PSYCHO-CRITICS: HOW LITERATURE WORKS

In the study of literature, using the PSYCHOLOGICAL approach, one type of critic places emphasis upon subjective perception and emotional response to an aesthetic experience.

The “objects” of study are

the writer/author/artist

the work (characters/personae)

the reader/viewer and reactions/responses

in addition to the study of the creative process.

Literature helps us reveal ourselves to ourselves; yet literature often is expressing the author’s unconscious in symbolic terms without awareness. Images, connotations, desires, repressions become significant in a work.

HOW IT ALL WORKS (in a “perfect” situation):

The literary work is presented as a text. We use knowledge of the language to perceive the text as things we know in life/reality. Consciously we supply an intellectual meaning to the text by the process of abstraction.

We supply theme/meaning by thinking about the work as a separate entity: We reality test it. We experience the work by INTROJECTION, taking it into ourselves, feeling the nucleus of fantasy and the formal management of that fantasy as though it were our own. By ANALOGIZING, we bring to the work our own highly individualized fantasies.

Fantasies are not “good” or “bad”: only those that please or displease. So “good” now means that which pleases, and pleases for a long time.

However, MEANING is not there simply: it is something we construct for the text within the limits of the text. It is transforming unconscious relevancy to conscious relevancy.

So: “literary meaning” conveys an idea that all the details of the work are “about,” a “point” to which all the individual words, or events, or images in a literary work are RELEVANT.

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