What Is Literature Essay

I am thankful for aid with this book from many people. particularly Julian Wolfreys. Jason Wohlstadter. and Barbara Caldwell. my “Senior Editor” and priceless helper at the University of California. Irvine. I thank Simon Critchley for? rst proposing that I might compose this book for the series he edits. every bit good as for his careful reading of the manuscript. I am thankful besides to the co-editor of the series. Richard Kearney. for a helpful reading of the manuscript. Muna Khogali and Tony Bruce. of Routledge. have been unfailingly generous and gracious. Tony Bruce read the manuscript with attention and made utile suggestions.

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A preliminary version of some of the thoughts in this book. particularly those in Chapter 4. was presented as a talk for the Koehn Endowed Lectureship at the University of California. Irvine. in Febuary 2001. The talk was called “On the Authority of Literature. ” Subsequently. the talk was given as the? rst one-year Lecture on Modern Literature for the Department of English at Baylor University in April. 2001. The talk was so printed at that place as a booklet for local circulation.

I am thankful to my host and patron at Baylor. Professor William Davis. for his many kindnesses. Di? erent versions of the talk were given at two conferences. in August 2001. in the People’s Republic of China: at a triennial conference of the Chinese Association for Sino-Foreign Literary and xi On Literature Cultural Theory. held in Shenyang. and at an International Symposium on Globalizing Comparative Literature. sponsored by Yale and Tsinghua Universities.

I thank Professor Wang Ning for set uping these invitations and for many other courtesies. A German interlingual rendition will be published as my part to a research undertaking on “representative cogency. ” sponsored by the Zentrum pelt Literaturforschung in Berlin.

I particularly thank Ingo Berensmeyer. every bit good as other co-workers in Berlin. for the opportunity to seek out my thoughts on them. A Bulgarian interlingual rendition will be published in a Festschrift for Simeon Hadjikosev. of So? a University. I thank Ognyan Kovachev for ask foring me. and for other kindnesses. Wholly. my preliminary thoughts for Chapter 4 and for some other sources of this book have had the bene? T of many helpful remarks and reactions. Finally. I thank the dedicatee of this book for su? ering one time more through my ordeals of composing. She had to digest my far-off expression. my moony absentmindedness.

I was brooding once more in imaginativeness on the other side of Alice’s looking-glass or on the deserted island where the Swiss Family Robinson made such an enchanting place. It has taken me a good many months to? gure out what to state about that experience. Sedgwick. Maine December 15. 2001 twelve Recognitions What is Literature? One FAREWELL LITERATURE? The terminal of literature is at manus. Literature’s clip is about up. It is about clip. It is approximately. that is. the di? erent era of di? erent media. Literature. in malice of its nearing terminal. is nevertheless perennial and cosmopolitan.

It will last all historical and technological alterations. Literature is a characteristic of any human civilization at any clip and topographic point. These two contradictory premises must regulate all serious rhenium? ection “on literature” these yearss. What brings about this self-contradictory state of affairs? Literature has a history. I mean “literature” in the sense we in the West usage the word in our assorted linguistic communications: “literature” ( Gallic or English ) “letteratura” ( Italian ) . “literatura” ( Spanish ) . “Literatur” ( German ) . As Jacques Derrida observes in Demeure: Fiction and Testimony. the word literature comes from a Latin root.

It can non be detached from its Roman-ChristianEuropean roots. Literature in our modern sense. nevertheless. appeared in the European West and began in the late 17th century. at the earliest. Even so the word did non hold its modern significance. Harmonizing to the Oxford English Dictionary. the word “literature” was? rst used in our current sense merely rather late. Even a de? nition of “literature” as including memoirs. history. aggregations of letters. learned treatises. etc. . every bit good as verse forms. printed dramas. and 1 On Literature novels. comes after the clip of Samuel Johnson’s lexicon ( 1755 ) .

The restricted sense of literature as merely verse forms. dramas. and novels is even more recent. The word “literature” is de? ned by Johnson entirely in the now obsolescent sense of “Acqaintance with ‘letters’ or books ; polite or humane acquisition ; literary civilization. ” One illustration the OED gives is every bit tardily as 1880: “He was a adult male of really little literature. ” Merely by the 3rd de? nition in the OED does one get to: Literary production as a whole ; the organic structure of Hagiographas produced in a peculiar state or period. or in the universe in general.

Now besides in a more restricted sense. applied to composing which has claim to consideration on the evidences of beauty of signifier or emotional consequence. This de? nition. says the OED. “is of really recent outgrowth both in England and France. ” Its constitution may be handily dated in the mid-eighteenth century and associated. in England at least. with the work of Joseph and Thomas Wharton ( 1722–1800 ; 1728–90 ) . They were hailed by Edmund Gosse. in an essay of 1915–16 ( “Two Pioneers of Romanticism: Joseph and Thomas Wharton” ) . as giving literature its modern de?

nition. Literature in that sense is now coming to an terminal. as new media bit by bit replace the printed book. WHAT HAS MADE LITERATURE POSSIBLE? 2 On Literature What are the cultural characteristics that are necessary accompaniments of literature as we have known it in the West? Western literature belongs to the age of the printed book and of other print signifiers like newspapers. magazines. and periodicals by and large. Literature is associated with the gradual rise of about cosmopolitan literacy in the West. No widespread literacy. no literature.

Literacy. furthermore. is associated with the gradual visual aspect from the 17th century onward of Western-style democracies. This means governments with expanded su? fury. authorities by legislative assemblies. regulated judicial systems. and cardinal human rights or civil autonomies. Such democracies easy developed more or less cosmopolitan instruction. They besides allowed citizens more or less free entree to printed stuffs and to the agencies of publishing new 1s. This freedom. of class. has ne’er been complete. Assorted signifiers of censoring. in even the freest democracies today. restrict the power of the printing imperativeness.

However. no engineering has of all time been more e? ective than the publishing imperativeness in interrupting down category hierarchies of power. The printing imperativeness made democratic revolutions like the Gallic Revolution or the American Revolution possible. The Internet is executing a similar map today. The printing and circulation of clandestine newspapers. pronunciamentos. and emancipatory literary plant was indispensable to those earlier revolutions. merely as electronic mail. the Internet. the cell phone. and the “hand-held” will be indispensable to whatever revolutions we may hold from now on.

Both these communicating governments are besides. of class. powerful instruments of repression. The rise of modern democracies has meant the visual aspect of the modern nation-state. with its encouragement of a sense of cultural and lingual uniformity in each state’s citizens. Modern literature is common literature. It began to look as the usage of Latin as a tongue franca bit by bit disappeared. Along with the nation-state has gone the impression of national literature. that is. literature written in the linguistic communication and parlance of a peculiar state. This construct remains strongly codi?

erectile dysfunction in school and university survey of literature. It is institutionalised 3 What is Literature? in separate sections of French. German. English. Slavic. Italian. and Spanish. Enormous opposition exists today to the recon? guration of those sections that will be necessary if they are non merely to vanish. The modern Western construct of literature became? rmly established at the same clip as the visual aspect of the modern research university. The latter is normally identi? erectile dysfunction with the initiation of the University of Berlin around 1810. under the counsel of a program devised by Wilhelm von Humboldt.

The modern research university has a dual charge. One is Wissenschaft. ? nding out the truth about everything. The other is Bildung. preparation citizens ( originally about entirely male 1s ) of a given nation-state in the ethos appropriate for that province. It is possibly an hyperbole to state that the modern construct of literature was created by the research university and by lower-school preparation in readying for the university. After all. newspapers. diaries. non-university critics and referees besides contributed. for illustration Samuel Johnson or Samuel Taylor Coleridge in England.

