Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Autumn 1975

Volume 2 Issue 1
    • 1Saul Bellow
    • Wordsworth in 1807 warned that the world was too much with us, that getting and spending we laid waste our powers, that we were giving our hearts away, and that we saw less and less in the external world, in nature, that the heart could respond to.

      In our modern jargon we call this "alienation.” That was the word by which Marx described the condition of the common man under Capitalism, alienated in his work. But for Marx, as Harold Rosenberg has pointed out,

      it is the factory worker, the businessman, the professional who is alienated in his work through being hurled into the fetish-world of the market. The artist is the only figure in this society who is able not to be alienated, because he works directly with the materials of his own experience and transforms them. Marx therefore conceives the artist as the model man of the future [...]

      Thus Rosenberg. And why do I associate him with Wordsworth? Simply because we have now a class of people who cannot bear that the world should not be more with them. Incidentally, the amusing title of Mr. Rosenberg's essay is “The Herd of Independent Minds.”

      Saul Bellow, recipient of three National Book Awards and of the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, was the first American to receive the International Literary Prize. His most recent novel, Humboldt's Gift, appeared this fall.

    • 11Ricardo Gull√≥n
    • Literary space is that of the text; it is there that it exists, and it is there that it has an operative force. What is not in the text though is reality itself, irreducible to a written form. One of the functions of the narrative “I” is to produce this verbal space, to give a context for the motion which constitutes the novel; a space that is not a reflection of anything, but, rather, an invention of the invention which is the narrator, whose perceptions (transferred to images) engender it. Manuscript corrections as well as page proofs modified by the author show that these perceptions are progressively refined so as to be more convincing.


      Ricardo Gullón is the author of numerous books and articles on Latin American, English, French, Spanish, and American literature, art, and critical theory and has lectured extensively in the Americas and in Europe. Direcciones del Modernismo; Galdós, novelista moderno; and García Marquez, o el arte de contar are among his more influential books. A critical study of his works, La obra crítica de Ricardo Gullón, by Barbara Bockus Aponte was recently published in Spain.


      See also: "Spatial Form in Literature: Toward a General Theory" by W. J. T. Mitchell in Vol. 6, No. 3

    • 29Bertrand H. Bronson
    • A folk tune is brief enough to be readily grasped and remembered as a whole; it has an inner unity that makes it shapely to the ear and mind. As a temporal event, or succession of notes, it consists of a little tour through a sonic landscape; so that as we follow the course we recognize its topography; the setting forth, the approach to a turning point, a moment of heightened interest, a pause of retrospection or anticipation, a homecoming. It falls naturally into related, self-defining stages of its whole extent, revealing balance, contrast, and decision. The balance normally relies on approximately the same number of stresses in corresponding phrases; the contrast (also an aspect of balance) usually on tonal sequence and management; the decision appears in cadential statement, and held, or repeating, notes, like signposts at an intersection or junction. Because the tune is seized as a whole, and because several parts have these mutual references, we gain already the suggestion of stanzas of a certain pattern and identical length. Since the phrasal cadences get their weight and meaning from their relative emphasis and relation to the tonic, they inherently prompt corresponding verbal emphases of rhyme or pause. By their perceptible division or separation they exert, moreover, a pressure on the verbal partner, so that the total syntactical and rhetorical structure is palpably affected, and restricted, by their influence.


      Bertrand H. Bronson is the author of such influential works as Joseph Ritson: Scholar-at-Arms, Johnson Agonistes and Other Essays, In Search of Chaucer, and Facets of the Enlightenment and is the editor of the four-volume The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads. Among other honors, he has received the American Council of Learned Sciences Award. "Traditional Ballads Musically Considered" will appear in a slightly different version as the introduction to Singing Tradition, to be published by Princeton University Press.

