English at Work
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The tasks of stylistics (the main points of the lecture)
1. Yet the great novelists of the English language have been, arguably without exception, also great artists in the use of words, and the challenge remains of trying to explain the nature of that artistry, and how it integrates with the larger artistic achievement of the writer. (Leech: 1985, 2)
2. … linguistic techniques are more readily adapted to the miniature exegesis of a lyric poem, than to the examination of a full-scale novel. In prose, the problem of how to select – what sample passages, what features to study – is more acute, and the incompleteness of even the most detailed analysis more apparent. (Leech: 1985, 3)
… лингвистическая техника наилучшим образом приспособлена к миниатюрному размеру лирического стихотворения и, напротив, сразу обнаруживает свои слабости в анализе многостраничного романа. В прозе проблема отбора существенных языковых признаков является более острой, а незавершённость даже самого детального анализа немедленно бросается в глаза.
… наиболее убедительной лингвистическая интерпретация выглядит в сфере художественных текстов малой формы: в лирическом стихотворении, например, в отличие от громоздкого романа. Самой острой проблемой в анализе прозы является отбор существенных языковых признаков, так как даже самый подробный анализ прозаического произведения вызывает чувство незавершённости.
3. … the study of prose style has tended to suffer from "bittiness”. A writer’s style has all too frequently been reduced to one feature, or a handful of features. (Leech: 1985, 3)
4. …no one seems to have provided a satisfactory and reliable methodology for prose style analysis. (Leech: 1985, 3)
5. … stylistics, as the study of the relation between linguistic form and literary function, cannot be reduced to mechanical objectivity. In both the literary and the linguistic spheres much rests on the intuition and personal judgement of the reader, for which a system, however good, is an aid rather than a substitute. There will always remain, as Dylan Thomas says, ‘the mystery of having been moved by words’. (Leech: 1985, 4)
6. … each writer has a linguistic ‘thumb-print’, an individual combination of linguistic habits which somehow betrays him in all that he writes. (Leech: 1985, 12)
7. Stylistics, simply defined as the (linguistic) study of style, is rarely undertaken for its own sake, simply as an exercise in describing what use is made of language. We normally study style because we want to explain something, and in general, literary stylistics has, implicitly or explicitly, the goal of explaining the relation between language and artistic function. The motivating questions are not so much what as why and how. From the linguist’s angle, it is "Why does the author here choose to express himself in this particular way?” From the critic’s viewpoint, it is "How is such-and-such an aesthetic effect achieved through language?” We should scarcely find the style of Henry James worth studying unless we assumed it could tell us something about Henry James as a literary artist. (Leech: 1985, 13)
8. "Philological circle”. Spitzer argued that the task of linguistic-literary explanation proceeded by the movement to and fro from linguistic details to the literary ‘centre’ of a work or a writer’s art. There is a cyclic motion whereby linguistic observation stimulates or modifies literary insight, and whereby literary insight in its turn stimulates further linguistic observation. This motion is something like the cycle of theory formulation and theory testing which underlies scientific method. There is no logical starting point, since we bring to a literary text simultaneously two faculties, however imperfectly developed: our ability to respond to it as a literary work and our ability to observe its language. (Leech: 1985, 13-14)
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