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The “New Stylistics” (CHRISTIAN MAIR's article)
The "New Stylistics” — A Success Story or the Story of Successful Self-Deception?
In the following, I will review the present state of the art in the "New Stylistic" analysis of prose fiction. Research in this field often remains unsatisfactory because longer works of prose fiction are usually stripped of their textual unity and their socio-historical significance. As I will try to show, this situation might be remedied by consciously conducting the stylistic analysis of prose fiction in a framework that is "textlinguistic" and socio-linguistic in orientation.
1. Has the New Stylistics come of age?
The term "New Stylistics”, which I borrow from Roger Fowler, one of the foremost practitioners of the art,1 covers a body of work whose common feature is that linguistic terminology and methods are introduced into the study of literary style. In terms of popularity and the quantity of published material, 2 the New Stylistics has proved to be the most successful attempt at bridging the gap between linguistics and literary scholarship so far — particularly in the English-speaking world.
Surveying the field in 1980, Elizabeth Closs Traugott made the following assessment, which is as hopeful as it is self-confident:
At the present time, the linguistic analysis of literature is one of the most active and creative areas of literary studies.3
This apparent academic success-story has recently been completed with the publication within a very short time of four [!] introductory textbooks to the field: Elizabeth Closs Traugott and Mary Louise Pratt, Linguistics for Students of Literature (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980); Geoffrey Leech and Michael H. Short, Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose (London: Longman, 1981); Ronald Carter, ed., Language and Literature: An Introductory Reader in Stylistics (London: Allen and Unwin, 1982); Michael Cummings and Robert Simmons, The Language of Literature: A Stylistic Introduction to the Study of Literature (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1983). While the last three books can be placed squarely in the mainstream of linguistic stylistics (cf. the formulation of the titles), Traugott/Pratt is a more general introduction. Nevertheless, all four books share important features:
- They make do with relatively little technical and theoretical apparatus. The orientation is practical, i. e. on the interpretation of a given literary text rather than on the construction of abstract models of "textuality" or "literariness". 4
- The lay-out testifies to the authors' didactic aspirations, the most obvious sign of this being the tasks and exercises, which are appended to almost all chapters and sections.
- All four books are available in (relatively) cheap paperback editions and thus remain within the reach of an undergraduate audience.
In view of these three facts it is safe to say that these books will make the New Stylistic approach even more popular among students of literature in the years to come.
For reasons, which I will go into below, I do not think that the astounding breakthrough of stylistic studies in recent years is exclusively due to the convincing results
the discipline has come up with so far. In fact, the very premises of much work in stylistics need questioning.
In doing so, I have decided to focus on the four introductory textbooks mentioned above, because they may be assumed to present the common core of stylistic doctrine at the moment. Moreover, most of the authors and editors of the books in question have made important previous contributions to the field.5 In the case of Cummings and Simmons, who are "newcomers", M. A. K. Halliday, one of the most famous British stylisticians, 6 has, as it were, sanctioned their enterprise by contributing a lengthy programmatic foreword.
As is evidenced by the publication of the above coursebooks, quite a few stylisticians now seem to feel that there is in the field a generally agreed-upon common core of facts, principles and methods which it is safe to impart to the beginner and the interested layman. A synthesis between linguistics and literary scholarship, moreover, seems to be highly desirable for both parties concerned. For the literary scholar, a firm grasp of linguistic facts is all the more necessary in view of a literature which is increasingly given to linguistic experimentation. Like many philosophers and social scientists, writers and critics are also increasingly aware today of the power of language in mediating our view of reality, in education and in social control. Finally, linguistics has long had a fascination for practitioners in other areas of the human sciences on account of the explicitness and the scientific rigour of structuralist methods, and it is, therefore, not surprising that literary scholars should have tried to shore up their arguments by having recourse to apparently incontestable linguistic facts.
The fascination has not worked one way only. When linguists ventured beyond the sentence and developed the notion of "text", literary texts, which, after all, are more often than not marked by an exceptionally high degree of linguistic inventiveness, came in handy as objects of research. Furthermore, the rapid development of stylistics in the seventies ties in with a general trend in linguistics: there has been a decided backlash against a linguistics of "competence" as advocated by Noam Chomsky and the Transformational School and a concomitant tendency to study language in use and thereby "apply" linguistic methods and findings to other areas of inquiry, such as, for example, literature.
