Friday, May 26, 2006

Literary study between the S-Word and the H-Word.

"To some people...the success that [narratology] has achieved is distressing. What irritates them is its 'soulless' and sometimes mindless technicalness and its pretension to the role of 'pilot science' in literary studies.... If (I say if) every form of knowledge can be situated between the two poles symbolized by rigorous mechanics and that blend of empiricism and speculation represented by philately, we can no doubt observe that literary studies today oscillate between the philately of interpretive criticism and the mechanics of narratology..."
GĂ©rard Genette, Narrative Discourse Revisted

On the other hand...

"When studying physics we are not asked to investigate the biographies of all the discicples of Newton who showed interest in science, but who failed to make any discovery. Neither are their unrewarded gropings, passions, laundry bills, or erotic experiences thrust onto the hurried students or consider germane to the subject."
Ezra Pound, How to Read

Pound was writing in 1931, Genette more than 50 years later in 1983. But it's interesting to see that by 2006, we're still oscillating between historicizing and scientificizing our literatures.

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