Formalism: Literary and Ordinary Language, New Criticism, and Formalism

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Formalism: Literary Language, Ordinary Language, New Criticism, New Formalism | English Literature

Literary Theory originated in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the second decade of twentieth century. It has to do with the structural purposes of a text. It doesn՚t consider anything outside text.

Leading representative:

  • Boris Eichenbaum
  • Victor Shklovsky
  • Roman Jacokbson
  • Prague Linguistic Circle – (Czechoslovakia)
  • Roman Jacokbson
  • Jan Mukarovsky
  • Rene Wellek

Literary Language

  • Self-focused.
  • Offers reader a special mode of experience by drawing attention to its own formal features.
  • Literariness – The sum of special linguistic and formal properties that distinguish literary texts from non- literary texts.

Ordinary Language

  • Used only for communication.
  • Main aim is to deliver a message.
  • Nothing to do with language.

Defamiliarization (to estrange) – Victor Shklovsky In Coleridge՚s terms- “Freshness of sensation.”

  • Romantic Critics- Defamiliarization is Author՚s capability.
  • Formalist Critics- Literary devices produces freshness.
  • Poetry – use of meter, repetition, alliteration, and rhythm
  • Contribution to the prose fiction- Syuzhet and Fabula
  • Syuzhet – The concrete representation used to convey a story.
  • Fabula- The Elemental materials of a story.

Author takes the raw material and transforms it into literary plot using variety of devices.

New Criticism

Often called Formalist because like European formalism it stresses –

  • On the analysis of literary work as self-sufficient.
  • Conceives poetry as a special mode of language.

Difference- New critics didn՚t apply science of Linguistic to poetry.

  • Emphasized on the complex interplay within a work of ironical, paradoxical, and Metaphorical meanings around humanly significant themes.
  • Russian formalism and Czech formalism focused on the development of Stylistics and Narratology.
New Criticism

New Formalism

  • A reaction against New Historicism.
  • Build a renewed interest in meter and aesthetics.
  • It connected formal aspects of Literature to the historical.
  • political; and worldly concern.

Major advocate of New Formalism:

  • Susan J. Wolfson
  • Marshall Brown
New Formalism


1 which of these literary theories Does not oppose Formalism?

A) New Historicism

B) ideological

C) Reader response

D) New Criticism

2. Who is associated with the ‘The Hearsyof Paraphase’ ?

A) Cleanth brook

B) Jan Mukarovsky

C) Tzvetan Todorov

D) John Crowe Ransom

3. ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ is written by

A) Allen Tate

B) William K. Wimsatt

C) Rene Wellek

D) T. S. Eliot

4. Who described literariness of a work consists ‘in maximum foregrounding of the utterance’ .

A) Jan Mukarovsky

B) E. M. Thompson

C) Jakobson

D) Samuel Levin

5) Which two critics are responsible to introduce Formalist concept and methods into French Structuralism?

A) Roman Jakobson and Tzvetan Todorov

B) T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound

C) Whitman and Wimsatt

D) Mitchell and Bloom

6) ‘Reading for form’ was edited by

A) Wolfson and Marshall

B) Mitchell and Bloom

C) Blake and Arnold

D) William Carlos and William Blake

7) Formal Charges: The shaping of poetry in British Romanticism Is written by

A) Frank Lentricchia

B) George Levine

C) Harold Bloom

D) Susan J. Wolfson

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