CCE - 01 Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota
General Principles of Creative Writing
CCE – 01 Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota
General Principles of Creative Writing
Course Development Committee Chairman Prof. (Dr.) Vinay Kumar Pathak Vice-Chancellor Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota
Convener/Member Convener Dr. (Smt.) Kshamata Chaudhary Assistant Professor (English) Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University Kota Members ∗
Prof. H. P. Shukla U. K. Open University, Haldwani, Uttrakhand Prof. Jaya Chakravarty Head, Deptt. of English, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
∗ Dr. L. L. Yogi Retd. Principal Govt. College, Bundi ∗ Sh. Sanjay Chawla Lecturer in English Director, Sanskrit Education, Kota
Editor Sh. Sanjay Chawla, Director, Sanskrit Education, Kota Unit Writer
Dr. Premchandran 1, 2 Assistant Professor (English) Payyanur College, Payyanur Distt. Kannur (Kerala) Dr. Saurabh Agarwal 3, 4 Lecturer Govt. Manpuriya Sanskrit Shastri College Srimadopur Dr. Amrita Sharma 5, 8 Associate Professor (English) BPS Women’s University, Kanpur Kalan, Sonipat (Harayana)
Dr. Kshamata Chaudhary 6, 7, 12 Assistant Professor (English) Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University Kota Dr. Vineet Gupta 9, 10 Lecturer (English) Govt. Sanskrit College, Ajmer Dr. Rajesh Lidiya 11 Associate Professor (English) Rajasthan Technical University Kota
Academic and Administrative Prof. (Dr.) Vinay Kumar Pathak Vice-Chancellor Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota
Prof. Leela Ram Gurjar Director Academic Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota
Course Production Sh. Yogendra Goyal Assistant Production Officer Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota Published in November, 2013 © Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota
Prof. (Dr.) Karan Singh Director Material Production & Distribution Deptt. Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota
Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota General Principles of Creative Writing Units Unit No.
Unit – 1
Creative Writing and its Significance
01 – 06
Unit – 2
Types of Creative Writing- I
07 – 17
Unit – 3
Types of Creative Writing – II
18 – 28
Unit – 4
29 – 39
Unit – 5
Idea, Thought and Theme: Genesis and Structure
40 – 52
Unit – 6
Humour and Satire Writing
53 – 65
Unit – 7
66 – 76
Unit – 8
Writing for a Purpose
77 – 87
Unit – 9
88 – 94
Unit – 10 Book Review
95 – 104
Unit – 11 Press Coverage
105 – 119
Unit – 12 Critical Theories or Approaches to Literature
120 – 133
Block Introduction It's fair enough to debate the value of creative writing courses. However, my belief is that our students on our creative writing are talented and focused. Our courses shall equip students with all the aspects of writing chiselled writing. Quite apart from the commercial aspect, creative writing students are being encouraged to write their creativity in channelized form that matter to them, sometimes stories/poem , they have long wanted to tell – and that means no one is wasting their time. Are you a scribbler, a secret diarist or a would-be journalist? Do you write professionally or as a hobby? Looking for fellow enthusiasts to share your ideas with and get feedback on your own work? Then look no further. Our Creative Writing course offers the opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn a variety of techniques to improve your writing process and enhance creativity. The Beginning: Creative writing takes its first breath when the writer asks, "What can I create out of a particular feeling, image, experience, or memory?"The Purpose: It carries out a writer's compelling desire to imagine, invent, explore, or share. Writing satisfies the creative soul. It often takes on a life of its own; the writer merely follows along. The Form: Any form using a writer's imagination is suitable for creative development of some element of fiction. Some of the most common types of creative writing are poetry, essays, charactersketches, short-fiction, anecdotes, play-scripts, songs, parodies, reminiscences, historical fiction etc. The Audience: A specific audience may not be known in the beginning, and each situation is different. However, if the finished piece has a universal meaning, the story will speak to a wide range of readers and may have varied meaning for various people. The Style: A writer's style comes from an array of choices that result in the sole ownership of the finished product. The key to attaining a unique style is focused control. The writer lays out a viewpoint and if it appeals to the readers, it influences them. A good write up has the ability to rejuvenate a reader mentally and emotionally. Sometimes a good writeup evokes realisation of the abstract. As a result, the reader will see, hear, smell, taste, and feel specific things. Let it flow. A story or book has little to do with the intellect or language when we first begin. Best ideas usually emerge as a spark or image. Like dreams, they will make little sense. Follow them without questions, they will hold the key to the creative unconscious. Nurture your creativity. It is as delicate as a budding flower. Let your creative thoughts dance to the tune of imagination. This book shall really help you to know how a creative writer should proceed in writing and what different areas of creative writings are there.
