Showing posts from February, 2012

Short Questions on Geoffrey Chaucer and Sir Thomas Malory

Q Give examples of nonalliterative verse romances of Geoffrey Chaucer?
 Two important nonalliterative verse romances of Geoffrey Chaucer are Troilus and Criseyde (1385?), a tale of the fatal course of a noble love and The Knight's Tale (1382?.
Q. What are the source of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and The Knight's Tale?
Troilus and Criseyde is laid in Homeric Troy and is based on Il filostrato, a romance by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio;
The Knight's Tale is also based on Boccaccio.

Some Tricky Questions from SHAKESPEARE'S "MACBETH"

Macbeth's psychological state :Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a study of the evil that is in every human heart, and of one man’s downfall as he willfully gives way to its temptations. To answer such tricky question,  Shakespeare depicts the tragedy of a man torn between an amoral will and a powerfully moral intellect.Returning from battle, Macbeth is greeted by three witches, who tell him that he will one day become king. As a reward for his military successes, he then receives the title of Thane of Cawdor from King Duncan, confirming part of the witches’ prophecy. Once Macbeth arrives back at his estate, Lady Macbeth spurs her husband’s ambition forward, and together they hatch a plan to kill the king and thereby hasten Macbeth’s accession to the throne. In Act 2, Scene ii, Lady Macbeth is waiting while her husband carries out the murder. When he enters in disarray, the murder weapons still in his bloodstained hands, she takes it upon herself to frame Duncan’s grooms for the killing, …

Short Questions From Middle English Alliterative Poems :William Langland’s "The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman" and "The Pearl"

Q. What is the common rhyme scheme of Old and Middle Englishalliterative poems? Give an example.
 Ans: Old and Middle English alliterative poems are commonly written in form of four-stress lines. Of these poems, William Langland’s The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman, better known as Piers Plowman, is the most significant.
Q. What is the theme of William Langland’s The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman ?
Ans: in the form of dream visions William Langland’s The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman protests the plight of the poor, the avarice of the powerful, and the sinfulness of all people. The emphasis, however, is placed on a Christian vision of the life of activity, of the life of unity with God, and of the synthesis of these two under the rule of a purified church.

Practical Criticism : Series of Experiments by the Cambridge Critic I.A. Richards

“It is a perfectly possible means of overcoming chaos.”
I. A. Richards Science and Poetry
Practical criticism began in the 1920s with a series of experiments by the Cambridge critic I. A. Richards (English literary critic, semanticist, and educator). With the British psychologist and educator Charles Kay Ogden, Richards wrote The Meaning of Meaning (1923), a modern study of semantics viewed from a historical and critical standpoint. Principles of Literary Criticism (1924), Science and Poetry (1926), and especially, Practical Criticism (1929) changed radically the way English is studied and taught. In Practical Criticism he described experiments revealing that even highly educated people are conditioned by their education, by handed-down opinion, and by other social and circumstantial elements in their aesthetic responses. Other writers have commented on the conditioning effects of tradition, fashion, and other social pressures, noting, for example, that in the early 18th century the pla…

I A Richard’s Concept of Two Uses of Language

The disjunction of art from matter-of-fact disciplines is central to Richardsian criticism. The tendency of many writers was to reject or to subordinate one to the other. Richards hoped to find some common area between science and art in psychology, some third term capable of relating one to the other. Principles of Literary Criticism represented the most concentrated endeavour to forge this relation. A more profitable approach proved to be his methodology of contexts.
In a chapter on ‘The Two uses of Language’, Richards distinguishes two kinds of causation that leads for ‘mental events’. The first kind is the result of stimuli affecting the mind through the senses immediately. The second kind of causation lies in the mind itself, its particular needs and its degree of relevant receptiveness. The interaction of these two kinds of of causation determines the character of the mental event.

Main features of New Criticism and Challenging Concept by Later Critics and Theorists

Introduction New Criticism is an approach to literature which was developed by a group of American critics, most of who taught at southern universities during the years following the First World War. The New Critics wanted to avoid impressionistic criticism, which risked being shallow and arbitrary, and social/ historical approaches which might easily be subsumed by other disciplines. Thus, they attempted to systematize the study of literature, to develop an approach which was centered on the rigorous study of the text itself. They were given their name by John Crowe Ransom, who describes the new American formalists inThe New Criticism(1941).