However. our sense of literature was strongly shaped by university-trained authors. Examples are the Schlegel brothers in Germany. along with the whole circle of critics and philosophers within German Romanticism. English illustrations would include William Wordsworth. a Cambridge alumnus. His “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” de? ned poesy and its utilizations for coevalss. In the Victorian period Matthew Arnold. trained at Oxford. was a founding force behind English and United States institutionalized survey of literature.

Arnold’s thought is still non without force in conservative circles today. Arnold. with some aid from the Germans. presided over the transportation from doctrine to literature of the duty for Bildung. Literature would determine citizens by giving them 4 On Literature cognition of what Arnold called “the best that is known and thought in the universe. ” This “best” was. for Arnold. enshrined in canonical Western plants from Homer and the Bible to Goethe or Wordsworth. Most people still? rst hear that there is such a thing as literature from their school instructors.

Universities. moreover. have been traditionally charged with the storage. cataloguing. saving. commentary. and reading of literature through the accretions of books. periodicals. and manuscripts in research libraries and particular aggregations. That was literature’s portion in the university’s duty for Wissenschaft. as opposed to Bildung. This dual duty was still really much alive in the literature sections of The Johns Hopkins University when I taught at that place in the 1950s and 1960s. It has by no agencies disappeared today.

Possibly the most of import characteristic doing literature possible in modern democracies has been freedom of address. This is the freedom to state. compose. or print more or less anything. Free address allows everyone to knock everything. to inquiry everything. It confers the right even to knock the right to liberate address. Literature. in the Western sense. as Jacques Derrida has forcefully argued. depends. furthermore. non merely on the right to state anything but besides on the right non to be held responsible for what one says. How can this be?

Since literature belongs to the kingdom of the fanciful. whatever is said in a literary work can ever be claimed to be experimental. conjectural. cut o? from referential or performative claims. Dostoevsky is non an ax liquidator. nor is he recommending ax slaying in Crime and Punishment. He is composing a? ctive work in which he imagines what it might be like to be an ax liquidator. A ritual expression is printed at the beginning of many modern detective narratives: “Any 5 What is Literature? resemblance to existent individuals. life or dead. is strictly coinciding.

”This ( frequently faithlessly ) claim is non merely a precaution against cases. It besides codi? es the freedom from referential duty that is an indispensable characteristic of literature in the modern sense. A? nal characteristic of modern Western literature apparently contradicts the freedom to state anything. Even though democratic freedom of address in rule allows anyone to state anything. that freedom has ever been badly curtailed. in assorted ways. Writers during the era of printed literature have de facto been held responsible non merely for the sentiments expressed in literary plants but besides for such political or societal vitamin E? ECTs as those plants have had or have been believed to hold had.

Sir Walter Scott’s novels and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin have in di? erent ways been held responsible for doing the American Civil War. the former by transfusing absurdly outmoded thoughts of gallantry in Southern aristocracy. the latter by resolutely encouraging support for the abolishment of bondage. Nor are these claims nonsensical. Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Chinese interlingual rendition was one of Mao Tse Tung’s favourite books.

Even today. an writer would be improbable to acquire away before a tribunal of jurisprudence with a claim that it is non he or she talking in a given work but an fanciful character expressing fanciful sentiments. Just every bit of import as the development of print civilization or the rise of modern democracies in the development of modern Western literature. has been the innovation. conventionally associated with Descartes and Locke. of our modern sense of the ego. From the Cartesian cogito. followed by the innovation of individuality. consciousness. and self in Chapter 27. Book II. of Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. to the crowned head.

I or Ich of Fichte. to absolute consciousness in Hegel. to the I as 6 On Literature the agent of the will to power in Nietzsche. to the self-importance as one component of the ego in Freud. to Husserl’s phenomenological self-importance. to the Dasein of Heidegger. explicitly opposed to the Cartesian self-importance. but however a modi? ed signifier of subjectiveness. to the I as the agent of performative vocalizations such as “I promise” or “I bet” in the address act theory of J. L.

