The Notion of Polysystem Theory

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I. Even-Zohar
Papers in Historical Poetics
The book consists of a set of articles in which the centre of attention is the notion of Polysystem. The article The Function of the Literary Polysystem in the History of Literature is mostly connected with the notion of Polysystem. Language is heterogeneous, so it is labeled as a polysystem, where highly codified stratification prevails, any minor move from one stratum to another may be taken as a major offense. Polysystem is subdivided into “canonized” (usually considered “major” literature: those kinds of literary works accepted by the “literary milieu” and usually preserved by the community as part of its cultural heritage) and “non-canonized” literature (those kinds of literary works more often than not rejected by the literary milieu as lacking “aesthetic value” and relatively quickly forgotten, e.g. detective-fiction, sentimental novels, westerns, pornographic literature, etc.). Translation plays a great role in Polysystem and in the synchrony and diachrony of a certain literature. “Epigonic” literature is kind of a literature where diachronic shifts create a situation in which norms previously known as dominant become peripheral within “the new phase of literature,” but they are still in use. Canonized literature tries to create new models of reality and attempts to illuminate the information it bears, non-canonized literature has to keep within the conventionalized models which are highly automatized. In synchrony, canonized and non-canonized systems manifest two various diachronic phases, the non-canonized overlapping with a previous canonized phase. The oppositions between the various literary systems create an ideal literary and cultural balance within the literary polysystem. This is the only way for non-canonized literature to settle in literature when canonized literature succeeds in gaining ground. The article The Relations between Primary and Secondary Systems in the Literary Polysystem...
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