Literary Criticism:
Text and Context
Outline
• Starting questions
• Text and Context or Extrinsic and
Intrinsic Approaches;
• Poems as Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
• New Criticism
• Some other examples: Last Supper,
Venuses
Starting Questions:
Which of the following
questions do you ask of a literary work?
• Is Darcy (in Pride and Prejudice) proud? Will
Elizabeth and Darcy have a happy life after
they get married?
• Who was the Dark Lady addressed within
Shakespeare’s sonnets from 127 to 152?
Who is Lucy of Wordsworth’s Lucy poems?
• What do the ironies in “My Last Duchess”
mean? Is it a dramatic monologue? How is it
an example of dramatic monologue?
• What are the representative works of
Victorian England?
Starting Questions:
Which of the following
questions do you ask of a literary work?
• Do I like The Great Gatsby? Is it meaningful
to me? Is it more meaningful if Gatsby is a
real person?
• What is Paradise Lost’s publishing history?
Are there different manuscripts?
• What kind of person is Hardy? What does he
look like? Is he a vegetarian? What is his
racial, class background and his sexual
orientation.
yellow -intrinsic, brown-extrinsic; red –
questions with problematic assumptions.
• Is Darcy (in Pride and Prejudice) proud? Will
Elizabeth and Darcy have a happy life after
they get married?
• Who was the Dark Lady addressed within
Shakespeare’s sonnets from 127 to 152?
Who is Lucy of Wordsworth’s Lucy poems?
• What do the ironies in “My Last Duchess”
mean? Is it a dramatic monologue? How is it
an example of dramatic monologue?
• What are the representative works of
Victorian England?
yellow -intrinsic, brown-extrinsic; red –
questions with problematic assumptions.
• Do I like The Great Gatsby? Is it a great
literary work? Is it better than Forrest Gump?
How is it related to Forrest Gump? Is Gatsby
is a real person?
• What is Paradise Lost’s publishing history?
Are there different manuscripts?
• What kind of person is Hardy? What does he
look like? Is he a vegetarian? What is his
racial, class background and his sexual
orientation?
Dark Lady
"If snow be white, why then her breasts are
dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her
head.“ (Sonnet 130)
• Penelope Rich, a powerful courtesan. (source)
• A black whore. (source) Anne Vavasor
• Attributing Sonnets 1-126 to a young man
and Sonnets 127-152 to a dark lady is
somewhat problematical, since in many of the
poems the gender of the person addressed is
not at all clear (although sometimes it is).
(source)
Text and Context or Extrinsic and
Intrinsic Approaches
• Intrinsic Approach: New Criticism, Close
Reading
• Extrinsic Approach: placing the text in a
certain context.
How to position a
text in its contexts?
社會、歷史
Political Unconscious
社會機構
印刷、出版者/
行銷者
Text // Self
作者/父母
讀者
The Unconscious
Our course’s approaches
Postcolonialism
Context: Imperialism and Colonialism
History & Society
Author
Text
(New Criticism)
Structuralism
Reader
Context: language, signs
Poststructuralism
Context: Social Discourses (Languages) and Capitalism
Our course’s approaches
•
由賞析到批評理論:
a Hermeneutic Circle
閱讀、了解
欣賞
分析、詮釋
文學批評
理論化
How are its meanings
produced?
What is it about?
Do you like it?
Why?
What does it mean?
And how?
What else does it
mean from a certain
perspective or in
some context(s)?
Text & Context: Example I
“When We Two Parted” Byron 1813
• Meaning?
• Pattern: What phrases are repeated? What
parts are changed?
• Repetition: In silence and tears, coldness
(chill), name (shame, fame)
Long, know, secret (silence, too . . . to tell)
• Change: tense (past departure, prsent
realization, future hatred)
Context:
Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb
• . . . became lovers and, through much of April and May
1812, shocked London with their affair.
• But such passion never lasts. Byron was a victim of his
own contradictory personality - he loved to pursue women
but, once captured, he longed to leave them.
Paradoxically, he could not rest easy without their
complete adoration.
• Byron had wooed her passionately for two months and
then ignored her.
