By Meyer H. Abrams
This hugely acclaimed research analyzes some of the developments in English feedback through the first 4 a long time of this century.
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Additional resources for The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition
The original genius in fact turns out to be a kind of scientific investigator: 'The wide field of nature lies open before it, where it may range unconfined, make what discoveries it can . . as far as visible nature extends. *" Later the Reverend J. Moir, an extremist in his demand for originality in poetry, conceived genius to lie in the ability to discover *a thousand new variations, distinctions, and resemblances' in the 'familiar phenomena of nature,' and declared that original genius always gives 'the identical impres-sion it receives/" In this identification of the poet's task as novelty of discovery and particularity of description we have moved a long way from Aristotle's conception of.
The diversity of aesthetic theories, however, makes the task of the historian a very difficult one. ' disagree. The fact is that many theories of art cannot readily be compared at all, because they lack a common ground on which to meet and clash. They seem incommensurable because stated in diverse terms, or in identical terms with diverse signification, or because they are an integral part of larger systems of thought which differ in assumptions and procedure. As a result it is hard to find where they agree, where disagree, or even, what the points at issue are.
I have attempted the experiment of taking these and various other metaphors no less seriously when they occur in criticism than when they occur in poetry; for in both provinces the recourse to metaphor, although directed to different ends, is perhaps equally functional. Critical thinking, like that in all areas of human interest, has been in considerable part thinking in parallels, and critical argument has to that extent been an argument from analogy. As this inquiry will indicate, a number of concepts most rewarding in clarifying the nature and criteria of art were not found simply in the examination of aesthetic facts, but seem to have emerged from the exploration of serviceable analogues, whose properties were, by metaphorical transfer, predicated of a work of art.
The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition by Meyer H. Abrams