Austin and others. to the topic non as something abolished but as a job to be interrogated within deconstructive or postmodern thought – the whole period of literature’s flower has depended on one or another thought of the ego as a selfconscious and responsible agent.

The modern ego can be held apt for what it says. thinks. or does. including what it does in the manner of composing plants of literature. Literature in our conventional sense has besides depended on a new sense of the writer and of writing. This was legalized in modern right of first publication Torahs. All the salient signifiers and techniques of literature have. moreover. exploited the new sense of selfhood. Early? rst-person novels like Robinson Crusoe adopted the direct presentation of interiority feature of seventeenth-century Protestant confessional plants.

Eighteenth-century novels in letters exploited epistolatory presentations of subjectiveness. Romantic poesy a? rmed a lyric “I. ” Nineteenth-century novels developed sophisticated signifiers of third-person narrative. These allowed a dual coincident presentation by manner of indirect discourse of two subjectivenesss. that of the storyteller. that of the character. Twentieth-century novels present straight in words the “stream of consciousness” of? ctional supporters. Molly Bloom’s monologue at the terminal of Ulysses is the paradigmatic instance of the latter. 7 What is Literature?


Most of these characteristics doing modern literature possible are now undergoing rapid transmutation or seting in inquiry. Peoples are now non so certain of the integrity and perdurance of the ego. nor so certain that the work can be explained by the authorization of the writer. Foucault’s “What is an Writer? ” and Roland Barthes’s “The Death of the Author” signaled the terminal of the old tie between the literary work and its writer considered as a unitary ego. the existent individual William Shakespeare or Virginia Woolf. Literature itself has contributed to the atomization of the ego.

Forces of economic. political. and technological globalisation are in many ways conveying about a weakening of the nation-state’s discreteness. integrity. and unity. Most states are now multilingual and multiethnic. States today are seen to be divided within every bit good as bing within more permeable boundary lines. American literature now includes plants written in Spanish. Chinese. Native American linguistic communications. Yiddish. Gallic. and so on. every bit good as plants written in English from within those groups. for illustration Afro-american literature. Over 60 minority linguistic communications and civilizations are recognized in the People’s Republic of China.

South Africa after apartheid has eleven o? cial linguistic communications. nine African linguistic communications along with English and Afrikaans. This acknowledgment of internal division is stoping literary study’s institutionalization harmonizing to national literatures. each with its presumedly selfenclosed literary history. each written in a individual national linguistic communication. The awful events of the mid-twentieth century. World War II and the Holocaust. transformed our civilisation and Western literature with it. Maurice Blanchot and others have even argued persuasively that literature in the old sense is impossible after the Holocaust. 8 On Literature

In add-on. technological alterations and the accompaniment development of new media are conveying about the gradual decease of literature in the modern sense of the word. We all know what those new media are: wireless. film. telecasting. picture. and the Internet. shortly cosmopolitan wireless picture. A recent workshop I attended in the People’s Republic of China ( PRC ) brought together American literary bookmans and representatives of the Chinese Writers Association. At that meeting it became apparent that the most well-thought-of and in? uential Chinese authors today are those whose novels or narratives are turned into one or another telecasting series.

The major monthly diary printing poesy in the PRC has in the last decennary declined in circulation from an astonishing 700. 000 to a “mere” 30. 000. though the proliferation of a twelve or more new in? uential poesy diaries mitigates that diminution slightly and is a healthy mark of diversi? cation. Nevertheless. the displacement to the new media is decisive. Printed literature used to be a primary manner in which citizens of a given state province were inculcated with the ideals. political orientations. ways of behaviour and judgement that made them good citizens.

Now that function is being progressively played. all over the universe. for better or for worse. by wireless. film. telecasting. VCRs. DVDs. and the Internet. This is one account for the di? culties literature sections have these yearss in acquiring support. Society no longer needs the university as the primary topographic point where the national ethos is inculcated in citizens. That work used to be done by the humanistic disciplines sections in colleges and universities. chiefly through literary survey. Now it is progressively done by telecasting. wireless talk shows. and by film.

