Tuesday, December 21, 2010


By: Jayson Patalinghug
email: king_sky92@yahoo.com
Please read and understand these theories first before you start reading and criticizing our works here. If you have questions and clarifications, you can send me email and I will get back to you.


In this blog we deal with a lot of reading and criticism. It is expected because this is a literary blog. You are dwelling with different types of writers with different taste and style. Some writings may inspire us and some may frustrate us and there are some that might offend us. This is the very reason why I write this article. It aims to guide our readers to be civil and to avoid discrimination on someone else works.

Criticism and discrimination are two different things. Criticism involves analysis and sound judgement while discrimination is very subjective and most of the time illogical. Let us not discriminate because in this blog we encourage everyone to read and write. If we discriminate, we are killing the literary desire of an individual. It destroys a dream of someone whose soul is filled with hope and aspiration. Remember that literature reflects life itself.

In order to criticize a certain piece of work, one must understand the different literary theories. There are many literary theories to mention, but I will focus only to those that are already established and used in the academe.

There are four foundation theories in literary criticism; The Mimetic, Expressive, Objective, and Affective. In this post we will only discuss the first theory and the rest will be tackled in succeeding posts.

Mimetic theory is considered as the universal foundation of literature and schools of literary criticisms. Mimeses is an idea that literature imitates reality, an idea that traces back to Plato who believed that reality only exist in the mind and to Aristotle who believed that the universal can be found in the concrete. This idea is developed in the visual arts during the renaissance and the enlightenment.

Philosophers and writers including Aristotle, Plato, Moliere, Shakespeare, Racine, Diderot, and Rousseau applied mimetic theory of literary criticism to their works and lives; modern thinker such Benjamin, Derrida, and Girard have reworked and reapplied their ideas.

A Mimetic reader aims to determine how well a work of literature connects with real world. It can be broadened to include approaches that deal with the spiritual and symbolic, the images that connect people of all times and cultures. They analyze the accuracy of a literary work and its morality. They consider whether or not it shows how people really act, and whether or not it is correct. A mimetic reader assesses a literary work through the prism of his or her own time, judging the text to his own value system.

This theory is best used to reflect on social realities reflected on a certain text. A mimetic reader does not read and analyze the text as it is. They go beyond imagination looking on symbols and archetypes. These symbols will link the fictitious event, characters and settings into the real world. Example to this is the novel written by C.S. Lewis entitled The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan is not just a magical lion, He is a representation of JESUS. Why? A Christian reader would know as it is written in the book of Geneses chapter 49 verses 8-12, Revelations chapter 5 verses 8-10 and chapter 6 verses 12-17. A mimetic reader always look for meaning and links that would bridge the fiction he or she is reading into what is existing in the real world.

Sometimes there are mimetic readers who are very close minded and only focus on their own set of standards and value system. This happens when the reader’s subjective bias leads to dogmatic condemnation and censorship.  Many works otherwise labelled aesthetically great have been black listed, banned or burned throughout the history by moral critics or shall we say hypocrites. A few of these banned works are "Ulysses" by James Joyce, "Candide" by Voltarie, "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman, works by Jean Jacques Rousseau and "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewall.

Today we are faced with this kind discrimination. An example is our friend Mike Juha who received a lot of negative feedback about his gay themed blog. These people are concerned with what they call morality basing on their own standards. Their minds are closed to what they believe is moral. They have forgotten to be logical in criticizing a work of literature. They have forgotten to read beyond letters and look for symbols and archetypes that would open the door in deeper understanding the realities that is happening in our society. After all we are reading a Literature of Life.

Next topic: Expressive Readers

Sources: History of Literary Criticism by Maggie Mertens Encyclopedia Britannica: Literary CriticismDictionary of the History of Ideas: Literary Criticism. 

No comments: