Basics of Studying Literature

3647 WordsJan 22, 200615 Pages
TWO ASPECTS OF LITERARY STUDY. Such a study of Literature as that for which the present book is designed includes two purposes, contributing to a common end. In the first place (I), the student must gain some general knowledge of the conditions out of which English literature has come into being, as a whole and during its successive periods, that is of the external facts of one sort or another without which it cannot be understood. This means chiefly (1) tracing in a general way, from period to period, the social life of the nation, and (2) getting some acquaintance with the lives of the more important authors. The principal thing, however (II), is the direct study of the literature itself. This study in turn should aim first at an…show more content…
IMAGINATION AND FANCY. Related to Emotion also and one of the most necessary elements in the higher forms of literature is Imagination, the faculty of making what is absent or unreal seem present and real, and revealing the hidden or more subtile forces of life. Its main operations may be classified under three heads: (1) Pictorial and Presentative. It presents to the author's mind, and through him to the minds of his readers, all the elements of human experience and life (drawing from his actual experience or his reading). 2. Selective, Associative, and Constructive. From the unorganized material thus brought clearly to the author's consciousness Imagination next selects the details which can be turned to present use, and proceeds to combine them, uniting scattered traits and incidents, perhaps from widely different sources, into new characters, stories, scenes, and ideas. The characters of 'Silas Marner,' for example, never had an actual existence, and the precise incidents of the story never took place in just that order and fashion, but they were all constructed by the author's imagination out of what she had observed of many real persons and events, and so make, in the most significant sense, a true picture of life. 3. Penetrative and Interpretative. In its subtlest operations, further, Imagination penetrates below the surface and comprehends and brings to light the deeper forces and facts--the real controlling instincts of characters, the real motives for
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