    • 43Thomas Flanagan
    • We are concerned here with two towers. One is a Norman keep in the Galway barony of Kiltartan, some twenty miles from the western seacoast. The second, one of a chain constructed by the British to withstand a Napoleonic invasion, stands facing eastwards towards the Irish sea at the village of Sandycove, a few miles south of Dublin. Yeats's tower at Ballylee—Ballylee Castle as it was grandly termed—and the Martello tower in which Joyce lived in for a few weeks in 1904, the setting upon which Ulysses opens, take on central and symbolic roles in the art of each man and enter also those shorthands of symbols by which we, in our turn, hold the two writers in our imagination.


      I propose to consider the very different manner in which each man came to accept his identity as an Irish writer. And this in its turn involves some consideration of what for convenience we may term the "matter of Ireland," the body of oral and written Irish literature, and the accumulated symbolic powers of the word "Ireland" itself. If I place their two towers, Ballylee and Martello, as twin emblems at our entrance way, it will at last appear, I trust, that I do so for substantial rather than decorative purposes.


      Thomas Flanagan, chairman of the Department of English at the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of The Irish Novelists, 1800-1850 and many studies of contemporary literature.

    • 69Elder Olson
    • In general, discussions of the poetic process have tended to fall into one of three classes. The first of these, generalizing the process, analyzes the faculties or the activities supposedly involved and arranges these in their logical order, to produce distinct stages or periods of the process. The second kind describes the working habits of an individual poet in terms of characteristic external or internal circumstances or conditions. The third kind gives us, in the same terms, the history of the composition of a particular poem. To illustrate these in reverse order: W. D. Snodgrass' essay The Finding of a Poem tells us how he discovered the meaning—for him—of the elements entering into a particular poem; Paul Valéry's essays on his own poetry—Poésie et pensée abstraite, for example—generally describe his working habits and his experiences while at work; and the following passage gives a typical account of the poetic process as a series of logically ordered stages: "There is, first, a period of hard thinking, during which the mind explores the problems; then a period of relaxation, during which the rational processes of the mind are withdrawn from this particular problem; then the flash of insight which reveals the solution, organizes the symbols, or directs the thinking, during which the formula is tested, the work of art shaped and developed...Graham Wallas calls the four stages Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification..." [Wilbur L. Schramm, "Imaginative Writing," 1941]


      Elder Olson, poet and critic, has received numerous awards for his work. He is the author of, among other works, Penny Arcade, a collection of poetry, and of criticism, On Value Judgment in the Arts and Other Essays. His contributions to Critical Inquiry are "On Value Judgments in the Arts" (September 1974), Part 1 of a "Conspectus of Poetry" (Autumn 1977), and Part 2 of a "Conspectus of Poetry" (Winter 1977).

    • 75Annette Kolodny
    • A good feminist criticism . . . must first acknowledge that men's and women's writing in our culture will inevitably share some common ground. Acknowledging that, the feminist critic may then go on to explore the ways in which this common ground is differently imaged in women's writing and also note the turf which they do not share. And, after appreciating the variety and variance of women's experience—as we have always done with men's—we must then begin exploring and analyzing the variety of literary devices through which different women are finding effective voices. As a consequence of this activity, we may even find ourselves better able to understand and to encourage women writers' continued experiments in language—in stylistic devices, genre forms, and image making—experiments which inevitably expand everyone's abilities to know and express themselves.


      Annette Kolodny, assistant professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, has been awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship for the study of women in society. She has written articles on American literature and culture and a feminist analysis of American pastoral, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters.

    • 93Edward T. Cone
    • In a single richly suggestive word, "song," Sessions sums up all the factors—melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, textural, dynamic, articulative—that contribute to what I have called musical line: "Each one of these various aspects derives its functions from the total and indivisible musical flow - the song. . . . [M]usic can be genuinely organized only on this integral basis, and . . . an attempt to organize its so-called elements as separate factors is, at the very best, to pursue abstraction, and, at the worst, to confuse genuine order with something which is essentially chaotic."1 Analysis, whose functions as a valuable tool for the training of composer and performer Sessions has so well explicated and demonstrated, is now all too often called on to justify and to further this essentially unmusical, or at best nonmusical, pursuit of abstraction. Herein lies the explanation for the increasing doubt of the general usefulness of the discipline that Sessions has lately evidenced.2 For the creation and analysis of art are two distinct activities, confused at the artist's peril. ". . . [A]nalysis cannot reveal anything whatever except the structural aspects of a completed work . . . Discoveries after the fact are necessarily verbalized in terms of preexistent contexts; it hears forward, as it were, in terms of the contexts.3


      ·  1. "Song and Pattern in Music Today," The Score 17 (September 1956): 77-78.