In short, linguistics and literary scholarship seem to have moved closer together in answer to newly emerging priorities in both fields and for their mutual benefit. However, the success story outlined above has not been without blemishes. The very usefulness of integrating a literary scholar’s aims and a linguist's methods, which is the professed goal of most current work in stylistics,7 was questioned practically from the start.
2. The Critical Record
In a well-known controversy between Roger Fowler (New Stylistician) and F. W. Bateson ("traditional" literary scholar), the latter spoke out against linguistically oriented interpretation, accusing the (then very) New Stylisticians of — among other things — rigging up an inflated terminological apparatus that yielded only scant results most of which were truisms into the bargain.8 Likewise, Rene Wellek stated rather bluntly that for him the usefulness of linguistics ended where literary scholarship in the proper sense of the term began.9
However, it was not only traditionally minded literary scholars like Wellek and Bateson who rejected the New Stylistics. One of the most devastating critiques of the entire field was published in 1973 and is by Stanley E. Fish, who had himself contributed to the discipline.10 Fish's critique attacks both the results and the basic assumptions of stylistics. Thereby, Fish is, one has to admit, nearly always able to substantiate his allegations by means of numerous examples taken from previous work in the field. The points, which he specifically concentrates on, are the following:
- Fish accuses linguistically oriented stylisticians of laboriously gathering a mass of (more often than not irrelevant) linguistic data first and then interpreting these in ways that are either totally arbitrary or simply tautological. Nevertheless, the stylisticians’ claim of superior objectivity is not restricted to the process of collecting data but habitually extended to support questionable inferences drawn from these data.
- By insisting on relatively firm and stable correlations between particular formal features of a text and its semantic message, the stylisticians underestimate the ''activity and the interpretive freedom of the reader. As to this point, Fish's criticism is, of course, informed by recent work in literary theory, notably the esthetics of reception. I would like to add, though, that in this respect the stylisticians are as open to criticism on purely linguistic grounds, as all currently prevailing linguistic theories advise extreme caution in establishing direct links between formal linguistic properties of a text and its meaning, which can best be described as a complex, multifariously mediated interplay of formal properties, the semantic content of words and sentences and, last but not least, the situational context of the utterance.
- Fish not only points out inconsistencies in the stylisticians’ mode of argumentation and criticizes the assumptions on which their work is based; he also accuses them of an unwillingness to squarely face basic methodological issues. The argument which many stylisticians embark on instead is, according to Fish, to excuse the shortcomings of present work by expressing hopes for the future achievement of goals which are in principle unattainable (such as the establishment of "personality syntax paradigms”11 or even an exhaustive, exact and rigorously formalized linguistic description of any given text).
Fish's arguments, while damaging enough in themselves, are only part of the criticism that is habitually levelled against linguistic stylistics. Especially in German, but also in English scholarship it is pointed out that in linguistically oriented interpretations of literary works scant attention is paid to the socio-historical background of the text, its author and its audiences.12 Linguistic criticism thus turns out to be but the latest re-incarnation of New Critical doctrine in literary studies.
The relatively narrow selection of literary texts which until recently was analyzed by the New Stylisticians bears out this allegation. There is a decided bias towards short, tightly structured forms, preferably lyric poetry, whose language obviously deviates from the norms of everyday usage. If prose narrative is dealt with at all, it is usually very short extracts from modernist novels whose language is close to that of poetry in many respects. Realistic novels or plays in the "kitchen-sink" vein, in which the language used is close to the common usage of the day and should, therefore, be easiest to analyse linguistically, are hardly treated at all. This bias towards a certain type of literary writing is shared, but not reflected upon, by the authors of the books under review here.13
3. The Level of Methodological Sophistication in the Textbooks Reviewed
Three of the books under review, namely Traugott/Pratt, Carter, ed., and Cummings/ Simmons treat literature in general (with examples from drama, however, conspicuously lacking), while the fourth, Leech/Short, deals with fiction only. For two reasons, I will concentrate mainly on the way works of fiction are dealt with.
1. Fiction being the "common denominator" of all four works, it is easiest to guarantee a fair comparison if a critique is restricted to this field.
