepest realities of his own personality, generates a response from his readers because they admit some profound identification with him?

This antithesis endures throughout western European history— Scholasticism versus Humanism , Classicism versus Romanticism , Cubism versus Expressionism —and survives to this day in the common judgment of our contemporary artists and writers. It is surprising how few critics have declared that the antithesis is unreal, that a work of literary or plastic art is at once constructive and expressive, and that it must in fact be both. Critical theories of literature in Asian cultures , 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 c.

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There are no long epic poems in Chinese, no verse novels of the sort written in England by Robert Browning or Alfred Lord Tennyson in the 19th century. In Chinese drama, apart from a very few of the songs, the verse as such is considered doggerel. The versified treatises on astronomy, agriculture, or fishing, of the sort written in Greek and Roman times and during the 18th century in the West, are almost unknown in East Asia. Chinese poetry is almost exclusively lyric, meditative, and elegiac, and rarely does any poem exceed lines—most are little longer than Western sonnets; many are only quatrains.

In Japan this tendency to limit length was carried even further. From the 17th century and onward, the most popular poetic form was the haiku , which has only 17 syllables. This development is relevant to the West because it spotlights the ever-increasing emphasis which has been laid on intensity of communication, a characteristic of Western poetry and of literature generally as it has evolved since the late 19th century.

In East Asia all cultivated people were supposed to be able to write suitable occasional poetry, and so those qualities that distinguished a poem from the mass consequently came to be valued above all others. In some literatures notably classical Chinese, Old Norse, Old Irish , the language employed is quite different from that spoken or used in ordinary writing. This marks off the reading of literature as a special experience. In the Western tradition, it is only in comparatively modern times that literature has been written in the common speech of cultivated men.

The Elizabethans did not talk like Shakespeare nor 18th-century people in the stately prose of Samuel Johnson or Edward Gibbon the so-called Augustan plain style in literature became popular in the late 17th century and flourished throughout the 18th, but it was really a special form of rhetoric with antecedent models in Greek and Latin. The first person to write major works of literature in the ordinary English language of the educated man was Daniel Defoe ?

Robinson Crusoe is much more contemporary in tone than the elaborate prose of 19th-century writers like Thomas De Quincey or Walter Pater. 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. 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. The basic document of the movement is C.

Only a generation later, however, their ideas were somewhat at a discount. However, ambiguity remained a principal shaping tool for the writer and a primary focus in literary criticism. Certainly, William Blake or Thomas Campion , when they were writing their simple lyrics, were unaware of the ambiguities and multiple meanings that future critics would find in them. Nevertheless, language is complex. Words do have overtones; they do stir up complicated reverberations in the mind that are ignored in their dictionary definitions. Great stylists, and most especially great poets, work with at least a half-conscious, or subliminal, awareness of the infinite potentialities of language.

This is one reason why the essence of most poetry and great prose is so resistant to translation quite apart from the radically different sound patterns that are created in other-language versions. The translator must project himself into the mind of the original author; he must transport himself into an entirely different world of relationships between sounds and meanings, and at the same time he must establish an equivalence between one infinitely complex system and another.

Since no two languages are truly equivalent in anything except the simplest terms, this is a most difficult accomplishment. Certain writers are exceptionally difficult to translate. There are no satisfactory English versions, for example, of the Latin of Catullus , the French of Baudelaire , the Russian of Pushkin , or of the majority of Persian and Arabic poetry.

On the other hand, the Germans insist that Shakespeare is better in German than he is in English, a humorous exaggeration perhaps. But again, Shakespeare is resistant to translation into French. His English seems to lack equivalents in that language. The very greatest translations may become classics in their own right, of enduring literary excellence the King James Version of the Bible , appearing in , is an 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. Yet the values of great literature are more fundamental than complexity and subtleties of meaning arising from language alone. Works far removed from contemporary man in time and in cultural background, composed in a variety of languages utterly different from one another in structure, have nevertheless been translated successfully enough to be deeply moving.

The 20th century witnessed an immense mass of the oral literature of preliterate peoples and of the writings of all the great civilizations translated into modern languages. Translations of these literatures often distorted the original stories and, at best, captured only their essence. However, without these translations, such stories would most likely be forever lost.

The craft of literature, indeed, can be said to be in part the manipulation of a structure in time, and so the simplest element of marking time, rhythm , is therefore of basic importance in both poetry and prose. Prosody, which is the science of versification, has for its subject the materials of poetry and is concerned almost entirely with the laws of metre , or rhythm in the narrowest sense. It deals with the patterning of sound in time; the number, length, accent , and pitch of syllables; and the modifications of rhythm by vowels and consonants.