• 1812 He also told her to go to Ireland [to join her
husband] for both their sakes. She did so however
unwillingly; but this was the effective end of their
relationship. But they continued to write, perhaps
because he feared another hysterical outburst.
• 1813 He tried to avoid her at all cost.
http://englishhistory.net/byron/lclamb.html
Text & Context: Example II
“Neutral Tones”
• What does the title mean? What images &
metaphors are used? Pattern?
• Connotation: Tone: color quality and speaking
style  Is the speaker’s tone neutral?
 white, ash, gray,
• metaphors: riddles, words (played to and fro),
ominous bird, dead smile.
• Pattern: Is the last stanza a present
condensation of the previous experience?
(chidden  curst, gray  tree, eyes, smile 
face)
Text & Context: Example II
“Neutral Tones”
• Pattern (2):variation of sentence length
(the 2nd and 3rd longer). Alternation of
long vowels and short vowels and
explosives
• Tone: bitter
Text & Context: Example II
“Neutral Tones” in Context
• Compared with “When We Two Parted”
• Poems about being deceived by male
poets;
• Both show their bitterness and obsession
by the love over a period of time.
Text & Context: Example III
“The Going”
• Meaning?
– ‘The going”  close your term here, up
and be gone; great going; vanishing;
Compared to “morning harden upon the
wall, ”
– Me: sick, a dead man held on end, undone
• Pattern? Repetition & Variation:
– Why . . .
– “me”
Text & Context: Example III
“The Going” in Context 1
• Of the first of a sequence called Poems 191213. Hardy gave the whole sequence a Latin
epigraph Veteris vestigia fammae, which
means ‘Traces of an ancient flame’. They
were written in the months after the death of
his wife, Emma, who died on 27 Nov. 1912.
(Hardy was 72 then.) p. 155•
Source: Texts and Contexts: introducing literature and language study. Adrian
Beard. NY: Routledge, 2001
Text & Context: Example III
“The Going” in Context 1
• Hardy and Emma were antagonistic; possible
reasons: religious, class, sex, rivalry (she
envied his fame) or Hardy’s disloyalty (he
loved several beautiful and aristocratic
women with literary aspiration).
• Emma suffered from unpleasant illness for
quite a while and her death was not
unexpected. Right after her death, Hardy’s
lover, Florence Dugdale, moves in to live with
him.
Text & Context: Example III
“The Going” in Context 1
• Emma copied a great deal of Hardy’s
manuscript for him. But her work and her
authorship were mostly repressed.
• One of Emma’s diary entries was “What I
think of my Husband,” which was burned up
by Hardy.
• Dugdale’s name, on the other hand, was
frequently used by Hardy to express his
opinions in essays or letters. After Hardy’s
death, she published his biography, which
was later found out to be written by Hardy.
Text & Context: Example III
“The Going” in Context 2
• Compared with Wordsworth’s “A
Slumber did my Spirit Seal” –
– Wordsworth’s poem shows a gradual
process of acceptance of death;
– Hardy’s shows a self-centered feeling of
guilt and regret.
Text & Context: Example III
“The Going” in Context 3
•
Compared with Christina Rossetti’s
poems
1. “After Death”: Her treatment of love;
“The Going”
2. “Bourne”: Her use of death as a way of
self-preservation.
“A Slumber”
Text & Context: Christina Rossetti
Example IV –paintings of D. G. Rossetti
Example IV
“Song” in Context --Romantized
• 當我死去的時候 親愛 你別為我唱悲傷的歌
我墳上不必安插薔薇 也無須濃蔭的柏樹 讓蓋
著我的青青的草 淋著雨也沾著露珠 假如你願
意請記著我 要是你甘心忘了我
• 在悠久的昏幕中遺忘 陽光不升起也不消翳 我
也許 也許我還記得你 我也許把你忘記 啦...
我在見不到地面的清蔭 覺不到雨露的甜蜜 我
再聽不到夜鶯的歌喉 在黑夜裡頭傾吐悲啼 在
悠久的墳墓中迷惘 陽光不升起也不消翳 我也
許 也許我還記得你 我也許把你忘記
•
歌(電影『閃亮的日子』插曲) 作詞:徐志摩/羅大佑
作曲:羅大佑
Example V:
“Convergence of the Twain” (1912)
Facts: The Titanic luxury sea-liner sank
after colliding with an iceberg on April
15, 1912, during its maiden voyage
from Southampton to New York, with a
loss of 1500 of some 2200 on board.