2. In the stylistic analysis of the short lyric poem, phonetic, lexical and syntactic features can often be directly related to the meaning of the entire text. Intermediate levels of textual organization (stanzas, motifs, etc.) are fairly obvious and can, moreover, be explained in terms of a very sophisticated traditional poetics. In novels, however, it is much more difficult to see how the structures of the innumerable sentences the work is made up of should intersect with the overall message. Admittedly, the practice of taking choice passages and analyzing them as if they were self-contained poems is a necessary first step in the stylistic analysis of novels. But the fact that so much work in the field never gets beyond this stage shows that a methodological impasse has been reached. Few stylisticians seem to be willing to face the fact that a stylistics of prose fiction is only possible in a framework provided by textlinguistics and sociolinguistically oriented discourse analysis.
In the following, I will investigate to what extent the four textbooks under review take account of the critical arguments raised against stylistics which I have outlined above. I will proceed by investigating:
1. whether stylisticians still claim privileged status for their approach to literature. (The rather superficial argument usually put forward in support of this claim is that, literary works being verbal artifacts, the best way of approaching them is through their language.14 Among other linguists, Edward Sapir refuted this facile type of linguistic reductionism already in 1921.15)
2. whether explanatory "short circuits" are established between graphemic, morphological and syntactic features of a text and the meanings and messages a critic
perceives in it, or whether textual and contextual aspects are accorded due treatment.
3. whether linguistic methods and literary aims are integrated sufficiently in order to supply an independent methodological basis suited to the purposes of stylistic analysis.
3.1. Overstated Claims for Objectivity?
In this respect all four books can be exonerated from the charges Fish levelled against the stylisticians of his day. A tone of sensible moderation prevails throughout. Most authors freely admit that their activity is not objective in a scientific sense but merely a means of checking and possibly validating their own subjective intuitions, which are considered to be as indispensable to the stylistician as they are to any other literary scholar. The following quotation from Leech/Short is representative:
(. . .) it would be wrong to expect linguistics to provide an objective, mechanical technique of stylistic analysis. One major concern of stylistics is to check or validate intuitions by detailed analysis, but stylistics is also a dialogue between literary reader and linguistic observer, in which insight, not mere objectivity, is the goal.16
This is essentially a return to a position which was already taken by Spitzer (whom Leech/Short approvingly quote, cf. p. 13). Later methodological departures, which grew out of a certain suspicion on the part of linguists towards Spitzer's "impressionism", seem to have been laid to rest for the time being. Thus, statistical, computer-aided approaches to style, which had their heyday in the late sixties, 17 are no longer regarded as the safest approach to the phenomenon of style. Leech/Short, for example demonstrate why extended statistical profiles do not usually result in relevant stylistical insights and argue for the rough ad-hoc count in the small number of cases in which the mere frequency of a stylistic feature is decisive (cf. p. 42—73, esp. 71—2). Likewise, transformational treatments of style (as proposed by Ohmann and others18 play a relatively minor role. The reason for this is, obviously, that the transformationalist apparatus is ill equipped to handle stylistic features that go beyond the level of the sentence and that the autonomous syntactic component of the transformation model of grammar makes it particularly difficult to establish links between grammatical form and meaning.
From the evidence in the four books under review here, the quest for objectivity in linguistic stylistics has been quietly relinquished. While Spitzer's "philological circle” is definitely a valid epistemological model in stylistic studies, it is yet premature to stop looking for more rigorously scientific procedures, as practical stylisticians seem to have done at present. It is not the goal, making literary studies more objective and precise, which was mistaken, but the means employed to achieve it, namely mathematical statistics or a context-free model of transformational sentence grammar. As I shall argue below, there are literary phenomena on the textual level such as narrative point-of-view or the sociolinguistic varieties employed in a work, which decisively influence "style" and which can certainly be elucidated a great deal in the light of recent work in sociolinguistics, textlinguistics and pragmatics.
3.2. Premature Semantic Interpretation of Formal Features
The premature semantic interpretation of phonological, morphological, lexical or syntactic features has two main reasons:
1. The features in question are accorded meanings irrespective of how they interrelate with other features in the text or irrespective of their relation to suprasentential, i.e. textual categories such as register or narrative point-of-view.
2. Culturally or historically determined features of a text, such as the influence of the various rhetorical ideals adhered to by writers at different times, are disregarded.
