American Culture and Society since the 1930s by Christopher Brookeman

By Christopher Brookeman

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249). It is this ability to embody and stimulate virtuoso displays of linguistic activity that earns poetry this high status: Making up our minds about a poem is the most delicate of all possible undertakings. We have to gather millions of fleeting semi-independent impulsesinto a momentary structure offabulous complexity, whose core or germ only is given us in the words. 317) In Richards' system, it is not sufficient just to stimulate linguistic activity through poetry; he has definite views as to the state of awareness that such activity should promote.

In their pre-Iapsarian state, Adam and Eve, in the main, work together in the garden. Ransom then comments that 'it was only when they had separated in the process of specialization that the blandishments of Satan stood a chance to succeed'. From that fatal division of labour ensued the forbidden act of eating the apple of 34 AMERICAN Cl'LTl'RE AND SOCIETY SINCE THE 1930s knowledge which for Ransom represents 'the adoption of a secular attitude; in having unlimited faith in the powers ofhuman science; in regarding nature not romantically but possessively, and as an enemy' (GWT, p.

Instead of concerning itself with discussing social and political content, literary criticism should concern itself with technical studies. In terms ofthe analysis ofpoetry, these studies would beof'its metric, its inversions, solecisms, lapses from the prose norm oflanguage, and from close prose logic; its tropes; its fictions, or inventions, by which it secures "aesthetic distance" and removes itself from history' (WB, p. 347). Ransom urges poctry towards its own autonomous realm ofmeaning, not subject to the contingencies ofhistory and ideology.

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