The Greek philosopher and scholar Aristotle (384-322 BC) is the first great representative of the constructive school of thought. His (the surviving fragment of which is limited to an analysis of tragedy and epic poetry) has sometimes been dismissed as a recipe book for the writing of potboilers. Certainly, Aristotle is primarily interested in the theoretical construction of tragedy, much as an architect might analyze the construction of a temple, but he is not exclusively objective and matter of fact. He does, however, regard the expressive elements in literature as of secondary importance, and the terms he uses to describe them have been open to interpretation and a matter of controversy ever since.
"Vergil is seen to portray female characters on both the human and the divine levels as irrational and subordinate, while male characters are rational and hierarchially superior" (Wiltshire) While trying to prove her conviction of Vergil's epic, she goes on to say, "for example, Perkell hypothesizes that Vergil altered the traditional stories about Creusa and Dido expressly in order to portray women as victims of the Roman mission and Aeneas's inattention." (Wiltshire) While she does admit that Vergil did not only discredit women, but men too, she felt that his feeling towards...
and threw purple robes over them, his usual dress.
The first viewpoint is on a personal level; during the course of the epic, Aeneas paid the price when his father, wife, lover, and son of his ally were killed, or killed themselves....
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Popular literature on the other hand is habitually tendentious both deliberately and unconsciously. It reflects and stimulates the prejudices and parochialism of its audience. Most of the literary conflicts that have seized the totalitarian countries during the twentieth century stem directly from relentless efforts by the state to reduce elite literature to the level of the popular. The great proletarian novels of our time have been produced, not by Russians, but by American Negroes, Japanese, Germans, and most proletarian of all a German-American living in Mexico, B. Traven. Government control and censorship can inhibit literary development, perhaps deform it a little, and can destroy authors outright; but, whether in the France of Louis XIV or in the Soviet Union of the twentieth century, it cannot be said to have a fundamental effect upon the course of literature.
VIRGIL, AENEID BOOK 1 - Theoi Classical Texts Library
Hippolyte Taine, the nineteenth-century French critic, evolved an ecological theory of literature. He looked first and foremost to the national characteristics of western European literatures, and he found the source of these characteristics in the climate and soil of each respective nation. His (5 vols., 1863-1869) is an extensive elaboration of these ideas. It is doubtful that anyone today would agree with the simplistic terms in which Taine states his thesis. It is obvious that Russian literature differs from English or French from German. English books are written by Englishmen, their scenes are commonly laid in England, they are usually about Englishmen and they are designed to be read by Englishmen at least in the first instance. But modern civilization becomes more and more a world civilization, wherein works of all peoples flow into a general fund of literature. It is not unusual to read a novel by a Japanese author one week and one by a black writer from West Africa the next. Writers are themselves affected by this cross-fertilization. Certainly, the work of the great nineteenth-century Russian novelists has had more influence on twentieth-century American writers than has the work of their own literary ancestors. Poetry does not circulate so readily, because catching its true significance in translation is so very difficult to accomplish. Nevertheless, for the past hundred years or so, the influence of French poetry upon all the literatures of the civilized world has not just been important, it has been preeminent. The tendentious elements of literature propaganda for race, nation, or religion have been more and more eroded in this process of wholesale cultural exchange.
Virgil: The Aeneid, Book VI: a new downloadable English translation.
The latter half of the twentieth century has seen an even greater change in popular literature. Writing is a static medium: that is to say, a book is read by one person at a time; it permits recollection and anticipation; the reader can go back to check a point or move ahead to find out how the story ends. In radio, television, and the cinema the medium is fluent; the audience is a collectivity and is at the mercy of time. It cannot pause to reflect or to understand more fully without missing another part of the action, nor can it go back or forward. Marshall McLuhan in his book (1964) became famous for erecting a whole structure of aesthetic, sociological, and philosophical theory upon this fact. But it remains to be seen whether the new, fluent materials of communication are going to make so very many changes in civilization, let alone in the human mind mankind has, after all, been influenced for thousands of years by the popular, fluent arts of music and drama. Even the most transitory television serial was written down before it was performed, and the script can be consulted in the files. Before the invention of writing, all literature was fluent because it was contained in peoples memory. In a sense it was more fluent than music, because it was harder to remember. Man in mass society becomes increasingly a creature of the moment, but the reasons for this are undoubtedly more fundamental than his forms of entertainment.