Tag Archives: literature

Anand: Purpose in Loaded Descriptions

“He had seen her before…the fresh young form whose full breasts with their dark beads of nipples stood out so conspicuously under her muslin shirt, whose innocent look of wonder seemed to stir the only soft chord in his person, hardened by the congenital weakness of his mind, brazened by the authority he exercised over the faithful and devout. And he was inclined to be kind to her.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. 29.

I’m torn between being appreciative of the sensuality of the writing, and disgusted by the priest‘s objectification of this young woman. Alas, it’s still strikes me as highly impressive, that I’m able to gather so much about this man within a single chunk of text, and not get lost in it’s heavy, if not poetic, sentence construction.

Faulkner: Dialect and “Voice”

“Now and then a fellow gets to thinking about it. Not often, though. Which is a good thing. For the Lord aimed for him to do and not to spent too much time thinking; because his brain it’s like a piece of machinery: it won’t stand a whole lot of racking. It’s best when it all runs along the same, doing the day’s work and not no one part used no more than needful.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

Faulkner’s characters often use similes; in the passage, the literary device serves not only as a comparison, but showcases Tull’s dialect, what with the lack of grammar in “because his brain it’s like a piece of machinery,” (a comma is needed here) and “not no one part used no more than needful” (rather than saying, “not using any more parts than necessary.”) Language is the foregroun to Tull’s perspective. It’s what gives him his particular “voice.”

Woolf’s Language/Technique

“The Lord had shown her the way. So now, whenever the hot and painful feelings bolded within her, this hatred of Mrs. Dalloway, this grudge against the world, she thought of God. She thought of Mr. Whittaker. Rage was succeeded by calm. A sweet savor filled her veins, her lips parted, and, standing formidable upon the landing in her mackintosh, she looked with steady and sinister serenity at Mrs. Dalloway, who came out with her daughter.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print.

In this passage, Clarissa’s internal distress fuels a range of metaphors, from the “hot and painful feelings” she experiences, to the “sweet savor [that fills] her veins.” However, Woolf’s ability to emphasize emotions comes at the cost of dragging them out in text, arguably, through awkward phrasing. Really, “steady and sinister serenity”? Is that not a little much?

The Meaning

“If we tried to formulate our meaning in one word we should say that these three writers are materialists. It is because they are concerned not with the spirit but with the body that they have disappointed us, and left us with the feeling that the sooner English fiction turns its back upon them, as politely as may be, and marches, if only into the desert, the better for its soul”.

Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 149. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.

Who knew that finding the meaning of a book could only be found through the soul of the book? And even so, the author themselves may not even know the true meaning.

Modernity changes with time

“The modern work is condemned to become dated unless, by achieving the status of a classic, it manages to free itself from the fluctuations of taste and critical opinion… Literarily speaking, a classic is a work that rises above competition and so escapes the bidding of time. Only in this way can a modern work be rescued from aging, by being declared timeless and immortal. The classic incarnates literary legitimacy itself, which is to say what is recognized as constituting Literature; what, in serving as a unit of measure, supplies the basis for determining the limits of that which is considered to be literary.”

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 92.

Casanova seems to be suggesting that what it means to be a truly modern work is constantly changing with those writing in different styles and coming up with the “most recent innovations in form and technique”; that is unless it is great enough to reach the status of a classic. From my understanding, Casanova is attempting to describe a modern work with a greater focus on the word “modern” which attempts to constantly grasp at the present while claiming its legitimacy as literature only if it were great enough to become a classic.

The Definition of Literature

Literature should be either instructive or amusing; and there is in many minds an impression that these artistic preoccupations, the search for form, contribute to neither end, interfere indeed with both. They are too frivolous to be edifying, and too serious to be diverting; and they are moreover priggish and superfluous.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction” Major Stories and Essays (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1999), 576.

Every person has different interests and feelings on what good literature is. Henry James feels that literature should only be one or other and should stay within the definitions of amusing or instructive. Otherwise, it does not reach the potential and becomes superfluous rather than literature.