Metaphor and Symbol

Metaphor and Symbol

Metaphor and Symbol

Metaphor and Symbol

Excerpt

The Colston Research Society, which for many years has made grants in aid of research in the University of Bristol, has since, 1948 sponsored annual Symposia on subjects appropriate to the various University departments. The Symposium for 1960, arranged by the English Department, represented an attempt to clarify some problems of imaginative expression in literature. Metaphor and symbol were chosen for particular attention because they are typical forms of non-literal expression in poetry and creative literature generally, and to discover more about them is to discover more about the creative imagination. It was intended that discussion should be directed mainly towards poetry and -- in a wide sense -- poetic expression. Since, however, literary metaphors and symbols are related to the metaphors, symbols and analogies through which other kinds of insight are mediated, some scholars not primarily concerned with literature were invited to give papers or to take part in the discussion; indeed one purpose of the Symposium was to bring together representatives of different intellectual disciplines between which there may be illuminating cross-reference. In these ways it was hoped that the Symposium, whilst addressing itself to particular problems of expression and communication, might throw light on matters of central concern in a world increasingly dominated by technological and positivist assumptions.

For those who took part in it the Symposium was certainly a successful one. Since the papers were linked only by their relation to an area of interest that, by its nature, cannot be exactly defined, and since the speakers approached that area from widely different standpoints, no summary of 'results' is possible, or indeed desirable. What may be briefly noticed however is the persistence of certain themes, namely the dynamic and energizing quality of imaginative symbols, and the relation of these on the one hand to the deeper and more complex workings of the mind, and on the other to a social-cultural context.

It is customary in these publications to include a fairly full -- sometimes a verbatim -- account of the discussions following each paper. In this Symposium we were unable to obtain an exact transcript of some of the discussions, and for others the transcript was so patchy as to forbid even a brief summary. Shortened versions of the discussions have been included where possible; for the complete absence of two, apologies are due to those members of the Symposium who would wish to have a more adequate reminder of exchanges of opinion that were often as far-reaching as they were invariably friendly, co-operative and genuinely exploratory.

As Director of the Symposium I should like to record some particular obligations: to the Colston Society for its generous financial support, and to this year's President, Mr R. H. Brown, for much unobtrusive aid; to Dr D. G. James, Professor H. D. Lewis and Professor D. W. Harding, for some much . . .

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