Unit - 1 Creative Writing and its Significance Structure 1.0 Objectives 1.1 Introduction 1.2 What is Creative Writing? 1.3 Scope and Area of Creative writing 1.4 Analysing a Creative Composition 1.5 Things that must be avoided by a Writer 1.6 Gradation of Creative Writing from Pulp to Great Writers 1.7 Origin of Thought and Birth of an Idea 1.8 Let Us Sum Up 1.9 Review Questions 1.0
In this unit we shall introduce you to the concept and significance of creative writing in English. Besides you will also be able to understand what constitutes creative writing and what distinguishes pulp from great writers. Lastly we shall inform you about the stages through which an idea culminates into a creative work. 1.1
Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature, typically identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of figures of speech. Both fictional and nonfictional works fall into this category, including such forms as novels, biographies, short stories, and poems. In the academic setting, creative writing is typically separated into fiction and poetry classes, with a focus on writing in an original style, as opposed to imitating pre-existing genres such as crime or horror. Writing for the screen and stage—screenwriting and playwriting—are often taught separately, but fit under the creative writing category as well. 1.2
What is Creative Writing?
Creative writing is anything where the purpose is to express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than to simply convey information. It is writing that expresses the writer’s thoughts and feelings in an imaginative, often unique, and poetic way. Writing of any sort is hard, but rewarding work – you’ll gain a huge amount of satisfaction from a finished piece. Being creative can also be difficult and challenging at times, but immensely fun. Besides giving satisfaction and joy to the human soul, the creative process has always given a new meaning to life in every era or period of human development. The creative spark within an individual, leading to creative endeavours stems from a basic, yet strong, feeling of dissatisfaction 1
with the usual process and activities. Some may not feel dissatisfied at all with the way things are. And, those who do feel discontented may react or respond in one of the following ways: ∗ ∗
Simply complaining or feeling frustrated without doing anything about the existing state of things. Trying to change the state of affairs by creating something new in a new way or even attempting to mould the public opinion or attitude by writing about the state of affairs in an original style with a skillful use of words and expressions.
Let's take an example from the realm of sports this time. When Captains and bowlers from all over the cricketing world thought of curbing the flow of runs from opposition batsmen by bowling a negative leg-stump-line with fielders on the on-side, the first batsman who thought of countering such a play by means of the reverse-sweeps shot was nothing short of being creative. The above requisites of the ‘creative processes’ may by safely applied to the various domains of writing as well. Man is unique…….to master. Man is unique in his ability to make metaphors. Creativity is the act of living metaphorically. Besides giving satisfaction to the soul, it gives a new experience to life on different stages of human development. A boy drawing strange figures on the beautiful walls of his house is really creative. It is a spark which gives individuals to recreate certain common things in our daily life in a genuine way. Any writing of original composition can be considered as Creative Writing. It is the process of inventing or rather presenting our thoughts in an artistic way. Art is considered as an imitation or representation of the world and human life. The major criterion applied to a work of art is the truth of the subject matter it represents. The creative writer takes a different angle to view the world which is appealing to the readers. Since each creation is targeted at the reader, a work of art is considered as something which is created to achieve certain effects on the audience/readers. The value of the work of Art is judged according to its success in achieving that aim. The function of a work of art is to please –it pleases both the writers and the readers. According to Aristotle, a work of art (literature) is the imitation of life. He believes that there is a natural pleasure in imitation, which is an inherent quality of man It is this pleasure in imitation that enables the child to imitate the speech and conduct of the people around him. They are imitated by him because there is a pleasure in doing so. A creative writer is just a grown –up child imitating others for the pleasure it affords. This statement may induce a ray of suspicion in the mind of students that where is creativity in imitation? Aristotle clarifies this point in his discussion on poets “they reveal truth of a permanent or universal kind.” To prove this Aristotle gives a comparison between poetry and history.