In order to avoid the pitfalls sketched above, stylistic studies must be based on a linguistic model which acknowledges the importance of the textual dimension in language and of the influence of socio-cultural factors on the shape of a text. These conditions are fulfilled in the four books under review here. Three of them, namely Leech/Short, Carter, ed., and Cummings/Simmons rely heavily on systemic or "functional” grammar as developed by the British linguist M. A. K. Halliday, a theory which is textlinguistic and communicative in orientation.19 Traugott/Pratt, whose view of phonology, morphology and syntax is clearly influenced by transformational grammar, nevertheless take account of recent work in sociolinguistics and speech-act theory and thus provide for an eclectic approach which is in theory eminently suitable for the purposes of stylistics.
Despite an adequate theoretical foundation, however, the short-circuiting of a text's formal properties and supposed "meanings" remains a common practice. Cummings/Simmons is particularly rife with examples, of which I would like to discuss the most obvious one in depth.
In chapter 3 (p. 89—108) the authors set out to compare extracts from Donne's sermons and a novel by Ernest Hemingway. Such a farfetched comparison invites criticism on several counts. First, a novel and a sermon belong to entirely different types of text so that even a comparison between the "style" of a 1920s sermon and Hemingway's novel would be unlikely to yield any tangible results. Moreover, the reader is not told how the extremely short passages analysed function within the longer texts they are taken from and whether they are in any way representative at all. Finally, the three centuries separating Hemingway from Donne are quietly passed over. No account whatsoever is taken of the profound changes in the stylistic norms of written English, the background against which the achievement of each writer has to be seen.
What, then, do Cummings/Simmons want to prove by this questionable comparison? In fact, their main aim is to labour an obvious point, namely that Donne’s universe of thought is hierarchic while Hemingway's is existential. This, they claim, is reflected in the language of the passages analysed: in the case of Donne, the "ordering of information into subordinate or main clauses indicates a sense of hierarchy and value" (p. 91). Hemingway's loose and trailing sentences (which, as Cummings/Simmons fail to mention, may well be the norm in contemporary narrative regardless of its value-orientation), on the other hand, do not.
This is exactly the facile equation between linguistic form and literary meaning which Fish so justly ridicules. One wonders, indeed, whether the Bible or Puritan "plain style", which both feature extensive parataxis, thereby reject a hierarchically structured universe of values.
Cummings/Simmons unwittingly supply ample proof for the futility of their undertaking elsewhere in their book. Syntactic parallelism, the repetition with variations of particular syntactic structures, which in the case of Donne so easily ties in with the dean's "belief in the unity of God's creation" (p. 92), just as easily comes to stand for disorientation and psychic anxiety in the discussion of a poem by Sylvia Plath. The effect this time is, as the authors put it, "monotonous, hypnotic, incantatory, ritualistic" (p. 213).
In short, Cummings/Simmons never venture beyond analyzing short passages, and the suprasentential factors influencing the style of prose fiction are not dealt with to a sufficient degree (cf. the token treatment of "Context" in the very last chapter, which is highly unsatisfactory into the bargain).
As regards the insights supposed to spring from the stylistic analysis of literary texts, they are often in direct proportion to the degree of methodological sophistication evinced by Cummings/Simmons. As to Donne and Hemingway, "(b)oth men are gifted writers after all” (p. 94). In Faulkner, "(t)he style of the passage is perfectly coincident with its themes: ornate, rich, regal and serious” (p. 111). This, we are told, "is what people expect from Faulkner” (ibid.).
It is significant that whenever Cummings/Simmons achieve acceptable results, it is precisely because they give up the practice of endowing isolated linguistic facts with meanings — in ways that are at times pedantic, at times fanciful — and begin to introduce textlinguistic notions such as the concept of "register” into their argument. In this way, they provide a means of sensibly relating various syntactic and lexical data to one another, as in their discussion of a "mock-heroic" passage in Fielding’s Tow Jones (cf. p. 132-50).
In theory, Traugott/Pratt are well aware of the fact that "(w)hile phonology, syntax and semantics focus on language as a formal system of elements and rules for combining them, pragmatics focuses on language as a purposeful form of behavior and examines how in these respects, too, language is rule governed" (p. 226). Their discussion even includes chapters on "Point of View in Narrative Fiction" (p. 287—96) or "Stereotypic vs. Variable Representations of Language Varieties" (p. 338—49). In practice, however, this does not prevent them from assigning most amazing meanings to parts of the afore-mentioned "formal system of elements". In an analysis of a ten-line passage from Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, for example, Traugott/Pratt make much of the fact that the protagonist is only referred to by his proper name or the personal pronoun:
The almost machine-gun-like repetition of he . . . he . . ., so characteristic of Hemingway, with little modification between deep and surface structure, has the special effect of drawing attention to the person [why ?!], while at the same time implying an almost automatic response [ ?] (p. 170).