Peoples can non be reading Charles Dickens or Henry James or Toni Morrison and at the same clip watching telecasting or a? lumen on VCR. though some 9 What is Literature? people may claim they can make that. The grounds suggests that people spend more and more clip watching telecasting or sur? ng the Internet. More people. by far. likely. hold seen the recent? lumens of novels by Austen. Dickens. Trollope. or James than have really read those plants. In some instances ( though I wonder how frequently ) . people read the book because they have seen the telecasting version.

The printed book will retain cultural force for a good piece yet. but its reign is clearly stoping. The new media are more or less quickly replacing it. This is non the terminal of the universe. merely the morning of a new one dominated by new media. One of the strongest symptoms of the at hand decease of literature is the manner younger module members. in sections of literature all over the universe. are turning in droves from literary survey to theory. cultural surveies. postcolonial surveies. media surveies ( ? lumen. telecasting. etc. ) . popular civilization surveies. Women’s surveies. Afro-american surveies. and so on.

They frequently write and teach in ways that are closer to the societal scientific disciplines than to the humanistic disciplines as traditionally conceived. Their authorship and learning frequently marginalizes or ignores literature. This is so even though many of them were trained in antique literary history and the close reading of canonical texts. These immature people are non stupid. nor are they nescient savages. They are non dead set on destructing literature nor on destructing literary survey. They know better than their seniors frequently do. nevertheless. which manner the air current is blowing. They have a deep and commendable involvement in?

lumen or popular civilization. partially because it has done so much to organize them as what they are. They besides have a proleptic sense that traditional literary survey is on the manner to being declared disused by society and by university governments. This will likely go on non in so 10 On Literature many words. University decision makers do non work that manner. It will go on by the more vitamin E? ective device of retreating support in the name of “necessary economies” or “downsizing. ” Departments of classics and modern languages other than English. in United States universities. will travel? rst.

Indeed. they are in many universities already traveling. ab initio through merger. Any United States English section. nevertheless. will shortly fall in the remainder. if it is foolish plenty to travel on learning chiefly canonical British literature under the semblance that it is exempt from cuts because it teaches texts in the dominant linguistic communication of the state. Even the traditional map of the university as the topographic point where libraries store literature from all ages and in all linguistic communications. along with secondary stuff. is now being quickly usurped by digitized databases.

Many of the latter are available to anyone with a computing machine. a modem. and entree to the Internet through a waiter. More and more literary plants are freely available online. through assorted web sites. An illustration is “The Voice of the Shuttle. ” maintained by Alan Liu and his co-workers at the University of California at Santa Barbara ( hypertext transfer protocol: //vos. ucsb. edu/ ) . The Johns Hopkins “Project Muse” makes a big figure of diaries available ( hypertext transfer protocol: // Muse. jhu. edu/journals/index_text. hypertext markup language ) . A dramatic illustration of this doing obsolete the research library is the William Blake Archive web site

( hypertext transfer protocol: // World Wide Web. blakearchive. org/ ) . This is being developed by Morris Eaves. Robert Essick. and Joseph Viscomi. Anyone anywhere who has a computing machine with an Internet connexion ( I for illustration on the distant island O? the seashore of Maine where I live most of the twelvemonth and am composing this ) may entree. download. and publish out stunningly accurate reproductions of major versions of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and some 11 What is Literature? of his other prophetic books. The original versions of these “illuminated books” are dispersed in many di? erent research libraries in England and the United States.

Once they were available merely to specializers in Blake. to bookmans with a batch of money for research travel. Research libraries will still necessitate to take good attention of the masters of all those books and manuscripts. They will less and less map. nevertheless. as the primary agencies of entree to those stuffs. Literature on the computing machine screen is subtly changed by the new medium. It becomes something other to itself. Literature is changed by the easiness of new signifiers of seeking and use. and by each work’s apposition with the countless drove of other images on the Web.