-”It is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened” But his duty is to describe “What may happen.” The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose –the true difference is that one relates what has happened and the other what may happen. History records particular persons, places or things. Poetry infuses a universal appeal into them by stressing what they have in common with all persons, all places or all things in the same set of circumstances. A picture created in a poem or in any work of art is not a mere reproduction of facts it describe but it has got a universal applicability, that it can be applied to all places and times. This is the meaning Aristotle gives to imitation. Creative writing requires the writer to dig deep into the imagination, often connecting fictional characters in an alternative reality. Hudson warns us against the fallacy that fiction has nothing to do with fact. The writer has to choose those aspects of life with which he is familiar that the writer must be authentic and must show absolute fidelity to the fact and knowledge of life. This knowledge of life may spring from direct personal experience or through books and conversation 2
with other people who have felt and touched life which the writer has not. A creative writer, by using the kaleidoscope of his imagination, which comes from some where deep inside, from a part of mind and soul, recreates another world like the Wonderland of Alice. One key aspect of creative writing is to let your creativity lead you. You may be a great story teller but not all great story-tellers are great writers and combining the two is a task that takes time and patience to master. 1.3
Scope and Area of Creative Writing
Writers are in demand across a number of fields. The publishing and screen industries, advertising agencies, magazines and newspapers, websites public services and large corporations all require specialist writers with flair of language. Students who deal with creative writing and literary studies are encouraged to experiment with a variety of forms and genres including novels and short stories, creative non-fiction, media writing and poetry. The serious students may consider the following as the key points in writing creatively. When the writer thinks on what can be produced at an impulse of a particular feeling, image, experience or memory, he selects the comfortable medium for him to written. Writing satisfies a creative soul, when it works out, a new life (fictional) is created and that gives strength to that poem or novel. Any form is suitable for the readers to enjoy and record the creative faculty of the writer. Some of the common genres of creative writing are poetry, novel, short story, drama, travelogue etc. Writing satisfies a creative soul; it often works out and creates an alternative life of its own. The role of the writer is merely to arrange it as per the respective genre. Any form is suitable for recording his creative inspirations. Whatever may be the medium used, the finished product should have a universal appeal and it will speak to a wide range of people .Different people take it differently according to their social constructions. Good writing has the ability to rejuvenate a reader mentally and emotionally. Some times a good writer evokes a realization of the abstract things which the readers enjoy much and they celebrate the writer as gifted. 1.4
Analysing a Creative Composition
Creative writing is the process of inventing or rather presenting your thoughts in an appealing way. The writer thinks critically and reshapes something known into something that is different and original. Each piece of writing has a purpose and is targeted at an audience. It is organized cohesively with a clear beginning, middle and an end. Attention is paid to choice of apt vocabulary, figurative use of language and style. The following can be taken as key points for understanding of writing creatively: The Beginning: Creative writing takes its first breath when the writer asks, "What can I create out of a particular feeling, image, experience, or memory?" The Purpose: It carries out a writer's compelling desire to imagine, invent, explore, or share. Writing satisfies the creative soul. It often takes on a life of its own; the writer merely follows along. The Form: Any form using a writer's imagination is suitable for creative development of some element of fiction. Some of the most common types of creative writing are poetry, essays, charactersketches, short-fiction, anecdotes, play-scripts, songs, parodies, reminiscences, historical fiction etc. The Audience: A specific audience may not be known in the beginning, and each situation is different. However, if the finished piece has a universal meaning, the story will speak to a wide range of readers and may have varied meaning for various people. The Style: A writer's style comes from an array of choices that result in the sole ownership of the finished product. The key to attaining a unique style is focused control. The writer lays out a viewpoint and if it appeals to the readers, it influences them. A good write up has the ability to 3
rejuvenate a reader mentally and emotionally. Sometimes a good write-up evokes realisation of the abstract. As a result, the reader will see, hear, smell, taste, and feel specific things. 1.5
Things that must be avoided by a writer
Using more words than are necessary to express an idea.
