The Artistic Transaction, and Essays on Theory of Literature

The Artistic Transaction, and Essays on Theory of Literature

The Artistic Transaction, and Essays on Theory of Literature

The Artistic Transaction, and Essays on Theory of Literature

Excerpt

The papers and review articles published in this volume represent the best work I have done in recent years on theory of criticism--or at least the work I take to be the best. Only one of the essays dates back to much before the publication of Creation and Discovery (1955). This older essay, originally entitled "A Natural History of the Aesthetic Transaction,'' was published in 1945; but it had been written some time between the fall of 1939 and the winter of 1940. Between the time it was written and the time it was published, I had to undertake the difficult job of overhauling my earlier philosophical convictions. This, I had taken for granted without serious consideration of the matter, would invalidate the work I had done in aesthetics earlier. But on careful thought I found it had not done so, for much of it had been confined to a phenomenal description and analysis of the work of art and our responses to it. And these are matters on which a number of different philosophers, starting from mutually incompatible points of view, should be able to agree, within tolerable limits, if they but look at what is before their noses. When philosophers seek to explain this phenomenal data, when they try to trace it back to deeper roots, disagreement appears at every turn--and communication, alas, is interrupted. Thus a naturalist and a man who rejects naturalism might agree, as some indeed do, that value at the phenomenal level appears as a trait or character of an object. It is Jane who looks . . .

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