      ·  2. See, e.g., "Song and Pattern," p. 78, and "To the Editor," Perspectives of New Music 5 (1967): 92-93.

      ·  3. Questions about Music (Cambridge, Mass., 1970), pp. 109-110.


      Edward T. Cone, composer and professor of music at Princeton University, has written Musical Form and Musical Performance and The Composer's Voice, edited Berlioz's Fantastic Symphony, and coedited Perspectives on American Composers and Perspectives on Schoenberg and Stravinsky. In a slightly different form, this essay was delivered as an address at Amherst College on the occasion of a music festival honoring Roger Sessions.

    • 113Roger Sessions
    • At the basis of Schenker's teaching lies the most important possible goal - that of effecting some kind of rapprochement between musical theory and the actual musical thought of the composer. It should be hardly necessary to point out, at this late date, the vital necessity of some such rapprochement. The older theory of harmony, virtually a compilation and standardization of the purely practical teachings of earlier days, consisted in little more than a systematic catalog of "chords"—and what was a chord but the simultaneous sounding of any two or more notes, regardless of their syntactical significance? That the harmony books catalogued only the simplest of such phenomena does not in the slightest alter the fact that fundamentally the conception went no further. While distinctions were made between "harmonic" and "non-harmonic" tones, and the number of possible chords limited by professional fiat, such distinctions and limitations were patently arbitrary and often contrary to the true order beneath what was assumed to be merely conventional, and therefore sanctified by tradition. There even exist harmony books which dogmatically assert the inferiority of certain cadence formulas, on the ground that the masters used them less frequently than others of different structure!


      Roger Sessions was an American composer who taught at Smith College, Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley. Sessions received two Pulitzer prizes.

    • 121Christopher Ricks
    • . . . I should like to ask some questions about a particular obviousness: that lie in English means both to say something false while knowing it to be so, and to rest or (expressive of bodily posture) to be in a prostrate or recumbent position. A pun, after all, is likely to be a compacting or constellating of language and literature, of social and cultural circumstance.


      There is potency in the pun or the suggestive homophone. "Miscegenation" must be a bad thing. Does it not confess that it is a mis-something? (All it really confesses, of course, is that it is a miscere-something, but the word still carries its infection.) Similarly, "What's good for General Motors is good for America" presses us to concede the claim made by general (not invidiously particular or sectional, and with a touch of "captains of industry" authority); a quite other route would have to be taken if the language were to press us to concede that "What's good for A.B. Dick is good for America." Again, the political energy of a strike (and perhaps the credulity as to its effectiveness) profits from the crisp energy of the word, a word—strike—which accords to an enterprise which is one of withdrawal, passivity, and attrition the associations of something which is on the offensive, active, and speedy.


      Christopher Ricks, professor of English literature at the University of Cambridge, is the author of Milton's Grand Style, Tennyson, Poems and Critics, and Keats and Embarrassment. He is also editor of the journal Essays in Criticism.

    • 143Joel Snyder and Neil Walsh Allen
    • Is there anything peculiarly "photographic" about photography—something which sets it apart from all other ways of making pictures? If there is, how important is it to our understanding of photographs? Are photographs so unlike other sorts of pictures as to require unique methods of interpretation and standards of evaluation? These questions may sound artificial, made up especially for the purpose of theorizing. But they have in fact been asked and answered not only by critics and photographers but by laymen. Furthermore, for most of this century the majority of critics and laymen alike have tended to answer these questions in the same way: that photographs and paintings differ in an important way and require different methods in interpretation precisely because photographs and paintings come into being in different ways. These answers are interesting because, even within the rather restricted classes of critics, photographers, and theorists, they are held in common by a wide variety of people who otherwise disagree strongly with each other—by people who think that photographs are inferior to paintings and people who believe they are (in some ways, at least) superior; by people who think that photographs ought to be "objective" and those who believe they should be "subjective"; by those who believe that it is impossible for photographers to "create" anything and by those who believe that they should at least try.