These are all on the same plane of immediateness and distance. They are outright brought near and yet made foreigner. strange. apparently far off. All sites on the Web. including literary plants. brood together as dwellers of that non-spatial infinite we call internet. Manipulating a computing machine is a radically di? erent bodily activity from keeping a book in one’s custodies and turning the pages one by one. I have seriously tried to read literary plants on the screen. for illustration Henry James’s The Sacred Fount. I happened at one minute non to hold at manus a printed version of that work. but found one on the Web.

I found it di? cult to read it in that signifier. This no uncertainty identi? es me as person whose bodily wonts have been for good wired by the age of the printed book. WHAT THEN IS LITERATURE? 12 On Literature If. on the one manus. literature’s clip ( as I began by stating ) is about up. if the script is on the wall. or instead if the pels are on the computing machine screen. on the other manus. literature or “the literary” is ( as I besides began by stating ) universal and perennial. It is a certain usage of words or other marks that exists in some signifier or other in any human civilization at any clip.

Literature in the? rst sense. as a Western cultural establishment. is a particular. historically learned signifier of literature in the 2nd sense. In the 2nd sense. literature is a cosmopolitan aptitude for words or other marks to be taken as literature. About the political and societal public-service corporation. import. e? ectiveness of literature I shall compose subsequently. in Chapter 4. “Why Read Literature? ” At this point my end is to place what kind of thing literature is. What so is literature? What is that “certain usage of words or other signs” we call literary? What does it intend to take a text “as literature” ?

These inquiries have frequently been asked. They about seem like non-questions. Everyone knows what literature is. It is all those novels. verse forms. and plays that are designated as literature by libraries. by the media. by commercial and university imperativenesss. and by instructors and bookmans in schools and universities. To state that does non assist much. nevertheless. It suggests that literature is whatever is designated as literature. There is some truth to that. Literature is whatever bookshops put in the shelves marked “Literature” or some subset of that: “Classics. ” “Poetry. ” “Fiction. ” “Mysteries. ” and so on.

It is however besides the instance that certain formal characteristics allow anyone home within Western civilization to state with strong belief. “This is a novel. ” or “This is a verse form. ” or “This is a drama. ” Title pages. facets of print format. for illustration the printing of poesy in lines with capitals at the beginning of each line. are as of import in segregating literature from other print signifiers as internal characteristics of linguistic communication that tell the ace reader he or she has a literary work in manus.

The co-presence of all these characteristics allows certain collocations of 13 What is Literature? printed words to be taken as literature. Such Hagiographas can be used as literature. by those who are adept at making that. What does it intend to “use a text as literature” ? Readers of Proust will retrieve the history at the beginning of A La recherche du temps perdu ( Remembrance of Things Past ) of the charming lantern his hero. Marcel. had as a kid. It projected on Marcel’s walls and even on his doorhandle images of the nefarious Golo and the unfortunate Genevieve de Brabant. brought into his sleeping room from the Merovingian yesteryear.

My version of that was a box of stereopticon exposure. likely by Matthew Brady. of American Civil War scenes. As a kid. I was allowed to look at these at my maternal grandparents’ farm in Virginia. My great-grandfather was a soldier in the Confederate Army. I did non cognize that so. though I was told that a granduncle had been killed in the Second Battle of Bull Run. I remember in those atrocious images as much the dead Equus caballuss as the organic structures of dead soldiers. Far more of import for me as charming lanterns. nevertheless. were the books my female parent read to me and that I so learned to read for myself.

When I was a kid I did non desire to cognize that The Swiss Family Robinson had an writer. To me it seemed a aggregation of words fallen from the sky and into my custodies. Those words allowed me charming entree to a preexistent universe of people and their escapades. The words transported me at that place. The book wielded what Simon During. in Modern Captivations. calls in his caption. “the cultural power of secular thaumaturgy. ” I am non certain. nevertheless. that secular and sacred thaumaturgies can be all that easy distinguished.

