Essay on Structuralistic Criticism and Gerard Genette

1045 Words Apr 6th, 2011 5 Pages
Gerard Genette writes at the outset in his essay ‘Structuralism and Literary Criticism’ that methods developed for the study of one discipline could be satisfactorily applied to the study of other discipline as well. This is what he calls “intellectual bricolage ’, borrowing a term from Claude Levi-Strauss. This is precisely so, so far as structuralism is concerned. Structuralism is the name given to Saussure’s approach to language as a system of relationship. But it is applied also to the study of philosophy, literature and other sciences of humanity.
Structuralism as a method is peculiarly imitable to literary criticism which is a discourse upon a discourse . Literary criticism in that it is meta-linguistic in character and comes into
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Traditional criticism regards criticism as a message without code; Russian Formalism regards literature as code without message. Structuralism by structural analysis makes it possible to uncover the connection that exists between a system of forms and a system of meanings, by replacing the search for term by term analysis with one for over all homologies (likeness, similarity)”.
Meaning is yielded by the structural relationship within a given work. It is not introduced from outside. Genette believed that the structural study of ‘poetic language’ and of the forms of literary expression cannot reject the analysis of the relations between code and message. The ambition of structuralism is not confined to counting feet and to observe the repetition of phonemes: it must also study semantic (word meaning) phenomena which constitute the essence of poetic language. It is in this reference that Genette writes: “one of the newest and most fruitful directions that are now opening up for literary research ought to be the structural study of the ‘large unities’ of discourse, beyond the framework – which linguistics in the strict sense cannot cross – of the sentence.” One would thus study systems from a much higher level of generality, such as narrative, description and the other major forms of literary expression. There would be linguistics of discourse that was a translinguistics.
Genette…

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