In most poetry, certain basic rhythms are repeated with modifications that is to say, the poem rhymes or scans or both but not in all. Since lyric poetry is either the actual text of song or else is immediately derived from song, it is regular in structure nearly everywhere in the world, although the elements of patterning that go into producing its rhythm may vary. The most important of these elements in English poetry, for example, have been accent, grouping of syllables called feet , number of syllables in the line, and rhyme at the end of a line and sometimes within it.

Other elements such as pitch, resonance , repetition of vowels assonance , repetition of consonants alliteration , and breath pauses cadence have also been of great importance in distinguishing successful poetry from doggerel verse, but on the whole they are not as important as the former, and poets have not always been fully conscious of their use of them.

The rhythms of prose are more complicated, though not necessarily more complex, than those of poetry. The rules of prose patterning are less fixed; patterns evolve and shift indefinitely and are seldom repeated except for special emphasis. So the analysis of prose rhythm is more difficult to make than, at least, the superficial analysis of poetry. The craft of writing involves more than mere rules of prosody.

First, the literary situation has to be established. The reader must be directly related to the work, placed in it—given enough information on who, what, when, or why—so that his attention is caught and held or, on the other hand, he must be deliberately mystified, to the same end. Aristotle gave a formula for dramatic structure that can be generalized to apply to most literature: Nevertheless, the scheme does provide a norm from which there is infinite variation.

Neoclassical dramatists and critics, especially in 17th-century France, derived from Aristotle what they called the unities of time, action, and place. This meant that the action of a play should not spread beyond the events of one day and, best of all, should be confined within the actual time of performance. Nor should the action move about too much from place to place—best only to go from indoors to outdoors and back. There should be only one plot line, which might be relieved by a subplot, usually comic.

These three unities—of time, place, and action—do not occur in Aristotle and are certainly not observed in Classical Greek tragedy. They are an invention of Renaissance critics, some of whom went even further, insisting also on what might be called a unity of mood. Great early novels such as the Chinese Dream of the Red Chamber ; first published in English and the Japanese Tale of Genji early 11th century usually develop organically rather than according to geometrical formulas, one incident or image spinning off another.

The 19th century was the golden age of the novel , and most of the more famous examples of the form were systematically plotted, even where the plot structure simply traced the growth in personality of an individual hero or heroine. The latter 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed an attack on old forms, but what the new writers evolved was simply a new architecture. Novelists such as Joseph Conrad , Ford Madox Ford , Virginia Woolf , and, in his later period, Henry James developed a multiple-aspect narrative, sometimes by using time shifts and flashbacks and by writing from different points of view, sometimes by using the device dating back to Classical Greek romances of having one or more narrators as characters within the story.

This technique, which was first perfected in the verse novels of Robert Browning , in fact reached its most extreme development in the English language in poetry: The content of literature is as limitless as the desire of human beings to communicate with one another. The thousands of years, perhaps hundreds of thousands, since the human species first developed speech have seen built up the almost infinite systems of relationships called languages. A language is not just a collection of words in an unabridged dictionary but the individual and social possession of living human beings, an inexhaustible system of equivalents, of sounds to objects and to one another.

Its most primitive elements are those words that express direct experiences of objective reality, and its most sophisticated are concepts on a high level of abstraction. Words are not only equivalent to things, they have varying degrees of equivalence to one another. Eventually a language comes to be, among other things, a huge sea of implicit metaphors , an endless web of interrelated symbols.

As literature, especially poetry, grows more and more sophisticated, it begins to manipulate this field of suspended metaphors as a material in itself, often as an end in itself. Thus, there emerge forms of poetry and prose, too with endless ramifications of reference, as in Japanese waka and haiku, some ancient Irish and Norse verse, and much of the poetry written in western Europe since the time of Baudelaire that is called modernist.

By the time literature appears in the development of a culture , the society has already come to share a whole system of stereotypes and archetypes: Literature may use such symbols directly, but all great works of literary art are, as it were, original and unique myths. The subject matter of literature is as wide as human experience itself. Myths, legends , and folktales lie at the beginning of literature, and their plots, situations, and allegorical metaphorical narrative judgments of life represent a constant source of literary inspiration that never fails.

This is so because mankind is constant—people share a common physiology. Even social structures, after the development of cities, remain much alike. Whole civilizations have a life pattern that repeats itself through history.

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Egyptian scribes, Japanese bureaucrats , and junior executives in New York City live and respond to life in the same ways; the lives of farmers or miners or hunters vary only within narrow limits. Love is love and death is death, for a southern African hunter-gatherer and a French Surrealist alike.

