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Read through the most famous quotes by topic #literary

...If you genuinely believe that only the death of a loved one can motivate a human being to take up a cause...then get your pathetic, cynical ass out of my way so I can do my job!

Mark Waid

#commentary #literary-criticism #death

Nearly all our older poetry was written and read by men to whom the distinction between poetry and rhetoric, in its modern form, would have been meaningless. The 'beauties' which they chiefly regarded in every composition were those which we either dislike or simply do not notice. This change of taste makes an invisible wall between us and them.

C.S. Lewis


Perhaps it was that I wanted to see what I had learned, what I had read, what I had imagined, that I would never be able to see the city of London without seeing it through the overarching scrim of every description of it I had read before. When I turn the corner into a small, quiet, leafy square, am I really seeing it fresh, or am I both looking and remembering? [...] This is both the beauty and excitement of London, and its cross to bear, too. There is a tendency for visitors to turn the place into a theme park, the Disney World of social class, innate dignity, crooked streets, and grand houses, with a cavalcade of monarchs as varied and cartoony as Mickey Mouse, Snow White, and, at least in the opinion of various Briths broadhseets, Goofy. They come, not to see what London is, or even what it was, but to confirm a kind of picture-postcard view of both, all red telephone kiosks and fog-wreathed alleyways.

Anna Quindlen

#clichés #fiction #fictional-london #imagination #literary-london

There may even be a real relation between certain kinds of effectiveness in literature and totalitarianism in politics. But although the fictions are alike ways of finding out about the human world, anti-Semitism is a fiction of escape which tells you nothing about death but projects it onto others; whereas King Lear is a fiction that inescapably involves an encounter with oneself, and the image of one's end. This is one difference; and there is another. We have to distinguish between myths and fictions. Fictions can degenerate into myths whenever they are not consciously held to be fictive. In this sense anti-Semitism is a degenerate fiction, a myth; and Lear is a fiction. Myth operates within the diagrams of ritual, which presupposes total and adequate explanations of things as they are and were; it is a sequence of radically unchangeable gestures. Fictions are for finding things out, and they change as the needs of sense-making change. Myths are the agents of stability, fictions the agents of change. Myths call for absolute, fictions for conditional assent. Myths make sense in terms of a lost order of time, illud tempus as Eliade calls it; fictions, if successful, make sense of the here and now, hoc tempus. It may be that treating literary fictions as myths sounds good just now, but as Marianne Moore so rightly said of poems, 'these things are important not because a / high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are / useful.

Frank Kermode


What, then, can Shakespearean tragedy, on this brief view, tell us about human time in an eternal world? It offers imagery of crisis, of futures equivocally offered, by prediction and by action, as actualities; as a confrontation of human time with other orders, and the disastrous attempt to impose limited designs upon the time of the world. What emerges from Hamlet is--after much futile, illusory action--the need of patience and readiness. The 'bloody period' of Othello is the end of a life ruined by unseasonable curiosity. The millennial ending of Macbeth, the broken apocalypse of Lear, are false endings, human periods in an eternal world. They are researches into death in an age too late for apocalypse, too critical for prophecy; an age more aware that its fictions are themselves models of the human design on the world. But it was still an age which felt the human need for ends consonant with the past, the kind of end Othello tries to achieve by his final speech; complete, concordant. As usual, Shakespeare allows him his tock; but he will not pretend that the clock does not go forward. The human perpetuity which Spenser set against our imagery of the end is represented here also by the kingly announcements of Malcolm, the election of Fortinbras, the bleak resolution of Edgar. In apocalypse there are two orders of time, and the earthly runs to a stop; the cry of woe to the inhabitants of the earth means the end of their time; henceforth 'time shall be no more.' In tragedy the cry of woe does not end succession; the great crises and ends of human life do not stop time. And if we want them to serve our needs as we stand in the middest we must give them patterns, understood relations as Macbeth calls them, that defy time. The concords of past, present, and future towards which the soul extends itself are out of time, and belong to the duration which was invented for angels when it seemed difficult to deny that the world in which men suffer their ends is dissonant in being eternal. To close that great gap we use fictions of complementarity. They may now be novels or philosophical poems, as they once were tragedies, and before that, angels. What the gap looked like in more modern times, and how more modern men have closed it, is the preoccupation of the second half of this series.

Frank Kermode


Johnson's later life, from 1763, is among the best documented of all literary lives. James Boswell gave himself the enormous task, after Johnson's death in 1784, of producing what is now held to be a model of biography; rich in detail and anecdote, a complete picture of the man and his times, traced over a period of more than twenty years. Boswell's Life of Johnson, published in 1791, carries on Johnson's own contribution to the growing art of biography, and consolidates Johnson's position as a major literary figure, who, although a poet and a novelist, is remembered more for his academic and critical achievement than for his creative writings.

