"Discovering" the Fictional Worlds of Lyric Poetry

By Cervenka, Miroslav | Style, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

"Discovering" the Fictional Worlds of Lyric Poetry


Cervenka, Miroslav, Style


1. The Subject as the Center of a Fictional World

Not trying, at least for the moment, to discriminate various hierarchical levels, functions, and communication situations of the agents who act simultaneously in the work of verbal art, I would like to examine the possibilities contained in the following thesis: the fictional world of a lyric poem, or its central part, is represented by a subject.

Few theoreticians have been interested in the topic of fictional worlds in lyric poetry, some of them generally disclaiming its fictionality. The thesis on the subject as a particular world in lyric poetry was formulated clearly by Paolo Meneses, who also presents a selection of quotations to support his statement. Among them, Karlheinz Stierle's formulation seems to be promising: "the 'speaker of the utterance' is a function of [lyrical] discourse.... He or she is a speaker in search of an identity, a speaker who is articulated in the process of this quest" (436). Stierle's emphasis on the processuality of this subject has to be confronted with the opposite view. For Jan Mukarovsky, probably, the definition of lyric poetry by means of subjectivity was both trivial and too conciliatory towards the identification of the aesthetic with an expression of emotions. Therefore, he declared this subjectivity of lyric poetry to be derived from the trait that he considered to be more fundamental, namely from the "particular treatment of the theme (content)" (71). He sought this particularity because lyric poetry aims at the dissolution or weakening of the temporal dimension (which, let us add, includes Stierle's processuality of the subject). From the point of view of discriminating lyric poetry and its fictional worlds from the range of narrations, we have to agree with the Prague theoretician: the temporal dimension, compared with narrative, is surely pushed to the background in lyric poetry. In the lyric poem, the subject is not primarily presented in his or her temporal changes but rather as a "system" of both paratactic and hierarchically organized components. On the other hand, Mukarovsky's one-sided dependence of lyric subjectivity on "treating the theme" must be changed into a bilateral relation, if we take into account that it is precisely the subject where paradigms and systems are present and that precisely this presence makes possible the manifold presentation of the same theme, which for Mukarovsky is the source of the weakening of temporal linearity in lyric poetry; Mukarovsky as defender of the Durkheimian (ontologically vague) "collective consciousness" would not agree with this opinion, and it could be a reason for the dominance of temporal dimension over the subject, or its dissolution, in Mukarovsky's delimitation of lyric poetry.

My view on the subject of lyric poetry is here in conscious opposition to the contemporary concept of the subject, as formulated, for example, by Jonathan Culler: "the self is dissolved as its various functions are ascribed to impersonal systems which operate through it" (Pursuit 33). If we look at the subject as an individual using systems and paradigms for his or her own functions and operations, we can probably find the way to the processuality of the lyric subject; Stierle's search for self-identity as a movement among these systems contained inside the subject, up and down through the paradigms and from one paradigm to another, is often verbally projected into a lyric work. Such a surfing of subject through the subject represents, of course, quite a different processuality than that we know from the worlds of narrative. Successivity remains, of course, an elementary dimension, one arising from the character of the material of verbal art, but the order of elements and their causal connections, which are vital for narration, are not relevant in this model of lyric poetry. The course of time is directed by the course of mental processes of the subjects and by the factors that are independent of any mimetic time, factors connected with natural and conventionalized temporal dimensions of poetic forms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"Discovering" the Fictional Worlds of Lyric Poetry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.