The 6 features that help differentiate literary texts from others

Topics: The Lord of the Rings, Literary theory, Literature Pages: 7 (2420 words) Published: April 12, 2014

Carter argues that there are six particular features which can help differentiate literary texts from others and that a literary texts will exhibit most or all of them. These features are medium independence, genre-mixing, semantic density, polysemy, displaced interaction and text patterning. (Carter, 1997, cited in Thornborrow, 2006, p.81-85)

If I look at the first feature identified by Carter, medium independence which means that a literary text does not rely on another medium or media to be read ,(Carter, 1997, cited in Thornborrow, 2006, p.81 ) and apply it to my texts, I can see that the extract from The Lord of The Rings is indeed medium independent. The extract does not need photos and the text “stands up on its own”, it needs no additional information. By contrast, the advertisement from the online catalogue is media dependant. The text at the beginning and the end describes a ring which is obviously for sale so a photo seems to be quite necessary as I do not think many people would buy a piece of jewellery without seeing it no matter how appealing the description is. The text itself seems to beg for an accompanying photo so I think it can safely be said that it is medium dependant.

The second feature identified by Carter is genre-mixing which is the idea that any style of writing not necessarily associated with a literary context can be used to create a literary effect. (Carter, 1997, cited in Thornborrow, 2006, p.82) If I am to look at the Lord of The Rings extract, there is some genre-mixing although not very much, the extract is obviously part of a novel but the last two lines read like poetry. Of course poetic features are usually associated with a literary context by their very nature so what those last two poetic lines do for the rest of the text is to “elevate” it, that is, convey the feeling that the extract has literary pretences at the very least or is simply literary in some ways. In the second text, genre-mixing is more obviously present, the first paragraph is concise as it describes a ring which is for sale but the rest of the text which introduces Jade Jagger as the designer of the ring is mainly written in journalistic style. The last two lines go back to “advertisement” written style.

Semantic density, the third feature identified by Carter is deemed by him to be very important. He believes that semantic density is a clear sign of the literariness of a text. (Carter, 1997, cited in Thornborrow, 2006, p.82) The Lord of The Rings extract has semantic density. One cannot escape the sound patterning and many alliterations which are present in a lot of the text. The text is actually peppered with it. For example, “...the wizard stood looking at the fire ; then he stooped and removed the ring....” or: “.....he now saw fine lines, finer than the finest pen-strokes, running along the ring, outside and inside:lines of fire that seemed to form the letters of a flowing script.” The actual sound patterning along with the syntactic arrangement shows clear semantic density. The use of the adjective fine along with two of its adverbs finer and finest coupled with the sound patterning serves to show how “fine” the script on the ring actually is. Similarly, the alliteration in “running” and “ring” plus the sound patterning as well as the two opposites adjectives “outside and inside” that immediately follow before going back to the “lines” which are now made of “fire” that “form” the letters of a “flowing” script (alliteration plus sound patterning again) give the reader a vivid picture of the actual ring.

There is also contrast in the text. One example is “silent” and “clack”, another is “bright” and “remote”, it is as if those contrasts reflect the contrast between the two worlds, one which is Mordor, faint but unmistakeably dangerous and the normal peaceful world of the Shire. I must point out the seemingly random word association of the “clack” of “Sam's shears”. The “clack” which is...

References: Maybin,J., Pearce,M., 2006, Literature and creativity in English, “The Art of English:Literary Creativity”, Palgrave McMillan, The Open University
Eagleton,T. (1993), Literary Theory: An Introduction, Oxford, Blackwell,pp.9-11)
Carter, R, (1997), Investigating English Discourse:Language, Literacy and Literature, London, Routledge
Thornborrow J., 2006, chapter 2: ”Poetic Language”, The Art of English:Literary Creativity,, Palgrave McMillan, The Open University
Short,M.,1996, Exploring The Language of Poems, Plays, and Prose, Addison Wesley Longman Limited
Papen, U&Tusting, K, 2006, Chapter 7:Literacies, Collaboration and Context,The Art of English:Everyday Creativity, Palgrave McMillan, The Open University.
Semino, S., 2006, Reading C:Cognitive Poetics, The Art of English: Literary Creativity, Palgrave McMillan, The Open University
Seen,G. And Gavins, J. (2003), Contextualising cognitive poetics, in J.Gavins and G.Steen (eds), Cognitive Poetics in Practice, London, Routledge
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