Moulay Ismail University Faculty of Arts and Humanities Department of English Master Program ‘’ Communication in Contexts’’ Approaches to Criticism Prof. Kh. Amar Critical Approaches To Literature. David Daiches ‘’Imitation and Instruction’’ Soufiane Adrane
Pope’s notion is a series of generalizations and the difficulties of criticizing.
It takes the major questions for granted, and we cannot learn from it:
whether the instruction we receive from poetry is instruction in the facts of
human nature or moral instruction.
or whether he would agree with Dryden at all in including instruction as one
of the functions of poetry.
nor he does tell us whether the pleasure in effective expression is the main
joy and value of poetry. Dr Johnson Preface: ‘’Nothing can please many, and please long, but just Representations of general nature.’’ The implication of this sentence is clear: It is the duty of the poet to please. The way to please the greatest number over The longest period of time to provide accurate pictures of general human nature.
Dr Johnson praises Shakespeare: ‘’The poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life. ‘’Shakespeare has no heroes; his scenes are occupied only by men, who act and speak As the reader thinks that he could himself have spoken or acted on the same occasion.’’
He means that his heroes illustrate and act according to the general law of human
nature. They’re not supermen, but men, whom we recognize as fellow human beings. Aristotle: ‘’… poetry is more philosophical and more serious than history because Poetry tends to render the general truths while history gives the particular facts.’’ Johnson is similarly contrasting the general and the particular. Reality and generality Are in a sense identified: what is most general is what is most real. The implication here Is that human nature does not change. Does the poet reach out to the universal through the particular?
Johnson’s praise of Shakespeare's psycho-logical realism is by implication a
recognition of the importance of the particular, through which the general must Be presented. No character in a work of fiction or drama can appear real if he is not Individualized.
Johnson and Dryden see literature as a form of knowledge, it is valuable for its Illustration and illumination of human nature. We derive pleasure from seeing Human nature. Imlac insists that the poet must study all kinds of men of different ages and countries; the poet must have a greater store of particulars through which to illustrate The known generalities. The pleasure the reader gets derives from his recognition in These different characters of general human nature as he knows it.
It would be difficult to obtain from Johnson’s criticism any notion that the didactic
effect of literature lies in its teaching us new things about human nature.
Dr Johnson’s dilemma: ‘’poetry has the higher function of moral instruction.’’ ‘’the end of writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct by pleasing.’’ ‘’the greatest graces of a play, are to copy nature and instruct life’’ Johnson discusses Shakespeare’s faults: ‘’ … for it is always a writer’s duty to make The world better, and justice is a virtue independent on time and place.’’ If a poet’s duty is both to represent human nature and to arrange his story so that It provides moral instruction for the reader, then it must follow that human nature In itself must be edifying. Sidney agreed that poetry should be morally instructive, but, well aware that life As it is does not convey a moral lesson to the reader, he insisted that poet create A new and better world.
Johnson wants to have it both ways. As we have seen, this is fair enough if he
believes that the real world is in fact edifying, but he know very well that it is not.
To hold a view of literature which is at once imitative and didactic or instructive one must be a very special kind of optimist. ‘’some the eighteenth century writers May have had this kind of optimism, but Johnson certainly did not.
‘’Almost a Remembrance’’ We have seen that for Johnson the imitation of human nature which the poet Provided gave to the reader a recognition of what he was likely to have known Already. The poet illustrates rather than reveals. Johnson insist that great poets are known by the way in which they reveal and Illustrate recognizable human nature, he felt that they also in some way instruct Us in aspects of human nature we had not known before.
the fact is that neither Dryden nor Pope nor Johnson is very explicit on this issue.
they all seem sometimes to talk as though the poet provides new exploration
the human situation and at other times as though he simply illustrated effectively and convincingly what we know to be true. Keats’ ‘’almost a Remembrance.’’ we can recognize what we had not previously known. When we see new knowledge rendered in the special way the poet employs, we see it both as new and as familiar, and our reaction combines recognition with insight.