This other universe I reached through reading The Swiss Family Robinson. it seemed to me. did non depend for its being on the words of the book. even though those words were my lone window on that practical world. The 14 On Literature LITERATURE AS A CERTAIN USE OF WORDS Literature exploits a certain potency in human existences as sign-using animate beings. A mark. for illustration a word. maps in the absence of the thing named to denominate that thing. to “refer to it. ” as linguists say. Reference is an unalienable facet of words.

When we say that a word maps in the absence of the thing to call the thing. the natural premise is that the thing named exists. It is truly at that place. someplace or other. possibly non all that far off. We need words or other marks to replace for things while those things are temporarily absent. If I am out walking. for illustration. and see a mark with the 15 What is Literature? window. I would now state. no uncertainty shaped that world through assorted rhetorical devices. The window was non wholly colourless and crystalline. I was. nevertheless. blissfully incognizant of that.

I saw through the words to what seemed to me beyond them and non dependent on them. even though I could acquire at that place in no other manner than by reading those words. I resented being told that the name on the rubric page was that of the “author” who had made it all up. Whether many other people have had the same experience. I do non cognize. but I confess to being funny to? nd out. It is non excessively much to state that this whole book has been written to account for this experience. Was it no more than infantile naivete. or was I reacting. in nevertheless childish a manner. to something indispensable about literature? Now I am older and wiser.

I know that The Swiss Family Robinson was written in German by a Swiss writer. Johann David Wyss ( 1743 –1818 ) . and that I was reading an English interlingual rendition. Nevertheless. I believe my childhood experience had cogency. It can function as a hint to replying the inquiry. “What is literature? ” word “Gate. ” I assume that someplace nearby is an existent gate that I can see with my eyes and appreciation with my custodies to open or close it. one time I get in sight of it and acquire my custodies on it. This is particularly the instance if the word “Gate” on the mark is accompanied by a pointing pointer and the words “ ?

stat mi. ” or something of the kind. The existent. touchable. useable gate is a one-fourth of a stat mi off. out of sight in the forests. The mark. nevertheless. promises that if I follow the pointer I shall shortly be face to face with the gate. The word “gate” is charged with meaning power by its mention to existent Gatess. Of class. the word’s significance is besides generated by that word’s topographic point in a complex di? erential system of words in a given linguistic communication. That system distinguishes “gate” from all other words. The word “gate. ” nevertheless. once it is charged with signi? cance by its mention to existent Gatess. retains its signi?

cance or meaning map even if the gate is non at that place at all. The mark has intending even if it is a prevarication put up by person to take me astray on my walk. The word “Gate” on the mark so refers to a apparition gate that is non at that place anyplace in the phenomenal universe. Literature exploits this extraordinary power of words to travel on meaning in the entire absence of any phenomenal referent. In Jean-Paul Sartre’s quaint nomenclature. literature makes usage of a “non-transcendent” orientation of words. Sartre meant by this that the words of a literary work do non exceed themselves toward the phenomenal things to which they refer.

The whole power of literature is at that place in the simplest word or sentence used in this? ctitious manner. Franz Kafka testi? erectile dysfunction to this power. He said that the full potency of literature to make a universe out of words is at that place in a sentence like. “He opened the window. ” Kafka’s? rst great chef-d’oeuvre. “The Judgment. ” uses that power at 16 On Literature the terminal of its? rst paragraph. There the supporter. Georg Bendemann. is shown sitting “with one cubitus propped on his desk. . . looking out the window at the river. the span. and the hills on the farther bank with their stamp viridity.

” Stephane Mallarme gave informant to the same astonishing thaumaturgy of words. in this instance a individual word. In a celebrated preparation. he pronounced: “I say: a? ower! and. outside the forgetting to which my voice relegates any contour. in the signifier of something other than known callices. musically there rises. the suave thought itself. the absence of all corsages. ” Wordss used as signi? Ers without referents generate with astonishing easiness people with subjectivenesss. things. topographic points. actions. all the gear of verse forms. dramas. and novels with which adept readers are familiar.