Repeating an idea in different words.
using high sounding, difficult and obscure words instead of simple short ones.
Periphrasis Or :
Using a roundabout way of saying a simple thing.
Circumlocution Archaic Words:
Use of outdated words and phrases.
Words or expressions used in familiar conversation such as 'tis, bike, phone.
Specific colloquialisms invented for humour and vividness in expressions such as cool dude, damn.
Translating the idioms and expressions of Indian languages literally.
Comparing a thing to two or more things.
Words which do not convey a precise meaning such as good, awfully. 1.6
Gradation of Creative Writing from Pulp to Great Writers
The fantastic, escapist fiction published in the first half of twentieth century is normally known as Pulp Fiction. The etymology of the expression, pulp fiction is that these stories were printed on cheap ‘pulp’ paper and it attracted a mass of readers. The pulp fiction era gave a breeding ground for creative talent which would influence all forms of entertainment for the following years. The later detective and science fiction genres were created by the freedom provided by pulp fiction magazines. Pulp fiction is a term used to describe a huge amount of creative writing available to the American public in the early nineteen hundreds. What they generated was the real driving force for their huge readability. They attracted people to the world of reading and creativity. Once they are acquainted to the world of creativity, the next task is to improve the quality of their product. By choosing a wide range of books and reading them closely one can widen the area of his literary and creative world. The world of books is a wonderful world which gives you thousands of unperceived experiences. One thing is mandatory that you should open your eyes and sharpen your ears. Creative writing is described as communication through revelations. It is a type of escape from the self. Each production gives him an aesthetic pleasure. He is intensely and emotionally connected to what he makes. The writer is genetically connected to his work and the readers identify it based on his style. So it is the duty of the writer to develop a unique style-some thing like a person’s finger print. It takes years to develop a writer’s style and voice, but through hard work and dedication he can bring his unique self (his identity/his style) on the page. Whether one writes fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, he can always seek ways to improve his skills. To a certain extent, one’s writing style, the manner in which he expresses himself –evolves naturally over time, with a combination of his personality, his reading choices and the decisions he makes consciously while writing. To develop one’s own writing style, his reading should be wide 4
and elaborate- read classics-Great literature is the best teacher. Experts in this field remark that young or beginning writers must be urged to read widely, ceaselessly, both classics and contemporaries, for without an immersion in the history of craft, one is doomed to remain an amateur. As practice, read as much as you can. Even though you read a book which you feel dull or boring, try to find out, why it didn’t attract you? What were the handicaps of the language used? Is there too much digressions or whether the characters and incidents are loosely designed? A poorly executed piece gives you more opportunities to learn. Take note of how your favourite writers set their scenes and characters. Look at the poets to see how they use metre, rhythm and imageries. Find out time to write daily. The more you write, better be the result. There is no substitute for simply writing as much as you can. In the beginning don’t be worried at the prospect of publishing; that may follow automatically. Attempt different genres. Nonfiction and poetry in particular have something to teach its readers. In the beginning there may be the influence of other writers, but it is not a great sin Your product may not be significant, but it should not be a matter of tension. Love writing and try to create a style gradually. Use only those words that come to you naturally. Of course you may try to improve your diction, then there is a high risk of using misfit words. Choose words from the real life, words with a smell of life-experiences. You can recollect moments from your childhood. Watch and try to digest your surroundings keenly. Since the world is a great stage and we can meet with any type of characters over there. Since the work is for reading, be clear in expression. The sentences are advised to be simple, otherwise, the readers come out from the fictional dream which the writer tried hard to create. Avoid clichés in your work. They make things stereotypical. Remove them completely or at least put a twist on them to make the work stand out. For example, Mark Twain’s twist on the cliché-to count to a particular number when you are angry, to avoid to speak harshly. Twain writes: “When angry count four; when very angry swear.” But it is very difficult to attain a distinctive style in writing. Good writers develop their own style. You can identify a particular writer just by listening to what he says. The rhythm of his sentences, peculiarity of his