Hello all and welcome back to our week salon. Each week I'll post query. I'll do my best to present interesting topics and if I fail, send me a topic. Last week's participation was surprising high. The questions and comments were thoughtful, critical and made for a very interesting discussion.
Mel made some interesting points, arguments which stayed with me all week. I'd like to continue with some of his points today.Today's query is:
What is your view on art for art's sake? Is art political? How much weight should we give to an author's background such as gender and race? Should literature be examined purely on the content and literary elements? What does that mean? Are there limits and value to the formalist strategy?
I remember studying critical strategies for reading in college. We looked at several and the one I believe Mel was referring to is the New Critics or Formalist Critics. These critics "focus on the formal elements of a work- its language, structure, and tone. A formalist reads literature as an independent work of art rather than as reflection of the author's state of mind or as a representation of a moment in history." New Critics give special attention to intrinsic matters in literature such as diction, irony, paradox, metaphor and symbol. Information such as biography, history, politics, economics are considered extrinsic matters to formalists.
Other strategies include biographical, psychological, historical literary, cultural, gender and feminist criticism to name a few. Have you studied any of these approaches? Regardless of an understanding of formal approaches, as a reader what is relevant to you?
I believe literature reflects who we are and what a society values at a moment in time. It is a mirror and lens. I do not believe a formalist approach alone adequately reveals the value of a work. I do not subscribe to the notion of art for art's sake. Art is more than an expression of aesthetic worth. It is to quote Elma Lewis, "I don't understand art for art's sake. Art is the guts of the people."
What's your opinion?