Seven Types of Ambiguity

William Empson studied under I. A. Richards at Cambridge and became one of the most influential literary critics and important poets of his generation. Empson's ideas in seminal works like Seven Types of Ambiguity and The Structure of Complex Words shaped the course of critical thinking far beyond the 1930's. InSeven Types of AmbiguityWilliam Empson views Texts containing moments in which meaning is not clear, when interpretation is questioned.  It was one of the most influential critical conceptions of the 20th century and was a key foundation work in the formation of the New Criticism school. The book is organized around seven types of ambiguity that Empson finds in the poetry he criticizes. Empson reads poetry as an exploration of conflicts within the author.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge ‘s Definition of Primary imagination, Secondary Imagination, Willing suspension of disbelief, Organic wholeness of a poem and Fancy

Samuel Taylor  Coleridge  on a trip the European continent lost his early sympathy with political radicalism and became interested in German philosophy, especially the 18th-century idealism of Immanuel Kant and the 17th-century mystical writings of Jakob Boehme, and in the literary criticism of the 18th-century dramatist G. E. Lessing. These studies made Coleridge the most influential English interpreter of German romanticism.  Coleridge returned to England in 1806. Between 1808 and 1819 he gave his famous series of lectures on literature and philosophy; the lectures on Shakespeare were partly responsible for a renewed interest in the playwright. Endowed with an intellect of the first order, and an imagination at once delicate and splendid, Coleridge planned to compose  various epic poems, and a complete system of philosophy, in which all knowledge was to be co-ordinated. However, he fell far sort of his target. He has, however, left enough poetry of such excellence as to place him in…

Old English Poetry "WANDERER" and "SEAFARER": Key Points to Remember

Old English lyrics are so difficult that most students treat them as prose. This article is specifically meant for beginners who want to have a basic knowledge of the language and understand the basic English scriptures. It is not meant for scholars or those who want to pursue higher studies in this language. To be accurate, clear, and simple, with the purpose of understanding the four books of Old English poetry existing still today seem to have been written about the year 1000.

T. S. Eliot’s influence upon Modern Literary Criticism: Impersonality of Poetry

"No poet, no artist of any sort, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists."- T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965) "Tradition and the Individual Talent" The poet must continually surrender himself to something which is more valuable than himself that is tradition. In the beginning, his self, his individuality may assert itself, but as his powers mature there will be a greater extinction of personality. His emotions and passions must be depersonalized, and he must be as objective as a scientist, and understand that his personality is merely a medium. He must forget personal joys and sorrows and devote himself completely in acquiring a sense of tradition. That is why, Eliot says that honest criticism is not directed at the poet but upon the poetry.

T. S. Eliot’s influence upon Modern Literary Criticism: Defining “Tradition and the Individual Talent”

"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality."-
T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965) "Tradition and the Individual Talent"  T. S. Eliot questions the habit of praising a poet especially for those elements in his work which are most ‘individual’, and differentiate him from others. He argues that the best, even the most individual parts of a poet’s work may be those most alive with the influence of his poetic ancestors. No poet or artist is significant in isolation. The whole of past literature will be ‘in the bones’ of the poet, with the true historic sense which recognizes the presence as well as the ‘pastness’ of the past. Eliot’s sense of the interdependence of present and the past is something which he believed the poet must cultivate. Tradition can be obtained only by those who have a historical sense. This sense of tradition implies recognition of the continuity of literature…

T. S. Eliot’s influence upon Modern Literary Criticism:The Function of Criticism

"A book is not harmless merely because no one is consciously offended by it."- T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965) T.S. Eliot Selected Essays"Religion and Literature"
According to T. S. Eliot , the function of criticism is the exposition and elucidation of art and also correction of taste, and thereby promoting understanding and enjoyment of art.
A good critic must be impersonal and objective, and must not be guided by his ‘inner voice’, but by authority outside himself. By this he meant tradition. A critic must be learned not only in the literature of his own country but also in the literature of Europe, from Homer to his own day. However, he must not judge the present by the standards of the past, as the requirements of each age are different, and so the canons must change from age to age.

T. S. Eliot’s influence upon Modern Literary Criticism: Unification of Sensibility and Dissociation of Sensibility

In the seventeenth century a dissociation of sensibility set in from which we have never recovered.
- T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)  Selected Essays, "The Metaphysical Poets"
By ‘Unification of sensibility’, T. S. Eliot means ‘a fusion of thought and feeling’, ‘are creation of thought into feeling’, and ‘a direct sensuous apprehension of thought’. He argued that the Metaphysical poets, together with the Elizabethan and the Jacobean dramatists, had a mechanism of sensibility which could accommodate any kind of experience. Eliot points out to Donne's most successful and characteristic effect secured by brief words and sudden contrasts:A bracelet of bright hair about the bone, where the most powerful effect is produced by the sudden contrast of associations of 'bright hair' and of 'bone'… This telescoping of images and multiplied associations were characteristic of some of the dramatists of the period Shakespeare, Middleton and Webster, and is one of the sources …


Important Notes: Caedmon (650?-680?), considered the earliest of the Anglo-Saxon Christian poets. The first English poet of whom we have any knowledge. Originally employed as cowherd at the Abbey of Whitby, he became a singer when somewhat advanced in life.The only information concerning Caedmon is in the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation (731), by the English theologian Saint Bede the Venerable.

