Friday, April 11, 2014
This literary theory is a hybrid comprised of some of the basic tenets of two Romantic poets, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Part of this theory is based upon Wordsworth's basic construct of poetry which he detailed in his "Preface to Lyrical Ballads" (1798) in that poetry is "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." This stipulates that all poetry derives from emotion. I would take this one step further as emotion, not reason, drives all writers of prose and poetry to create their works. All may be "vanity" but the inner desire to create has substantiated all these works. Furthermore, Wordsworth proposes that poetry such be nature and simple, such that is literature written by any man to be read to or by another. There would be no hierarchical ability for reception which deems that that only the erudite can grasp meaning. In league with Wordsworth's famed comments on poetry, I also submit Coleridge's insistence of the "suspension of disbelief" which he posited in his Biographia Literaria (1817). This states that the reader must consent themselves to the work presented no matter how fantastical it may be presented. He initially created this theory to countermand the post-Enlightenment dis-attachments to ideas not related directly to reason. Coleridge's theory can clearly resurrect itself in the 21st century where many critics disdain the majority of new works as based on previous archetypes and lacking originality. Yet this is where the reader must be an active participant in the literary process and can differentiate between the real and the imaginary. As non-historical, non-biographical works truly remain fiction as all plots would have never happened and thus be original to the reader to create mentally anew into their realm of belief. To unify these concepts, my literary theory stipulates that proper literature is that which has understandable themes and conflicts, natural devices of syntax and diction, and originality. Now one may decry the fate of such works as Paradise Lost, The Rape of the Lock, or Ulysses as they would not conform to this utilitarian form of literature. Milton's epic may be classic but his literary construction leaves the poem untenable to large masses of people which thus render his work useless to many who might otherwise have appreciated the epic. Similarly, the epic style and classical allusions in Pope's The Rape of the Lock would confound many although the apotheosis of the hair into a comet would be quite the imaginative and disbelieving conclusion. Finally, Joyce's epic would fail in both manners which, although it is hailed by many as the most important novel of the 20th century, leaves the majority of the readers befuddled after the initial chapter and thus the novel would not be completed. To put it simply, what is the point of literature as communication if the message cannot be conveyed to the largest audience available. While by no means should the author's "dumb down" their message, there must be a unifying theory of literature which is more natural and lacking artifice. To put it in a blunt acronym, KINS: Keep It Natural, Stupid. In this way, all literature will be "kinsmen" so that we can share it more easily with one another and not fear the lack of reception due to author's pretense.