Read e-book online A History of Literary Criticism PDF

By Harry Blamires (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333517350

ISBN-13: 9780333517352

ISBN-10: 1349214957

ISBN-13: 9781349214952

ISBN-10: 3573603653

ISBN-13: 9783573603656

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The whole pleasure of this book, he avers, 'standeth in two speciall poyntes, in open manslaughter and bold bawdrye; In which book those be counted the noblest Knightes, that do kill most men without any quarrell, and commit fowlest aduoulteries by sutlest shiftes'. After the first book, 'teachyng the brynging up of youth', follows the second, 'teachyng the ready way to the Latin tong', and there is a substantial section headed 'lmitatio', abounding in reference to authors. Ascham's thesis is that 'all languages, both learned and mother tonges, be gotten, and gotten onelie by Imitation' and therefore 'if ye would speake as the best and wisest do, ye must be conversant, where the best and wisest are'.

But the boundary between secular and religious literature was inevitably blurred when poets produced works which were religious in substance even if remote from the kind of literature to which biblical exegesis seemed applicable. Verses of prayer or praise were one thing, but elaborate 'fictional' constructs such as Dante's Divine Comedy or Langland's Piers Plowman clearly raised new problems of the nature of literary truth. In fact Dante (1265-1321) himself wrote a dedicatory letter to his Paradiso, introducing the Divine Comedy as a whole and making clear that the kind of interpretative technique applied to the Scriptures is applicable to his poem.

What can be more wretched than a man 'weeping the death 30 A HISTORY OF LITERARY CRITICISM of Dido for love to Aeneas, but weeping not his own death for want of love to thee, 0 God'. Later he tells us how stage plays carried him away 'full of images of my miseries, and of fuel to my fire'. It is sheer wastefulness of grief over the fictional that he stresses. That is what we mean when we say that the birth of the Christian era so transformed the sense of proportion that there was scarcely room for the luxury of aesthetics.

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A History of Literary Criticism by Harry Blamires (auth.)


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