Dr. Samuel Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare: Points to Remember

Eighteenth-century writer Samuel Johnson ((1709-1784) is one of the most significant figures in English literature. His fame is due in part to a widely read biography of him, written by his friend James Boswell and published in 1791. Although probably best known for compiling his celebrated dictionary, Johnson was an extremely prolific writer who worked in a variety of fields and forms.
Chief Critical Approaches of Dr. Johnson are:
Johnson tried teaching and later organized a school in Lichfield. His educational ventures were not successful, however, although one of his students, David Garrick, later famous as an actor, became a lifelong friend.

OLD ENGLISH LITERATURE: Key Points to Remember of Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem BEOWULF

OLD ENGLISH (5th – 11th) (600 – 1100)

Mainly it was oral Period.
Themes were mostly battles, natural disasters, religion, hard daily life and monsters etc.
Important Notes: Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, the most important work of Old English literature . Although the date of the poem is unknown, the earliest surviving manuscript is believed to date from the late 10th century. The manuscript, written in the West Saxon dialect, is in the British Library in London. On the basis of this text, Beowulf is generally considered to be the work of an anonymous 8th-century Anglian poet who fused Scandinavian history and pagan mythology with Christian elements.

Vijoy Tendulkar’s "Silence! The Court is in Session": The Plight of Miss Benare

Benare wanted to live a free life, free from the patriarchal dominance and the conservative norms of the society. She displays self-determination, self -assertiveness and cynicism but is also receptive to the conventional norms of integrity. Tendulkar has tried to initiate the new form by commenting on the mendacity of the social and ethical standards existing in the society.  Ms. Benare studied and established herself as a teacher. She fell in love with Prof. Damle as a young woman in spite of her previous failure in a love with her maternal uncle. Prof. Damle was a married man who also wanted to satisfy his bodily thirst. She was pregnant without marriage and this was a reason that she was discharged from her school.

Analysis of “The Wild Swans at Coole”- W.B. Yeats

“The Wild Swans at Coole”- W.B. Yeats

THE trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty Swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I…

John Galsworthy's "Justice":Key facts :Characters: Few Questions answers

Key factsRead More Drama Author:John Galsworthy (1867-1933)
First Published: 1910 Type of Work: Drama Type of Plot: Social criticism Time of Work: 1910 Setting: London Principal Characters: William Falder, Cokeson, Ruth Honeywill Genres: Social realism, Drama Subjects: Justice, Prisoners, Prisons, Suicide, 1910’s, England or English people, Lawyers, London, divorce system, injustice, humanism etc. Locales: London, England
Author's Other Contributions:The Man of Property (1906), In Chancery (1920), Awakening (1920), To Let (1921),The Forsyte Saga (1922),The White Monkey (1924), The Silver Spoon (1926), Swan Song (1928), Maid in Waiting (1931), Flowering Wilderness (1932), Over the River (1933), End of the Chapter (1934), Strife (1909),  The Pigeon (1912), Old English (1924), and The Roof (1929).
Glory: Galsworthy was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in literature.
Characters Read More Drama
William Falder, a junior clerk in a law firm who raises a company check from nine to ninety pounds and is …

John Dryden in Defence of English Dramatists And Ingenious Plan for Writing His Essay of Dramatic Poesy

The Man: John Dryden, a lifelong man of letters, lacking in the creative imagination which lifts Shakespeare and Milton above their times, lacking too in moral and emotional qualities, but a man of great intellect and a master craftsman able to use his pen along many lines of composition. John Dryden defends tragic comedy which the English dramatists ably and artistically wrote. In his essay on dramatic poesy, Dryden ,in the voice of Neander, rises up in defence of English Dramatists and strongly pleads that English dramatists are fully justified in not slavishly accepting the classical principles in many respects.  They have developed their own principles and proved themselves to be superior to the Greek and French dramatists in many ways.

Figures of Speech: Figures of Contrast

II. Figures of Contrast.
1. (a) Education is to know something of everything, and everything of something. (b) Who but must laugh, if such a man there be? Who would not weep, if Atticus were he? (c) To err is human, to forgive divine.
Antithesis (Gk. anti, against, and thesis, a placing) is the placing of one word or fact against another for the sake of contrast. Almost every word has its opposite e.g. true, false; black, white and by expressly mentioning it we emphasise the word itself. Antithesis also includes words which without being exact opposites have a certain contrast, or which partly define another by subtracting from it its excess of meaning e.g.
Butchered to make a Roman holiday. He had his jest, and they had his estate. The cup that cheers, but not inebriates.
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