Meaning? Important Poetic elements?
Pattern (repetition, tension,
contradictions) of the poem?
Example V:
“Convergence of the Twain” (1912)
1. Conflict between human vanity and the
cold decay underwater; between human
ambition and God’s will.
2. Present tense (I-V) and Past tense (VI
- X); the last two lines –present tense,
why?
3. Metaphor; ship and iceberg compared
to mates destined for each other.
4. Form and the position of verb.
“Convergence of the Twain” in
context: the ship Titanic
-- “floating palace.”
-- she could remain afloat with any
three of the first five
compartments flooded, and even
with the first four full. Such
features prompted the periodical
The Shipbuilder to deem Titanic
"practically unsinkable.“
“Convergence” in context: the ship
Titanic –human errors and conspiracies?
-- The ship was part-owned by the
American millionaire J. P. Morgan. Just
before the departure, he cancelled his
reservation on the ship, claiming illhealth. 54 others cancelled reservation.
--The ship look-outs, who were watching
for icebergs, had no
binoculars. . . .Ice-berg warnings
ignored by one called “Phillips” several
times.
http://www.rmstitanic.net/titanic/history/history05.html
Passengers on the ship Titanic
337 first-class passengers (mainly
Americans), 271 second-class (mainly
British); 712 third class (nearly all of
whom were immigrants from Italy,
Ireland, Armenia, Russia, China and the
Lebanon; 123 Lebanese passengers
were drowned).
First Class had the largest percentage
of survivors, then Second Class, then
Third Class respectively.
New Criticism on Poetry
(text 44 - 45)
• 1. Pay close attention to the text’s diction its
meanings (connotation and denotation) and
even its etymological roots.
• 2. Study the poetic elements closely.
e.g.詩律(prosody)、比喻語言(明喻、暗喻、
擬人法、頓呼法)
• 3. Search for structure and patterns; e.g.
oppositions in the text (paradox, ambiguity,
irony)
• 4. From Parts to an Organic Wholeness
Different Kinds of Contexts
-- Author’s context or socio-historical
context
-- Reader’s context (different views, ours
or the other critics’);
-- the text’s context
(publication/reception history;
influences, parodies and adaptations,
e.g. “Song”)
More poems on death
• Representations of Death in Poetry
• http://library.thinkquest.org/16665/art2.
htm
Other examples:
Leonardo da Vinci: The Last Supper
•
http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/html/l/leonardo/painting/z_other/lastsupp.html
Leonardo da Vinci: The Last Supper
•
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/504271_christ.html
Leonardo da Vinci: The Last Supper
(during restoration)
•
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/504271_christ.html
Last Supper by Aubrey Hallis
• ©1996 Aubrey Hallis
The Last Pancake Breakfast
©2000 Dick Detzner
•
http://www.wrongdimensionboy.com/aub/
Similarities
• Both pictures have Captain Crunch as
Judas, both have Snap, Crackle and Pop,
The Trix Rabbit, Tony The Tiger, Lucky
The Leprachaun and the Quaker Oats
Man. Both have Aunt Jemimah,
although Aubrey's painting has her as
the Christ figure while Detzner's has
Mrs. Butterworth in that role.
• Plagiarism? Sacrilegious?
Another one
•
Venus in Context
•
• Black Venus
• Barbarians' Venus, Paul
Klee
Untitled (Your Gaze Hits the Side of My
Face)
•
•
Artist: Barbara Kruger
Date: 1981-83
Barbara Kruger: writings on her
photo work
• YOUR GAZE HITS THE SIDE OF MY
FACE;
• YOU MAKE HISTORY WHEN YOU DO
BUSINESS;
• YOU INVEST IN THE DIVINITY OF THE
MASTERPEICE;
• WHEN I HEAR THE WORD CULTURE, I
TAKE OUT MY CHECKBOOK.
Marilyn Monroe
•
http://www.ellensplace.net/marilyn.html
Other Monroe’s
•
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