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Moral

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... some of them now seem less heroic, and some of them less funny. ... Sermons to poems. Notes plain style. Disapproval of art that only pleased the senses ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Moral


1
Moral Philosophical Criticism
  • EH 4301

2
Moral Criticism
  • The best poetry has a power of forming,
    sustaining, and delighting us, as nothing else
    can. More and more mankind will discover that
    we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for
    us, to console us, to sustain us. Without
    poetry, our science will appear incomplete and
    most of what now passes with us for religion and
    philosophy will be replaced by poetry.
  • - Matthew Arnold, The Study
    of Poetry

3
Literature
  • An important source of moral guidance and
    spiritual inspiration
  • A worthy substitute for religion
  • extreme position
  • in harmony with critical tradition

4
Moral Criticism
  • Moral approach has the longest history.
  • The importance of literature
  • not just its way of saying
  • but also what it says

5
Moral Criticism
  • Critics who concentrate on the moral dimensions
    of literature often
  • judge literary works by their ethical teachings
    and by their effects on readers
  • Literature that is ethically sound and encourages
    virtue is praised.
  • Literature that misguides and corrupts is
    condemned.

6
Moral Criticism
  • Some modern critical theories may make us resist
    the idea that literature has a didactic purpose.
  • but cannot deny many of the greatest writers have
    considered themselves teachers as well as artists.

7
Moral Criticism
  • Plato
  • acknowledged literatures power as a teacher by
    believing it capable of corrupting morals and
    undermining religion
  • Moralism
  • Utilitarianism

8
Moral Criticism
  • Aristotle and Horace
  • considered literature capable of fostering virtue
  • Horace
  • Literature should be delightful and instructive

9
Moral Criticism
  • Samuel Johnson
  • Function of literature
  • To teach morality
  • To probe philosophical issues

10
Moral Criticism
  • Matthew Arnold
  • The Study of Poetry
  • Most important thing is the moral or
    philosophical teaching
  • Great literary work must possess high
    seriousness
  • literature (poetry)
  • Important source of moral and spiritual
    inspiration
  • Would probably replace philosophy and religion

11
Moral Criticism
  • Matthew Arnold
  • Can accept his idea that there are moral and
    religious significance in literature.

12
Moral Criticism
  • 20th century moral evaluation
  • Neo-Humanist
  • Originally American
  • Literature as a criticism of life
  • the study of the technique of literature is a
    study of means
  • concerned with the ends of literature
  • How it affects the reader

13
Moral Criticism
  • Neo-Humanist
  • Paul Elmer More
  • Irving Babbitt
  • Norman Foerster
  • Harry Hayden Clark
  • G.R. Elliott
  • Robert Shafer
  • Frank Jewett Mather
  • Gorham Munson
  • Stuart Sherman Pratt

14
Moral Criticism
  • Neo-Humanist
  • Opposed two literary tendencies
  • Naturalism
  • Denies man free will and responsibility
  • Romanticism
  • Excessive cultivation of ego
  • Sympathy with unrestrained expression

15
Moral Criticism
  • Irving Babbitt
  • most influential and controversial moral critic
    of the 20th century
  • held that literature must help us recognize
  • the reality of evil
  • the necessity of controlling our impulses

16
Moral Criticism
  • Babbitt
  • Genius and Taste (1918)
  • Truly great literature conforms to standards, to
    the ethical norm that sets bounds to the
    eagerness of the creator to express himself.
    (164-165)
  • Literature that does not abide by such standards
    leads to
  • self-indulgence
  • moral degeneration

17
Moral Criticism
  • Babbitt
  • Rousseau and Romanticism (1919)
  • critical of romanticism
  • condemns romantic morality
  • sees Blake as the extreme example of dangerous
    romantic rejection of limits and restraints
  • He proclaims himself of the devils party, he
    glorifies a free expansion of energy, he looks
    upon everything that restricts this expansion as
    synonymous with evil.
  • Blake other poets have contributed to a moral
    decline in society.

18
Moral Criticism
  • Paul Elmer More
  • Criticism
  • It is the critics duty, to determine the moral
    tendency of literary works and to judge them on
    that basis.
  • The greatest critics are discriminators between
    the false and the true, the deformed and the
    normal preachers of harmony and proportion and
    order, prophets of the religion of taste.