What Traugott/Pratt fail to see here is the fact that the way a narrator refers to the protagonist is one of the most important means of establishing narrative point-of-view in the text. In fact, it is hard to think of Hemingway as referring to Robert Jordan as "our hero", "the courageous American sapper", or some such, so that — contrary to what Traugott/Pratt's discussion implies — the he-sequences are not purely a matter of free stylistic choice on the syntactic level. Traugott/Pratt analysing another passage from Hemingway is a sentence that deserves to be quoted:
The language, although externally simple in ways that resemble the first passage [i.e. the one mentioned above], is actually in deep structure relatively complex and contributes to the total orgasmic effect of the scene (p. 172).
In a loose sense, this statement is tautological: as the reader perceives the said effect only in the written text, language must in some way be involved. Linguistically speaking, however, it is pure nonsense: complex deep structures that are simplified on the way to the surface may occasionally make a statement ambiguous in meaning, but do not make it any more fit to contribute to "orgasmic effects".
In Carter, ed., the contributors generally operate on a higher theoretical level and are more aware of their own limitations. Nevertheless, comparably facile arguments occasionally enter into their discussions as well. In Ron Carter's interpretation of Hemingway’s "Cat in the Rain”, for example, the interpreter's intuition is not primarily substantiated by linguistic facts but by what Carter arbitrarily takes the linguistic facts to mean. Carter first states his intuition, namely that the story conveys the frustration of the protagonist, a young American wife. He then states a linguistic fact, namely that in the first paragraph of the story textual cohesion is achieved by a rarely employed means, the full repetition of noun phrases. Almost in the same breath, however, he attributes to this fact a meaning: he claims that it brings about a "deflation" of the reader's expectations, thus putting him in the right mood for the eventual central topic, "frustration" (cf. p. 74—5). Naturally, this may be possible in the experience of readers sharing Carter's intuitions, but it is most emphatically not a proof of the correctness or even the depth of his reading. For readers intuiting different meanings in Hemingway's story, the particular type of cohesion noted by Carter can mean lots of other things besides: a leisurely pace of narration preceding a speed-up later in the story, ceremoniousness on the part of the fictional narrator, a sense conveyed in the paragraph of the "weight" of the objects referred to in this way, and so on.
It would be easy to adduce some more instances of syntactic forms being assigned arbitrary "meanings" which perfectly suit the respective stylistician's intuitions about a text. This, however, would be useless and even unfair as it means disregarding a great amount of insightful textual criticism which is also present in the books. The general point I wish to make has, I think, been established. As long as stylisticians stick to collecting facts on the syntactic level and "below” (i.e. morphology, graphemics and phonology) without relating these facts to textual and sociolinguistic categories such as narrative point-of-view, register, variety, discourse-situation, genre, etc., they will not be able to mediate between the basically neutral component parts of the linguistic system and the meaning these parts may acquire when they are assembled in a single, concrete text, which can always be located in space and time.
Leech/Short is the only work which devotes more than token treatment to these problems. Not surprisingly, therefore, it is relatively free of the circuitous reasoning which was illustrated above. But even Leech/Short start, as it were, "from the ground up": in their "checklist of linguistic and stylistic categories" (p. 75—82) lexical and syntactic categories precede categories pertaining to "cohesion" and "context". This mirrors the order of treatment in the book (part I, mostly sentence-level analyses; part II, devoted to textual phenomena such as the various modes of speech and thought presentation in literature and their interrelations with grammar). Arguably, however, this arrangement backfires because most sentential and lexical features occurring in a text are positively determined by the writer's choices on the textual level (as has already been hinted at in the discussion of Traugott/Pratt above). Thus, free indirect discourse allows of only one way to refer to the protagonist, while in omniscient narrative a narrator may well indulge in the practice of elegant variation.20 Sentence length is frequently influenced by point-of-view, and similarly novels whose narrative voice mutates oral delivery will automatically feature little subordination, regardless of the protagonists’ intellectual sophistication or their sense of hierarchy and values. The number of evaluative adjectives in a given stretch of text is irrelevant in itself, all the more so because we have only a very vague idea of what their "normal" frequency is.21 Such a count makes sense only in relation to the number of nouns which may function as head nouns, and after it has been ascertained whether the value judgments must be attributed to a narrator, a fictional character, or both. The list could be continued almost ad infinitum, but my main point ought to be clear already. On no account must a "stylistic" feature be interpreted out of context.
