Interpretation

  • Geoffrey Thurley

Abstract

The standpoint of the present book is that of empiricism. Fundamentally, an empiricist criticism insists that the role of the critic is to show the text for what it is. This assumes, among other things, that the text is. But this need not commit the empiricist to a pure textualism, as in fact Abrams and Hirsch tend to imply. Pure textualism is a scansion-theory that refuses to acknowledge the problem of interpretation. In fact many apparently textualist theories have been soundly based in interpretive principles. The New Criticism in general and the criticism of F. R. Leavis in particular spring to mind. Recent critics have stressed this ‘anomalous’ reliance upon smuggled-in standards. But in fact any useful critical theory or practice must mingle scansion and interpretation, much as it must slide from description to evaluation. Interpretation-theories depend upon visions of life, philosophies, ideologies (to use the loaded Marxist term). There is no need for this set of assumptions and visions to be clearly articulated: in fact, one must suspect the critic who is able to do so. Critical praxis is far too complex and subtle to allow of very clear articulation: it is really the mind of a civilisation that speaks in the work of a Lukács or a Leavis.

Keywords

Dust Retina Expense Sine Ghost 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 10.
    See for instance W. J. Bate, The Burden of the Past (Cambridge, Mass., 1970); andGoogle Scholar
  2. Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (New York, 1973).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Jonathan Culler, Structural Poetics (London 1975) p. 178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 14.
    Harold Bloom, ‘The Breaking of Form’, Bloom, ed., De-construction and Literature (New Haven, Conn., 1980) p. 7.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Harold Bloom, A Map of Mis-reading (New York, 1975) pp. 33–4. Bloom dismisses Eliot’s concept of tradition as a ‘fiction… a noble idealisation’, though since his own mis-readings are avowed fictions it is hard to see the force of his sneer.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Foucault, The Order of Things, tr. A. Sheridan (London, 1970) p. 43.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    Geoffrey Hartman, preface, Hartman, ed. Psychoanalysis and the Question of the Text (Baltimore, 1978) p. xv.Google Scholar
  8. 22.
    Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, tr. J. Strachey, (London, 1953) p. 160n.Google Scholar
  9. 28.
    Jacques Lacan, ‘The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious’, Ecrits, tr. A. Sheridan (London, 1977) p. 14.Google Scholar
  10. 37.
    See M. A. Mugge, Friedrich Nietzsche, His Life and Work (London, 1908) pp. 43–7.Google Scholar
  11. 40.
    R. S. Crane, The Language of Criticism and the Structure of Poetry (Toronto, 1953) p. 123.Google Scholar
  12. 45.
    Maud Bodkin, Archetypal Patterns in Poetry (London, 1934) p. 4.Google Scholar
  13. 46.
    Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, tr. A. Sheridan-Smith (London, 1972).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Geoffrey Thurley 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Thurley

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations