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The Distinction between Literariness and Literature Explained

While both literariness and literature are related to written works, they possess distinct elements that set them apart. Literature encompasses any written work, while literariness refers to a specific theory used to assess the quality of literary texts, including prose, poetry, and plays. It is essential to understand this difference.

The Definition of Literariness

Literariness is a formal writing style that distinguishes literary texts from non-literary ones. It is a combination of linguistic and structural devices that utilize specific criteria to measure the quality of a text. While there are no direct synonyms for literariness, words like "poetic," "dramatic," or "formal" can be used to describe it.

Three Perspectives on Literary Theory

  • Roman Jakobson's View on Literariness

The term "literariness" was introduced by renowned linguist Roman Jakobson, who believed that it encompasses a specific set of textual properties. According to Jakobson, literariness can be quantified and is mainly demonstrated through devices such as rhyme, meter, and repetition. He applied this theory to the study of Russian literature, particularly the works of Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy.

  • Rolf Zwaan's View on Literariness

Dutch psychologist Rolf Zwaan has a differing view on literariness, considering it an outdated concept. He disagrees with both Jakobson and fellow psychologist David Miall and claims that literariness is created through a particular way of reading, influenced by three key components. Let's delve into Miall's perspective in more detail in the next section.

  • David Miall's View on Literariness

David Miall also has a unique perspective on literariness, challenging the views of both Jakobson and Zwaan. He argues that literariness is not inherent in the text itself, but rather a result of the reader's interpretation. Miall proposes three fundamental components that contribute to literariness.

The Three Essential Components of Literariness

Miall's theory suggests that literariness is comprised of three key components:

  • A Unique Writing Style

A literary text is often characterized by a distinct writing style that includes the use of literary devices such as metaphor, personification, and simile. These devices play a significant role in elevating the quality of a text and can be used to measure literariness. For instance, William Wordsworth's poem "The World is too Much with Us" uses personification and metaphor to enhance its literary merit.

  • Defamiliarisation

Another crucial element of literariness is defamiliarisation, which refers to the use of familiar concepts presented in an unfamiliar manner. This is often achieved through the use of literary devices like metaphor and personification. In "The World is too Much with Us," Wordsworth uses the phrase "The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon" to depict the waves at night in a unique and unfamiliar way.

Through the use of defamiliarisation, the reader is prompted to view nature in a new and emotional manner, a common technique among Romantic poets. This component is closely linked to the distinct writing style outlined in the first component, as it is necessary to create defamiliarisation. Both these elements are crucial in creating literariness in a text.

The Three Components of Literariness Explained

Literariness refers to the level of literary qualities present in a text, and these qualities are typically found in exceptional pieces of literature. While literature may encompass various forms of writing, literariness specifically pertains to texts that possess a distinct writing style, defamiliarisation, and the power to transform a reader's perception of a common emotion.

The Power of Transformation in Literature

The final component of literariness is the transformation of a reader's understanding of a typical feeling. When a text possesses literariness, it has the ability to evoke a unique emotional response in the reader. This is achieved through the combination of a distinct writing style and defamiliarisation, which both serve to challenge the reader's understanding and create a new way of experiencing a particular emotion.

The Power of Defamiliarisation in Literature

In William Wordsworth's poem 'The World is too Much With Us', he states "The world is too much with us; late and soon,Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;-Little we see in Nature that is ours;We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;The winds that will be howling at all hours,And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;". Wordsworth's use of personification and metaphor in this excerpt creates defamiliarisation, altering the reader's perception of the sea and winds. This is what makes the poem a literary text.

Decoding Literary Terms and Their Role in Creating Literariness

Literary terms, the techniques and devices used by writers, are essential in enhancing the literary quality of a text. These include figurative language like metaphors, similes, and personification, as well as sound elements such as alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm. These literary terms serve a crucial role in creating a distinct style and defamiliarising concepts, engaging the reader in a unique way.

Metaphor: Transforming Familiar Ideas

A common literary device used to create defamiliarisation is metaphor. By describing one thing as something else, a metaphor presents familiar ideas or objects in a new light. For instance, in Emily Dickinson's poem 'Hope is the thing with feathers' (1891), she writes "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul". This metaphor transforms the reader's perception of hope, adding depth to the poem.

Personification: Humanising Inanimate Objects

Another effective technique for defamiliarisation is personification, which gives non-human objects human characteristics. This serves to alter the reader's understanding of the object, making it more relatable and captivating. For example, in Ted Hughes's poem 'The Thought Fox' (1973), he writes "Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox, it enters the dark hole of the head". By personifying the thought fox, Hughes creates a sense of defamiliarisation, adding to the literary value of the poem.

Neologism: Forging New Words for Fresh Meanings

Neologism is when writers create new words or combine existing ones to convey new meanings. This is often used to describe something previously undefined, bringing an element of originality and defamiliarisation to the text. A famous example of neologism is William Shakespeare's invention of the word 'barefaced' in his play 'Cymbeline', to describe being caught in a lie.

These are just a few literary terms that contribute to the literariness of a text. Be on the lookout for other devices such as rhyme, rhythm, simile, and onomatopoeia, among others.

Understanding Literariness: Key Takeaways

  • The unique style and use of literary devices are key identifying factors of literature.
  • Defamiliarisation, achieved through literary terms, alters the reader's perception of familiar ideas.
  • Transforming a normal experience into a new emotional response is the final component of literariness.
  • Literary terms, such as metaphor, personification, and neologism, create a distinct style and defamiliarise familiar ideas, making them more engaging for the reader.

The next time you read a book, poem, or play, pay attention to the literary terms used by the writer and how they contribute to the text's literariness. The more you understand these literary techniques, the deeper your appreciation of literature will be.

The Power of Literariness: Understanding Its Components and Importance

Literariness is a term that describes the style of a text, presenting familiar concepts or objects in an unfamiliar way, ultimately evoking new or different emotions in the reader. This is achieved through two key components coming together.

But what exactly do literary terms refer to? They are the techniques and devices used in writing to create a sense of literariness. These can range from literary devices like metaphors, similes, and personification, to elements such as alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm.

The Role of Artistic Devices in Creating Literariness in Texts

Literariness is an essential aspect of any text, as it engages readers and captures their attention in a new and unique way. The first component of literariness is the use of artistic devices, which are responsible for creating a sense of defamiliarization.

When it comes to genres, fantasy books stand out for their high level of literariness. This is because they often rely on artistic devices to enhance the storytelling experience and make it more gripping and immersive.

One of the main ways literariness is expressed is through a distinctive writing style. This could include the use of metaphors, personification, and other literary devices that add depth and complexity to the text. Another crucial aspect of literariness is defamiliarization, where the reader's normal emotional response is transformed, allowing for a more engaging reading experience. This can be achieved through the creation of new words or concepts, commonly referred to as neologisms.

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