vocabulary, casualness of his tone are distinctive like your fingerprint or DNA. The style comes to you if you lay your foundation aptly. Talking on style, let it happen. Don’t think about writing with a style but about clarity and conciseness. Avoid thinking about what your reader might expect or like. Write the way you like which is the quickest way to begin a personal style. Allow the quickness of your thinking to work and the distinctness of your personality to appear in your writing. Clear detailed writing will make the prose come to life. Try to find out the right words for description. There is a great pleasure to know the names of things and using them. Here is an example: “The grey-haired woman sat by the window tatting a doily” is more descriptive and clear than “the old woman sat in the corner, working on something.” Precision is not a matter of filling a sentence with modifiers however it is the question of choosing the best nouns and verbs. As a writer one should craft original sentences where you can use the metaphors and the figurative language. In the creative process, don’t write about unfamiliar things. If you write on political drama, for instance, without having involved in political affair, there is a chance of making in factual descriptions. Writers who handle complex, detailed worlds they are not familiar with, tend to familiarize themselves with what they are writing. It will clearly appear in your writing Likewise if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular technique, avoid it. Once you start finding joy in writing you can travel in the unraveled world of imagination, you can hear the music you made. Your involvement in writing will fetch you your style. 1.7
Origin of Thought and Birth of an Idea There are four stages for the culmination of an idea into a creative work. 5
1. Inspiration: You may be inspired by an event, an experience, a person or a scene. An idea can come from any where. The great English poet, John Keats heard the song of a nightingale while he was sitting in a park. That was the inspiration behind the great poem, Ode to a Nightingale. A writer’s mind is highly charged with imagination, a single spark is needed to ignite it. 2. Incubation: This stage is all about birth of an idea. Some ideas may be more like an elephant and take couple of years to born. Some ideas born very fast, depending upon the gravity of the idea and the writer. 3. Implementation: This can be considered as a research stage that the writing project will require. When one writer approaches a complex subject, he has to undergo a serious study on that topic. For example, if you are writing a novel on the aboriginals of Australia, You should study the history of the island and the problems faced by the aboriginals in particular. Lack of homework may affect the coherence of the novel. It is very important that you should keep the fictional reality. 4. Interpretation: This is the final stage in which we turn the research into a final written product or literary art. In this final stage of the creative process we interpret the findings of the research and recreate them into words. With the editing work it is ready to share with the world. 1.6
Let Us Sum Up
In this unit we have introduced you to the concept and significance of creative writing in English. Besides now you understand what constitutes creative writing and what distinguishes pulp from great writers. Lastly you have also been informed about the stages through which an idea culminates into a creative work. 1.7
Review Question 1. 2. 3. 4.
How is an ordinary writing different from creative writing? What do you understand by the style of a writer? How will you demonstrate your style? How will you go about developing, pruning and nourishing your own individual style of writing? Discuss the four stages for the culmination of an idea into a creative work. ***********
Unit - 2 Types of Creative Writing- I Structure 2.0 Objectives 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Distinguishing Features of Poetry 2.3 Elements of Poetry 2.4 Free Verse 2.5 Prosaic Poems 2.6 Poetic Prose 2.7 Types of Prose 2.8 Let as Sum Up 2.9 Review Question 2.0
In this unit we intend to give you an overview of types of creative writing: poetry, prosaic poems and poetic prose so that on the basis of the subject matter you have in your mind you can choose the genre. With the information about poetic prose, we wish to show you that it is not unusual that a highly imaginative writer can produce a non creative work in a creative manner. And such a work uplifts even as it informs. For instance, Maurice Maeterlinck wrote The Life of the Bee almost like a creative work, its language touching the fringes of poetry. Conversely, with the information about prosaic poem, we wish to show you how in the hands of an ordinary writer, even a poem can make very dull reading, duller than any non creative work. 2.1