3.3. Methodological Foundation
The wildly varying quality of the results obtained in the four books under review here is due to the fact that not all authors have been equally successful in reconciling the methods and interests of linguistics and literary scholarship, a synthesis which is essential for stylistic studies to be feasible.
Traugott/Pratt's title, Linguistics for Students of Literature, indicates that no methodological synthesis is attempted between the two disciplines. The linguistic apparatus is simply brought to bear on the literary text. The division into chapters (cf. table of contents) is solely dictated by linguistic considerations, with the literary texts serving as illustrative examples. While it may not be without value for the student to be given the linguistic labels for the facts which he encounters in the literary works he studies, this linguistic approach to literature is not likely to yield new and exciting results, as is, in fact, amply proved by the pedestrian quality of many (though not all) interpretations in Traugott/Pratt.
Cummings/Simmons similarly proceed from phonology via graphemics and grammar to lexis and context. This is, of course, good linguistic procedure if the language system de Saussure's "langue", or an idealized native speaker's competence are to be described. As I have pointed out above, however, such an approach is apt to destroy the textual unity of a literary work, which is always an instance of language in use, of "parole" or "performance" and, unlike the language system as a whole, cannot be described in context-free terms. In contrast to Traugott/Pratt, however, Cummings/Simmons is not a course in basic linguistics, as the emphasis is on practical textual criticism throughout. Theoretical and methodological problems resulting from the application of linguistics to literature are not discussed at all.
It is the thorough discussion of exactly these issues that makes Leech/Short superior to the other books.22 In the arrangement of their material they do not mechanically copy the order of presentation adopted in most elementary coursebooks on linguistics, with phonology preceding morphology, morphology preceding syntax, and so on. Rather, they do away with such rigid compartments and organize their presentation around the central issue, namely "style". There are most welcome discussions of methodological and theoretical foundations which are all too easily taken for granted in the other books. Together with the heavy emphasis on the textual dimension of style — part II is entirely devoted to such matters —, this helps to establish both a thorough foundation for stylistic studies and a framework in which to place the results of close analysis of isolated passages. It suffices to read Leech/Short on "The discourse situation of literature" (p. 257—71), on "Point of view and value language” (p. 272—5), or on "Speech and thought presentation" (p. 318—51) to see that, all present shortcomings notwithstanding, the linguistic analysis of literary texts is indeed a feasible undertaking that can help to clarify a great many issues in literary theory and interpretation.
It is now time to answer the question posed in the title of this essay. Is the New Stylistics a success story or merely a long record of successful self-deception? Although the discipline has now firmly established itself on the borderline between linguistics and literary studies, I think that it is no use denying the great potential for fake objectivity and oversimplification, in short: for self-deception, that is inherent in the method. The examples discussed above should underscore this point sufficiently. There has, however, been quite some improvement since 1973, the year in which Fish could with some justification dismiss the entire stylistic enterprise wholesale.
The original bias of linguistic stylistics towards the short lyric poem has undoubtedly weakened. Prose fiction, and even drama, 23 are now beginning to receive increasing attention. Styliaticians have become more flexible in applying linguistics to literature. Nowadays, the literary text is rarely "subjected" to mechanical analysis in the linguistic "machine". Rather, linguistics and literary studies are on an equal footing, and by redefining problems of literary theory in linguistic terms, linguists occasionally achieve admirable results.
The close reading of short prose passages is a method which, despite the limited value it undoubtedly has, cannot do full justice to any novel. One can, of course, trace features one has noticed this way through the length of an entire text, a procedure advocated by Lodge24 to compensate for the bittiness of the passage-analysis approach. Even this will not help a great deal, however: A novel is only incidentally a sequence of sentences, and it definitely does not derive its unity from the fact that its sentences share structural features. A novel is above all a text, and any unity it may have is mainly constituted on the textual level.
