The Depictive Image: Metaphor and Literary Experience

The Depictive Image: Metaphor and Literary Experience

The Depictive Image: Metaphor and Literary Experience

The Depictive Image: Metaphor and Literary Experience

Excerpt

Noting that "Literary theory, as traditionally conceived, seems ineluctably antagonistic to literary experience," a recent essay on theory and practice in literary studies calls for the formulation of a conceptual language that would integrate literary theory and critical practice. In the burgeoning scholarship on metaphor, the disparity between theory and literary critical practice is particularly acute. Doubtless part of the reason for the antagonism is that the majority of influential theorists of metaphor are not literary critics but philosophers, linguists, and rhetoricians. Predictably enough, inquiries into the metaphoric process pursued by the latter generally involve frames of analysis that do not account for the distinctively literary experience in which literary metaphors occur. Whatever the ultimate source of difficulty, however, theories of metaphor by and large fail to elucidate the how of literary metaphor in such a way as to reveal the motive for metaphor--that is, few investigate the aspects of literary experience that attest to the unique communicative power that artists instinctively turn to metaphor to attain.

Endeavoring to contribute to a rapprochement between theory and practical criticism in literature, between interpretation and understanding, the present study outlines an experiential approach to literary metaphor, one that takes into account both prediscursive and analytic experiences as they bear on the apprehension of literary metaphor. The view elaborated here is that literary metaphor depicts the themes that occasion it, conveying meaning imagistically by rendering it presentational.

In literary art the term theme commonly refers to an abstract concept that is presented concretely through action and imagery. By stating that . . .

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