Creative writing covers a wide array of writing types. Everything from poetic works to work of nonfiction can be found in the genre, creative writing. The style of creative writing focuses on aesthetic writing rather than just giving information. Any writing that expresses emotions or free thinking falls into the category of creative writing. Since a metrical composition can easily carry emotions, the genre poetry comes first in creative writing. The other genres like short story, novel, drama, travelogue, essays, biographies, memoirs, screenplay etc. are widely discussed in the next unit. In this unit we discuss the distinguishing features of poetry and poetic prose. Both of them have their own positive and negative aspects. 2.2
Distinguishing Features of Poetry
The development of human speech marks the beginning of civilization. Among the various manifestations of human speech, poetry has a special place. The fullest exploitation of language is made in literature and especially in poetry. Language is not merely the external covering of a thought; it is also its internal framework. Ezra Pound has defined literature as ‘language charged with meaning’ and great literature as ‘simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible 7
degree’. Christopher Caudwell defined poetry as ‘a heightened form of ordinary speech.’ It fully utilizes all the varied resources of language. Poetry is one of the most ancient forms of art; it is one of the most universal and is a unique product of human imagination. A poetic view of the world is distinct from the scientific and practical view of the world. Poetic view is concerned with the verbal universe fabricated by the poet’s imagination, the imagination playing up on his sensory, intellectual and emotional experience of life. ”All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”, Wordsworth observes. According to Carlyle, “Poetry is a musical thought”. The world of science is the world of fact, where the physical activity is objectively considered. The scientist is interested in things as they are in themselves. Science aims to give a systematic explanation of things in terms of cause, effect and physical law. In our day to day life, we are not interested in things as they are in themselves. We are concerned with that aspect of things which appeal to our emotional nature. We are impressed by the mystery and beauty of things. Poetry gives us the emotional and spiritual side of things. Poetry thus expresses and interprets their appeal to us and our responses to them. Thus poetry is at once the antithesis and the compliment of science. The imaginative view of the world that poetry embodies is distinguished by several attitudes and elements peculiar to it. First of all, poetry is an emotional embodiment of experience and we respond to it emotionally, sincerely and intellectually. As T.S. Eliot has pointed out, there is a perfect fusion of thought and feeling, of the intellect and the emotions, in other words, a unification of sensibility in the greatest kinds of poetry. Great poets have the ‘essential quality of transmitting ideas and sensations, of transforming an observation into a state of mind’. Poetry uses language that is intense and highly charged with meaning. It makes a formal and intensely structural use of language. It communicates its special world view through a variety of features such as rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, assonance and the like. The emotional colouration of poetry is very often conveyed through poetic modes such as image, metaphor and symbol and through the connotative significance of words. Formally, verse is distinguished from prose by the use of metrical language. Thus poetry establishes a unique verbal artifact. A poem should not be equated with any statement that is purposefully made. In the ultimate analysis, the poem is the meaning. Consequently, it is not readily vulnerable to translations. Neither can a translation convey all the emotional overtones that the poem has in the original. According to Octavia Paz: “Each word of a poem is unique. There are no synonyms. Unique and irremovable, it is impossible to wound one word; impossible to change a comma without upsetting the whole edifice. The poem is a living whole, made of irreplaceable elements. Thus the true translation can only be a recreation.” (P.35) One may feel the view of Octavia Paz as extreme, but it is a fact that successful translations such as Alexander Pope’s Iliad and Fitz Gerald’s Rubaiyat are virtually recreations. A paraphrase of a poem is also a feeble shadow of the original. 2.3
Elements of Poetry
Nevertheless, we should first analyse the various elements that contribute to the life of the poem and define and discuss each category. Since poetry is a highly compressed and intense form of communication, the diction of poetry assumes great significance. Regarding the use of words, two aspects may usefully be distinguished: denotative and connotative meanings. The meaning of a word in isolation – its dictionary definition – is implied by denotation. But, words over a period of time