This does not invalidate the linguistic approach to novelistic style. On the contrary, linguists can contribute valuable insights into the manifold interrelationships between the language of a work and its point-of-view, as is shown, for example, by Ann Ban-field's admirable recent work on free indirect discourse.25 Also, the study of how different varieties of a language interact in a given work, or how — as often happens — they are transformed and put to new uses in the new context, is extremely relevant to any stylistic investigation of prose fiction. The initial results achieved in this field so far should encourage further work.26 In this way, for example, the form of realistic and naturalistic novels, which critics typically describe as shapeless, sprawling and amorphous, can be made visible. The linguistic analysis would then correct and elaborate on the judgments of literary criticism, and not — as has so often happened in the past — merely supply added "proof" for received literary opinion.
Naturally, these new departures are not adequately mirrored in the four introductory textbooks on which the above discussion was mainly based. But they bear witness to the fact that, despite a great number of setbacks and methodological dead-ends in the past, advances are still being made. Even in Carter, ed., one of the four textbooks reviewed, a new and exciting model of stylistic studies is offered. In her "Through Glass Darkly — Through Dark Glasses: On stylistics and political commitment — via the study of a passage from Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar'" (p. 195—214), Deirdre Burton puts forth a programme of critical reading which, if put into effect, would all but revolutionize literary studies. The emphasis would be "away from studying style qua style towards understanding some of the relationships between language, represented thought and the sociolinguistic construction of reality" (p. 210). Critics will find much to criticize in the way Burton presents her model, but her ultimate goal should be borne in mind.
1 Cf. Roger Fowler, Style and Structure in Literature: Essays in the New Stylistics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1976).
2 An early landmark in the field is Leo Spitzer, Linguistics and Literary History (Princeton, N. J., 1948). From the mid-sixties onwards one notices a virtual explosion in the number of publications in the field. As can easily be ascertained by reference to Richard Bailey and Dolores Burton, eds., English Stylistics: A Bibliography (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1968), and the annual updating of this bibliography in the periodical Style, this trend has been continuing to this day. The reader interested in a more comprehensive survey of the present state of the art than can be given here is referred to the following collections of essays: M. K. L. Ching et al., eds., Linguistic Perspectives on Literature, (London: Routledge, 1980); Donald B. Freeman, eel., Essays in Modern Stylistics (London: Methuen, 1981); Ronald Carter and Deirdre Burton, eds., Literary Text and Linguistic Study (London: Boutledge, 1982).
3 Elizabeth C. Traugott and Mary L. Pratt, Linguistics for Students of Literature (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1980), p. 19—20.
4 This is the most striking difference between work in the "New Stylistic" vein and linguistic approaches to literature which are specifically indebted to German "textlinguistics", such as T. A. Van Dijk, The Pragmatics of Language and Literature (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1976).
5 Leech's best-known previous publication in the field is definitely A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry (London: Longman, 1966). Mary Louise Pratt wrote Toward a Speech-Act Theory of Literary Discourse (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana UP, 1977). Among the contributors to Carter, ed., H. G. Widdowson, John M. Sinclair, Deirdre Burton and Walter Nash are "old hands."
6 Most noteworthy among Halliday's numerous publications on style is his "Linguistic Function and Literary Style: An Inquiry into William Golding's The Inheritors", in Seymour Chatman, ed., Literary Style: A Symposium (London: OUP, 1971), p. 330—66.
7 This aim is stated most succinctly by Henry G. Widdowson, Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature (London: Longman, 1976), p. 3: "(. . .) what distinguishes stylistics from literary criticism on the one hand and linguistics on the other is that it is a means of linking the two."
8 The original debate was conducted in Essays in Criticism 16 (1966) and 17 (1967). The contributions are reprinted in R. Fowler, The Languages of Literature (London: Rout-ledge, 1971), p. 43-80.
9 Rene Wellek, "Closing Statement", in T. A. Sebeok, ed., Style in Language (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980), p. 410-1; cf. also Wellek, ibid., p. 104.
10 Stanley E. Fish, "What is stylistics and why are they saying such terrible things about it?", in Seymour Chatman, ed., Approaches to Poetics (New York: Columbia UP, 1973), 109 —52, reprinted in Freeman, op. cit., p. 53—78. For Fish's own views see his "Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics", New Literary History 2 (1970), 123—62.
11 Fish culls this concept from Louis Milic, "Unconscious Ordering in the Prose of Swift", in Jacob Leed, ed., The Computer and Literary Style (Kent, Ohio: Kent State UP, 1966), p. 79-106.