Ronald Carter


By the close of the nineteenth century her studies with her father were being supplemented by tuition in the classics from Dr Warr of King’s College, Kensington, and from Clara Pater, sister of the English essayist and critic Walter Pater (1839–94). Woolf was very fond of Clara and an exchange between them later became the basis for her short story ‘Moments of Being: Slater’s Pins Have No Points’ (1928). Thoby boarded at Clifton College, Bristol, Adrian was a dayboy at Westminster School, and Vanessa attended Cope’s School of Art. Thoby, and later Adrian, eventually went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and Vanessa undertook training in the visual arts (attending the Slade School of Fine Art for a while). From 1902 Virginia’s tuition in classics passed from Clara Pater to the very capable Janet Case, one of the first graduates from Girton College, Cambridge, and a committed feminist. The sisters visited Cambridge a number of times to meet Thoby, whose friends there included Clive Bell 1881–1964), Lytton Strachey (1880– 1932), Leonard Woolf (1880–1969) and Saxon Sydney-Turner.

Jane Goldman


The 1970s and 1980s: feminism, androgyny, modernism, aesthetics In the 1970s and 1980s, Woolf studies expanded in a number of directions, most notably in relation to feminism. Critical interest in Woolf developed at the same time as feminism developed in related academic disciplines. In this period her writings became central to the theoretical framing of feminism, in particular to debates on Marxist and materialist feminism and to the emergent theories of androgyny. Both these areas of debate takeWoolf ’s A Room of One’s Own as a major point of reference... ........... At the same time as feminist approaches to Woolf were developing and expanding, so, too, was the critical interest in her modernist theories and her formal aesthetics. Again, Woolf ’s writing became central to critical and theoretical formulations on modernism. .......... This period also saw considerable critical interest in the influence of the visual arts on Woolf ’s writing, and particularly in the influence of the formalist theories of her Bloomsbury colleagues Roger Fry and Clive Bell.

Jane Goldman


The Golden Bough captured the imagination of many artists in the early twentieth century. Eliot, certainly, was immersed in it, discussing it familiarly in his graduate school papers and book reviews and constantly alluding to it in his art. The most straightforward advice he offers to readers of The Waste Land (given in the notes to the poem) is, in paraphrase, that any serious reader of the poem must take into consideration modern scholarship in myth and anthropology, especially Frazer Golden Bough and Jessie Weston From Ritual to Romance. The poet says that he is indebted to this scholarship for his title, his plan, his symbolism, and many of his references to ancient religion and society. His claim about the title, taken from the monomyth of Frazer and Weston, his claim about the symbolism, associated with the birth-death-rebirth cycles of the myths, and his claim about the miscellaneous undergirding references have been discussed by Grover Smith and other scholars. We wish to focus more on Eliot's claim about being indebted to Frazer for the plan of the poem. We believe it refers, at least in part, to Frazer's use of the comparative method and to his practice of assembling many perspectives and allowing these perspectives to make his point. It must be noted at once that Eliot was quite selective in his admiration of Frazer. For example, he did not admire Frazer's positivism. Frazer put his faith in science and celebrated what he called the evolution from magic to religion to science. Nor did Eliot share Frazer's conclusions. In his 1913 paper on the interpretation of primitive ritual, he says that Frazer's interpretations of specific myths (the myth of the dying god is his example) are almost certainly mistaken. But Eliot did admire Frazer's erudition and his increasingly nontheoretical presentation of many angles of vision which in themselves tend to generate an overarching abstract primitive vision. In 1924, on the occasion of the publication of a condensed edition of The Golden Bough, Eliot wrote a review in which he lauded Frazer for having "extended the consciousness of the human mind into as dark a backward and abysm of time as has yet been explored." Eliot argues that Frazer's importance for artists is in his exemplary withdrawal from speculation, his adoption of the absence of interpretation as a positive modus operandi.

Jewel Spears Brooker


An important dimension of Tess of the d’Urbervilles is its debt to the oral tradition; to stories about wronged milkmaids, tales of superstition, and stories of love, betrayal and revenge, involving stock figures. This gives Tess of the d’Urbervilles an anti-realistic inflection. From the world of ballad and folktale Hardy draws such fateful coincidences as the failure of Angel to encounter Tess at the ‘Club-walking’ on which he intrudes with his brothers, the letter to Angel that she accidentally slips under the carpet, the loss of her shoes when she tries to visit his family, and the family portraits on the wall of their honeymoon dwelling, as well as several omens. This chimes effectively with a world in which the rural folk have a superstitious and fatalistic attitude to life.

Geoffrey Harvey


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