19
Moral Criticism
  • Paul Elmer More
  • The Praise of Dickens
  • Focuses on what is false and what is true in
    Dickens works.
  • Values Dickens divine tenderness and human
    delicacy but also says a strain of vulgarity
    runs through his works (166).

20
Moral Criticism
  • Point of contention
  • Whether the moralist would or would not
    acknowledge supernatural sanction for the moral
    standards he held up to the arts.
  • More
  • Associated with institutional religion
  • Elliott
  • Necessity of alliance between religion and
    morality
  • Babbitt
  • Secular and religiously noncommittal

21
Moral Criticism
  • 1940s
  • Death of Neo-Humanism
  • Birth of Christian Humanism (Religious Humanism)
  • "a philosophy advocating the self- fulfillment of
    man within the framework of Christian
    principles. (Webster)
  • Most human beings have personal and social needs
    that can only be met by religion
  • T.S. Eliot
  • Edmund Fuller
  • Hyatt Waggoner

22
Moral Criticism
  • Edmund Fuller
  • Man in Modern Fiction Some Minority Opinions on
    Contemporary American Writing (1958)
  • Fullers definition of critic is to appraise the
    validity and the implications of the image of man
    projected by the artists use of his materials.

23
Moral Criticism
  • Fuller (like Babbitt and More) sees standards and
    restraints as essential for moral action.
  • Condemns much of modern fiction for rejecting
    these guides in the name of compassion.
  • Compassion must be based on a large and generous
    view of life and a distinct set of values (34).
  • The compassion found in many modern novels is a
    teary slobbering over the criminal and degraded,
    the refusal to assign any share of responsibility
    to them, and a vindictive lashing out against the
    rest of the world (35-37)

24
Moral Criticism
  • Tobin Siebers
  • The Ethics of Criticism
  • literary criticism is inextricably linked to
    ethics (1)
  • literary criticism accepts the task of
    examining to what extent literature and life
    contribute to the nature and knowledge of each
    other (42).

25
Moral Criticism
  • Attempts to extract literature from an ethical
    context are misguided and ultimately
    unsuccessful.
  • Faults New Criticism

26
  • Christopher Clausen
  • The Moral Imagination Essays on Literature and
    Ethics (1986)
  • literary works usually embody moral problems and
    reflect moral attitudes, sometimes even moral
    theories. There is no good reason for criticism
    to tiptoe around one of the major reasons that
    literary works endure (xi).

27
Moral Criticism
  • Moral approach has become less popular and
    influential during the last few decades.
  • Why?
  • It could be due to
  • the excess of the critics
  • the deficiencies of the approach itself
  • the moral laxness of other critics

28
Moral Criticism
  • However, there are other critics/critical fields
    which promote a moral fervor in their writings
  • Feminist criticism
  • Marxist criticism

29
Moral Criticism
  • Lawrence Lipking
  • Aristotles Sister A Poetics of Abandonment
    (1983)
  • In addition to winning critical attention for
    many neglected works by women writers, feminist
    criticism has sparked a reevaluation of many
    works traditionally granted high, secure places
    in the canon.
  • Something peculiar has been happening lately to
    the classics some of them now seem less heroic,
    and some of them less funny. Those irrelevant
    scenes of cruelty to women have changed their
    character. (79)

30
Moral Criticism
  • F.R. Leavis
  • Yvor Winters
  • Do not categorize themselves as Humanists
  • Do express the traditional concern for the moral
    ends of literature

31
Religious Criticism
  • Kenneth B. Murdock
  • Literature and Theology in Colonial New England
    (1949)
  • Analyzes Puritan works
  • Sermons to poems
  • Notes plain style
  • Disapproval of art that only pleased the senses
  • Imagery homeliness and realism

32
Religious Criticism
  • Helen Gardner
  • Religion and Literature (1971)
  • Examined religious elements in secular works
  • Hamlet
  • It is a Christian tragedy in the sense that it
    is a tragedy of the imperatives and torments of
    the conscience.
  • Hamlets discovery of all the evil and corruption
    in the world
  • Must recognize Hamlets attitude as fundamentally
    Christian

33
Religious Criticism
  • Stanley Romaine Hopper
  • Spiritual Problems in Contemporary Literature
    (1952)
  • Much modern literature is fundamentally religious
  • Quest of the Prodigal is central theme in poetry
    of Auden and Eliot
  • Analysis of such poetry would be incomplete
    without taking religious themes into account
  • Studying such poetry can help the reader
    understand vital religious issues
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