12 Cf. Heinrich F. Plett, Textwissenschaft und Textanalyse (Heidelberg: Quelle und Meyer, 1975), p. 124—7; Klaus Baumgartner, "Der rnethodische Stand einer linguistischen Poetik", in Jahrbuch fur Internationale Germanistik 1969, p. 15—43. Ronald Carter passingly refers to the problem in Carter, ed., p. 16.
13 Thus, Hemingway, who is accorded extensive treatment in all four books (cf. Traugott/ Pratt, p. 169-74, 195, 223, 380-83, 394; Leech/Short, p. 65— 6, 174, 179—83, 322, 347-8; Carter, ed., p. 65—79, 99; Cummings/Simmons, p. 89—108), is — like Henry James, William Faulkner and James Joyce — a definite favourite. Saul Bellow, Theodore Dreiser, John Wain or John Braine, that is writers not in the mainstream of modernist literary experimentation, are conspicuously absent in all the four books under review here.
14 Cf. David Lodge, The Language of Fiction (London: Routledge, 1966), p. ix. What proponents of such a view fail to see is that almost all novels contain higher-order elements such as plot, character and symbolic networks which in literature happen to be mediated through language. This, however, does not mean that such phenomena are wholly, or even predominantly, linguistic in nature.
15 "This brings up the question whether in the art of literature there are not intertwined two distinct kinds or levels of art — a generalized non-linguistic art, which can be transferred without loss into an alien linguistic medium, and a specifically linguistic art which is not transferable.” Edward Sapir, Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech (New York: Harvester Paperback, n. d., [first published 1921]), p. 222—3.
16 Leech/Short, p. 5; cf. also Traugott/Pratt, p. 20; Carter, ed., p. 18, 60—1, 67, 113, 163.
17 Cf., for example, Leed, op. cit. (1966); Lubomir Dolezel and Richard Bailey, eds., Statistics and Style (New York 1969); Helmut Kreuzer and Rul Gunzenhäuser, eds., Mathematik und Dichtung: Versuche zur Frage einer exakten Literaturwissenschaft, 2nd ed. (München: Nymphenburger, 1967); Louis T. Milic, A Quantitative Approach to the Style of Jonathan Swift (The Hague: Mouton, 1967).
18 Richard Ohmann, "Generative Grammar and the Concept of Literary Style", Word 20 (1964), 423—39; Roderick A. Jacobs and Peter S. Rosenbaum, Transformations, Style and Meaning (Waltham, Mass.: Xerox, 1971), etc. Ohmann has meanwhile abandoned the Generative framework in favour of speech-act theory: cf. "Instrumental Style: Notes on the Theory of Speech as Action", in B. B. Kachru and F. W. Stahlke, eds., Current Trends in Stylistics (Edmonton, Alb., etc., 1972). 19 The most important aspects of the theory are briefly explained in Halliday, "Linguistic Function and Literary Style". Cf. also M. Berry, Introduction to Systemic Linguistics,vol. 1 (London: Batsford, 1975).
20 Thus, in a novel about "Harry" only a sentence such as "Was he to blame?" could be given a free-indirect-discourse reading. "Was Harry (the young lad /the little rascal/our hero, etc.) to blame ?" would inevitably be read as authorial intrusions.
21 Recent work on the Brown Corpus of Edited Present-Day American English contains information on the frequency of adjectives in a representative sample of mid-twentieth-century American fiction. Cf. W. Nelson Francis and Henry Kucera, Frequency Analysis of English Usage: Lexicon and Grammar (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982), p. 644—552. No data are available on the frequency of the subclass "evaluative adjectives".
22 As Carter, ed., is a collection of essays by various hands, a direct comparison is not possible.
23 Cf. Deirdre Burton, Dialogue and Discourse: A Sociolinguistic Approach to Modern Drama Dialogue and Naturally Occurring Conversation (London: Routledge, 1980).
24 Lodge, op. cit., p. 78—9.
28 Ann Banfield, Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction (London: Routledge, 1982).
26 Roger Fowler, Linguistics and the Novel (London 1977), p. 116-6, analyses extracts from D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers in terms of Basil Bernstein's theory of "elaborated" and "restricted" codes. He confines his pedestrian and unsysternatic analysis to the direct speech of the fictional characters and steers clear of more complicated issues such as the sociolinguistic profile of the narrator's idiom. More thorough work along these lines will not fail to yield interesting results.
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