      Joel Snyder teaches criticism and history of photography at the University of Chicago and is presently compiling a book of his own photographs. His contributions to Critical Inquiry include "Picturing Vision" (Spring 1980) and "Reflexions on Las Meninas: Paradox Lost", written with Ted Cohen in the Winter 1980 issue. Neil Walsh Allen produces educational audio-visual materials and has designed eight permanent exhibits on the history and applications of photography for the Smithsonian Institution.

    • 171Richard Strier
    • Like the determinist, the New Critic must proceed by assuming what he hopes to prove; he assumes the existence of "objective" relations between the words of the poem he is studying and then attempts to perceive such relations.1 The distinction between "objective"—that is, in some sense verifiable—and purely subjective or personal meaning must necessarily be a central one for this type of poetics. New Critics are constantly protesting that they are not "reading into" works, that the meanings they ascribe to the words or images of a literary text are objectively there rather than subjectively imposed. Empson declares, speaking of a recurrent image in Donne's poetry, "the point is not so much what 'connotations' this 'image-term' might have to a self-indulgent reader as to what connotation it actually does have in its repeated uses by Donne"—there is clearly a semantic distinction to be made here, for Empson is using the same term, "connotation," to describe both what he does and what he does not mean.2


      ·  1. On this procedure in general, see Nelson Goodman's remark on "virtuous circles" in Fact, Fiction, and Forecast (Cambridge, Mass., 1953), pp. 67 ff.

      ·  2. "Donne and the Rhetorical Tradition," Kenyon Review 11 (Autumn 1949): 580; reprinted in Paul Alpers, ed., Elizabethan Poetry: Modern Essays in Criticism (New York, 1967), pp. 63-77. Empson's quotation marks indicate that for the purposes of discussion he is adopting the terminology of Rosemond Tuve.


      Richard Strier, assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago, has written articles on religious poetry and is currently completing a book on Herbert and Vaughan.

    • 191Rawdon Wilson
    • Price commits the Fallacy (so to call it) of Novelistic Presumption. This is clearly evident to his earlier essay ["The Other Self"], but it is certainly implicit in "People of the Book." He assumes that the novel (whatever that is) possesses a history that is independent of other modes of fiction and that it may be discussed independently of the history of literature. In this perspective, a specific element of the novel (say, character) will seem validly detachable from literary history in general. I think that this is an error and that if a theory of character should emerge, it will necessarily account for—go to the heart of—all instances of character, symbolic, allegorical, naturalistic, whether in the novel, in epic, in romance, in drama, or in lyric. "By any inclusive definition of the term, Gerontion can be a character; yet he is at once less and more."1 Such a statement can be correct only if it masks "less and more than a character in a novel."


      ·  1. Martin Price, "The Other Self: Thoughts about Character in the Novel," in Imagined Worlds: Essays on Some English Novels and Novelists in Honour of John Butt, ed. Maynard Mack and Ian Gregor (London, 1968): p. 291.


      Rawdon Wilson, associate professor of English at the University of Alberta, has contributed articles and short works of fiction to literary journals in the United States, Canada, and Australia. He contributed "The Bright Chimera: Character as a Literary Term" to Critical Inquiry in the Summer 1979 issue. Rawdon Wilson responds in the present essay to Martin Price's "People of the Book: Character in Forster's A Passage to India" (Critical Inquiry, March 1974). Martin Price's rejoinder, "The Logic of Intensity: More on Character" appears in the Winter 1975 issue of Critical Inquiry.