Formalistic Critics Essay

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Nathan Timmons
Dr. David Partenheimer
Applying Literary Theory: ENG209
23 September 2011
Formalism
In The Theory of the “Formal Method” Boris Eichenbaum states, “The evolutionary character of the formal method is important to an understanding of its history; our opponents and many of our followers overlook it. We are surrounded by eclectics and late-comers who would turn the formal method into some kind of inflexible “formalistic” system in order to provide themselves with a working vocabulary, a program, and a name.” Boris seems to bring to light that many followers of formalism, including late-comers and eclectics, as well as opponents of formalism overlook the history of the formal method. He then proceeds to explain how said late-comers and eclectics would like to turn the formal method into a system for one reason or another due largely to ignorance concerning the history of formalism. Boris was a scientist and approached literary works in a scientific manner. He discusses the need to approach literature objectively. However, Boris seems against the idea that science is a solid, fixed thing; that it’s inflexible or infallible. This is made clear in the use of the epigraph at the beginning of   The Theory of the “Formal Method”.
In T.S. Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent, he discusses tradition and the impact an individual writer has on tradition. In fact, he states, “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.” He goes on to discuss how all poets are influenced by their predecessors and that in order to truly evaluate his work one must compare his work to that of his influencing predecessors. From analyzing his Tradition and the Individual Talent, one can come to the conclusion that as writers are influenced by the tradition of past writers his works, while having some small new components, conform to the tradition of the past. Then new writers are influenced by that work and that writer and follow in the tradition while...

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