So the themes of literature have at once an infinite variety and an abiding constancy. They can be taken from myth , from history, or from contemporary occurrence, or they can be pure invention but even if they are invented, they are nonetheless constructed from the constant materials of real experience, no matter how fantastic the invention. As time goes on, literature tends to concern itself more and more with the interior meanings of its narrative, with problems of human personality and human relationships.

This can be presented explicitly, where the characters talk about what is going on in their heads, either ambiguously and with reserve, as in the novels of Henry James, or overtly, as in those of Dostoyevsky. Literature, however, is not solely concerned with the concrete, with objective reality, with individual psychology , or with subjective emotion.


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Some deal with abstract ideas or philosophical conceptions. Much purely abstract writing is considered literature only in the widest sense of the term, and the philosophical works that are ranked as great literature are usually presented with more or less of a sensuous garment. In short, most philosophical works that rank as great literature do so because they are intensely human. Sometimes the pretense of purely abstract intellectual rigour is in fact a literary device.

Throughout literary history, many great critics have pointed out that it is artificial to make a distinction between form and content, except for purposes of analytical discussion. The issue is, indeed, usually only raised at all by those critics who are more interested in politics, religion, or ideology than in literature; thus, they object to writers who they feel sacrifice ideological orthodoxy for formal perfection, message for style.

But style cannot really be said to exist on paper at all; it is the way the mind of the author expresses itself in words. Since words represent ideas, there cannot be abstract literature unless a collection of nonsense syllables can be admitted as literature. Even the most avant-garde writers associated with the Cubist or nonobjective painters used language, and language is meaning , though the meaning may be incomprehensible.

Literature

At the other extreme, the style of the early 20th-century American novelist Theodore Dreiser —bumbling, clumsy, dogged, troubled—perfectly embodies his own attitudes toward life and is, in fact, his constant judgment of his subject matter. Sometimes an author, under the impression that he is simply polishing his style, may completely alter his content. As Flaubert worked over the drafts of Madame Bovary , seeking always the apposite word that would precisely convey his meaning, he lifted his novel from a level of sentimental romance to make it one of the great ironic tragedies of literature.

Yet, to judge from his correspondence, he seems never to have been completely aware of what he had done, of the severity of his own irony. 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. They wrote spontaneously whatever came into their heads; but they wrote constantly, voluminously, and were, by their own standards, skilled practitioners. There are certain forms of literature that do not permit such highly personal behaviour—for instance, formal lyric poetry and classic drama.

These structures are, however, quite simple and so cannot be said to determine the content. Yet their plays, and the poetry in which they are written, differ completely. Corneille is intellectually and emotionally a Neoclassicist—clear and hard, a true objectivist, sure of both his verse and the motivations of his characters. Racine was a great romantic long before the age of Romanticism. His characters are confused and tortured; his verse throbs like the heartbeats of his desperate heroines. He is a great sentimentalist in the best and deepest meaning of that word.

Verse on any subject matter can of course be written purely according to formula. The 18th century in England saw all sorts of prose treatises cast in rhyme and metre, but this was simply applied patterning. Works such as The Botanic Garden [2 vol. Neoclassicism , especially in its 18th-century developments, confused—for ordinary minds, at any rate—formula with form and so led to the revolt called Romanticism.

A similar revolution in taste was taking place all over Europe and also in China where the narrow pursuit of formula had almost destroyed poetry. Each had his own personal form. Time passes and the pendulum of taste swings. All form in literature is expressive. All expression has its own form, even when the form is a deliberate quest of formlessness.

The automatic writing cultivated by the surrealists, for instance, suffers from the excessive formalism of the unconscious mind and is far more stereotyped than the poetry of the Neoclassicist Alexander Pope. Form simply refers to organization, and critics who attack form do not seem always to remember that a writer organizes more than words. Thus, his organization stretches far back in his mental process. Form is the other face of content, the outward, visible sign of inner spiritual reality. In preliterate societies oral literature was widely shared; it saturated the society and was as much a part of living as food, clothing, shelter, or religion.

Many tribal societies remained primarily oral cultures until the 19th century. In early societies the minstrel might be a courtier of the king or chieftain, and the poet who composed liturgies might be a priest. But the oral performance itself was accessible to the whole community. With the invention of writing this separation was accelerated until finally literature was being experienced individually by the elite reading a book , while folklore and folk song were experienced orally and more or less collectively by the illiterate common people.

Elite literature continuously refreshes itself with materials drawn from the popular.

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