Basics of Studying Literature Essay

3640 Words Jan 7th, 2006 15 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…
INTELLECT, EMOTION, IMAGINATION, AND RELATED QUALITIES. Another main question in judging any book concerns the union which it shows: (1) of the Intellectual faculty, that which enables the author to understand and control his material and present it with directness and clearness; and (2) of the Emotion, which gives warmth, enthusiasm, and appealing human power. The relative proportions of these two faculties vary greatly in books of different sorts. Exposition (as in most essays) cannot as a rule be permeated with so much emotion as narration or, certainly, as lyric poetry. In a great book the relation of the two faculties will of course properly correspond to form and spirit. Largely a matter of Emotion is the Personal Sympathy of the author for his characters, while Intellect has a large share in Dramatic Sympathy, whereby the author enters truly into the situations and feelings of any character, whether he personally likes him or not. Largely made up of Emotion are: (1) true Sentiment, which is fine feeling of any sort, and which should not degenerate into Sentimentalism (exaggerated tender feeling); (2) Humor, the instinctive sense for that which is amusing; and (3) the sense for Pathos. Pathos differs from Tragedy in that Tragedy (whether in a drama or elsewhere) is the suffering of persons who are able to struggle against it, Pathos the suffering of those persons (children, for instance) who are merely helpless

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