By K. M. Newton
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Extra resources for Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader
The New Criticism and Leavisian Criticism 27 seems much more profitable to use the present occasion for dealing with some persistent misunderstandings and objections. In the first place, to make the poem or the novel the central concern of criticism has appeared to mean cutting it loose from its author and from his life as a man, with his own particular hopes, fears, interests, conflicts, etc. A criticism so limited may seem bloodless and hollow ... In the second place, to emphasize the work seems to involve severing it from those who actually read it, and this severance may seem drastic and therefore disastrous.
Nothing in ideological creation goes beyond these laws; they are active in every nook and cranny of the ideological construction. Everything in this process of constant dialectical interaction preserves its individuality. Art does not stop being art, Russian Formalism and Prague Structuralism 13 science is always science. And, at the same time, the sociological laws of development do not lose their unity and comprehensive determining force. The truly scholarly study of literary history can only be built on the basis of this dialectical conception of the individuality and interaction of the various ideological phenomena ....
Only dialectics can avoid both normativism and dogmatism in definitions and their positivistic atomization into a multiplicity of disconnected facts only conditionally connected. Therefore, the role of historical poetics is to prepare the historical perspective for the generalizing and synthesizing definitions of sociological poetics .... 14 TWENTIETH-CENTURY LITERARY THEORY Until, we have a sociological poetics, albeit of a basic, exceedingly simple variety, the productive elaboration of literary history on the monistic basis of the Marxist sociological methods is impossible ....