By Iris Owens
Harriet is leaving her boyfriend Claude, “the French rat.” That a minimum of is how Harriet sees issues, no matter if it’s Claude who has simply requested Harriet to go away his Greenwich Village residence. good, a method or one other she has no goal of leaving. on the contrary, she's going to remain and unique revenge—or might have if Claude had now not had her unceremoniously evicted. nonetheless, although moved out, Harriet isn't approximately to maneuver on. no longer in anyway. Girlfriends circle round to patronize and suggest, yet Harriet in simple terms takes offense, and it’s effortless to appreciate why. simply because mad and maddening as she should be, Harriet sees prior the well mannered platitudes that everybody else is content material to spout and reside through. She is an unblinkered, unbuttoned, unrelenting, and chiefly bitingly humorous prophetess of all that's mistaken with women’s lives and hearts—until, in a shock twist, she reveals a savior in a depressing room on the Chelsea lodge.
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The older European philological basis, a very sound one, at least in the form in which it was expounded by August Boeckh7 and others in the nineteenth century, had largely disappeared in English-speaking countries. In some places, notably Oxford, where I studied in the ’30s, it had declined into a much narrower conception of philology. This was partly because the shifting of the centre of literary study from the Classical to the modern languages had developed a prejudice, derived from one of the more bizarre perversions of the work ethic, that English literature at least was a merely entertaining subject, and should not be admitted to universities unless the An Essay on the Social Context of Literary Criticism 9 main emphasis fell on something more beneficial to the moral fibre, like learning the classes of Old English strong verbs.
Detours continue to appear along the path. One of these is that of the epistemological and methodological identification between criticism and a range of human sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology. Criticism must find its own way of accounting for the creations of literature, and that principle also leads to the rejection of biographical, philological, and historical circumstances as their causes. Even an author’s intention fails to establish the case for such causation. Frye’s watchfulness over the specific development of literature among human phenomena, along with the consequent need for literary criticism to base its findings upon literature alone, is congruent with a number of theoretical stances already current in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Once more, some historical critics, like the biographical ones, will want to go from manifest to latent social content, from the historical context of the poem to its context in some unified overview of history. Here again determinism, the impulse to find the ultimate meaning of literature in something that is not literature, is unmistakable. 12 Marxism is another enlarged historical perspective, widely adopted, and perhaps inherently the most serious one of them all. Literature is a part of a social process; hence that process as a whole forms the genuine context of literature.
After Claude by Iris Owens