Centre for Post –Graduate Studies
& Research in English,
Muslim Arts College,
How does Gerard Genette view the nature of literary criticism? (Or) Elucidate the views of Gerard Genette on the nature of literary criticism.
Gerard Genette is one of the most important literary theorists of the 20th century. He was very much influenced by the critical concepts of Plato and Aristotle. So, being a classicist, he tries to revive the classical tradition in his path –breaking essay “Structuralism and Literary Criticism.” In this essay, he throws much light on some of the important features of literary criticism, its nature, its message and also its appeal.
Gerard Genette says that literary criticism, unlike art criticism or music criticism, uses the material of its object. Thus, it speaks the language of its object. Hence, it can be called meta- literature, a literature of which literature itself is the imposed object. He also calls it a meta – language, a discourse upon discourse.
The critical activity performs three functions. The first one is critical function. By judging and appreciating works, it helps the readers to make up their minds. This function is linked to the institution of journalism. The second function of literary criticism is scientific. It studies the material, motifs, sources and origin of the works of art. It is linked to the university. The third function is literary. It probes the causes that make a work of art what it is. That is what Roman Jakobson meant when he said that the real field of literary science is not literature, but “literariness”, in other words, that which makes a specific work literary.
Genette says that it is not enough that an artist has a message. To some extent, it should be absorbed into a spectacle. Roland Barthes clearly distinguishes ecrivain, a writer, from...
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