Friday, May 4, 2012

Mimetic Critics vs Intertextual Critics

Exam 2

Part A Q. 2
While reading through the intertextual characteristics, I quickly put my old professor's face to this school of criticism. Who would have thought my professor was going somewhere during all his rants of "the greats" and "predecessors." While in my creative writing class, we were made to read a book by one of the authors in "The List of Literature's Greatest" he had given us and then write a ten page essay of everything we could steal from these great authors. For example, he gave us certain books from the Holy Bible (Ecclesiastes & Proverbs) and what we could "borrow" from those books is the application of wisdom. In other words, we could assume that some writers from the Victorian Era who made, although not literary, best selling "How to" books for upper class women who couldn't raise their children, cook etc. borrowed this application of wisdom from these books of the Holy Bible. 
In this intertextual application essay entitled ""Silence and Slow Time": Pastoral Topoi in Keats's Odes" by Lore Metzger, the writer is stubborn about his argument. Metzger, writes that in Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Keats takes some literary elements from great writers of the Romantic Era but adds another element to contribute to literature. "Keats insisted on his right to enlarge the neoclassic canon of "great masters," to test a wide spectrum of masterpieces and to allow the masterpieces to test him. When he turned to experimenting with the Pindaric ode, he evolved both his own stanzaic form and hi own repertoire of topoi by testing literary models, imprinting on them his own design." (307)
Metzger says that Keats informs us that he believes Keats incorporated both a classical literary tradition by molding pastoral topoi elements into his poem. (natural life and mother earth) However, Keats didn't stop there, he added some literary traditions of the romantics. Therefore, Keats made contributed something special to literature: Romantic Classicism. "In some of his odes Keats the classicist deployed pastoral topoi to give allusive resonance to his personal debates, while Keats the romanticist exploited the tensions and dissonances that surfaced in his confrontations with literary tradition."
Lore Metzger then ties writes about the various themes going on in the poem "The contest between art and life, sculpture and poetry, sculpture and poetry, has reached a moment of equipoise. But increasingly the speakers tone becomes plaintive as he meditates on lovers that cannot age, trees that will not shed their leaves, unheard melodies that, like unconsummated love, will never grow stale." That all of these "cold pastoral" themes are better than a real mortal life full of passion and the way of cheating death is the "silent immortality of the urn." 
In every argument the intertexual critic, Lore Metzger brings forth in his application essay, he ties in the emotional modes, themes and traditions of other types of literature.His need to categorize a writer into a box is what makes him an intertextual critic. Ranking a writer (student) below their predecessors is important because it humbles the student. Once they acknowledge that they are being influenced by another writer, they have to study it in order for them not to just become an imitation of their predecessor. A fantastic example is Hemingway and Dostoyevsky. Ernest Hemingway's predecessor was Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and there are books about Hemingway's constant self comparison and insecurities of living under Dostoyevsky's big shadow. 

Part B Q. 3
Josephine Donovan's essay "Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism," quickly puts her in the the Mimetic school of criticism. This is because she often complains about the way female characters in literature are flawed depictions of reality and how of minimal importance author's of literature focus on presenting work valuable to female readers. Donovan goes on to say that female characters in literature are there to serve men and to apply some sort of aesthetic beauty. "Women in literature written by men are for the most part seen as Other, as objects, of interest only insofar as they serve or detract from the goals of the male protagonist. Such literature is alien from a female point of view because it denies her essential selfhood." (225) The critic is upset by this because men have been writing literature for so long and they haven't presented a woman character who female readers can relate to. "The primary assumption a critic in the "images of women" school must make is an evaluation of the authenticity of the female characters. Authenticity is another concept borrowed from the Existentialists, in particular Heidegger, who meant by it whether an individual has a self-defined critical consciousness, as opposed to a mass-produced or stereotypical identity." Josephine says that any stereotypical persona in literature lacks reality therefore lacks to produce any psychological revelations of reality. For example, if there is one person who is depicted as one hundred percent evil, it is lacking the reality of a person being diverse and vise-versa any character who is one hundred percent righteous is not reality. Biblically speaking, everyone is flawed and falls short of the glory of God. However, will Jesus Christ be an example of an unrealistic character to a mimetic critic? Or will the temptations of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew bring reality to a literary work? If we were to read a story about Hitler that portrays him as evil and only evil, the work has no literary value because Hitler's love for children is known. Josephine Donovan goes on to say that you often see women in literature be only one hundred percent good or one hundred percent bad: the virgin vs the whore, Mary vs Eve etc. the fact that minor characters present only one sided characteristics (good or bad) is not realistic because the characters that do get to have complex personalities are men. "Female stereotypes symbolize either the spiritual or the material, good or evil. Mary, the mother of Jesus, came through time to exemplify the ultimate in spiritual goodness, and Eve, the partner of Adam, the most sinister of evil physicality." Which is true, females do get the short end of the stick in western literature because of the often red headed character in Genesis. However, Adam was with her. Is a man not supposed to lead his wife? Guide her? The fall is Adam's fault just as much as Eve's. But why is it that Eve is the model for the "sinister" woman in literature? Why do we see that just as a female is about to show some complexity to her personality in Henry James's novella, "Daisy Miller," she ends up getting killed as if a woman has to be virtuous to have to live. This, according to mimetic critics is not correct, not literature and we have to be aware of it to fix the unrealistic reality of literature. 

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