accumulate a cluster of emotional overtones, traditions, and allusions which is suggested by the word, connotation. Dante called words ‘buttered and shaggy’ because of different noises they make. The poetic use of language is characterised by ambiguity. William Empson defines ambiguity as ‘any verbal nuance, however slight, which gives room for alternative reactions to the same piece of language’. In scientific prose ambiguity is intolerable, but the poet very often relies on it to enrich or convey the complexity of his view of life. Ambiguity has got many variants – an obvious kind is pun, where a word carries more than one possible meaning. In Romeo and Juliet, the wounded Mercutio’s words to Romeo is a good example for pun: ‘.... ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a graveman’ (III, i, 101) where the word ‘grave’ can be read in different ways. The most fundamental feature of the poetic use of language and the most distinctive trait of poetic process is metaphoric transformation. Though image, metaphor and symbol are distinct forms, they are divergent manifestations of the metaphoric process and therefore may be discussed together. An image is an equation for our emotion. As Ezra Pound says: ‘Poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics which gives us equations not for abstract figures... but equations for the human emotions’. We experience the world around us through the stimulation of our sensory organs. An image is a similar sensory experience induced by mind and verbally realised in poetry. Imagery is mental picture expressed through language. There are different types of images – auditory image (corresponding to the sense of hearing), tactile image (the sense of touch), olfactory (the sense of smell) and gustatory (connected to taste) images. Poets sometimes deliberately mix them up. Imagery which involves a perception of one sense modality in terms of another is called synaesthesia. When Dylan Thomas speaks of the ‘light of sound’ and the ‘sound of light’ he applies synaesthetic imagery. Metaphor is the soul of poetic language. The greatest thing for a poet is to have good command of metaphor. Basically, in metaphor, a word or expression which in literal usage denotes one kind of thing or action is applied to a distinctly different kind of thing or action, without asserting a comparison. If Burns had said “O my love is a red, red rose”, he would have uttered a metaphor. The components of metaphor are its tenor and vehicle. Tenor is the underlying idea that the metaphor expresses or the subject of the comparison. The basic analogy that is used to embody the tenor is vehicle. When Macbeth says that ‘Life is but a walking shadow’, ‘life’ is the tenor and ‘walking shadow’ is the vehicle. Though metaphor is employed as a generic term synonymous with figurative language collectively, Simile asserts the similarity between two objects or states of mind. Simile is also a metaphor where the comparison is indicated by ‘like’, or ‘as’. The best example for Simile is Robert Burn’s expression, ‘O my love is like a red, red rose. Metonymy and synecdoche are other prominent figures of speech in poetry. In metonymy an attribute of an object or something related to the object is used to represent the object. Synecdoche is very similar and implies the use of the part for the whole or whole for the part. (eg: England beat Australia in cricket). Both these figures are closely related that the distinction between the two has vanished and the term metonymy is used to cover both. Other devices widely used in poetry are paradox, hyperbole, understatement and irony. By paradox, we mean a statement that is apparently contradictory or different from our normal experience. The special value of paradox is that it shocks us into the realisation of the seemingly impossible but valid truths. According to Cleath Brooks, ‘Paradox is an integral and indispensable feature of all good poetry’. T.S. Eliot, in East Coker states, ‘Our only health is the disease..... 9
And that is to be restored, our sickness must grow worse’ He is resorting to paradox to communicate a truth about the metaphysical nature of man. Oxymoron is really a kind of paradox in which opposite terms are brought together in a single statement. Yeats’ memorable phrase ‘a terrible beauty’ is an oxymoron. Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement. Andrew Maxwell in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ uses a series of ‘it’ My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires, and more slow An hundred years should go to praise, Thine eyes, and on they forehead gaze: Two hundred to adore each breast: But thirty thousand to the rest; An age at least to every part, And the last age should show your heart. One of the distinctive appeals of the poetic form is to musical values. The music of poetry is dependent on several devices such as rhyme, rhythm, meter, alliteration, assonance etc. The scientific study of the formal patterns of sound such as meter and rhyme is called prosody. When the vowel sounds of the final accented syllables at the end of lines of verse are identical, the lines are said to rhyme. It is possible to discriminate between masculine rhymes and feminine rhymes. In English poetry, masculine rhymes are commoner than feminine rhymes and are said to occur when the accented vowels are found in the terminal syllables; eg; rose – grows; love – glove. Feminine rhymes occur when the accented syllable is followed by one unaccented syllable or more. eg: standing – landing; nation – station. Rhyme depends on the correspondence between two words in their sound, and not in their spelling. When the correspondence is only in spelling, we call it sight rhyme or eye rhyme. Closely related to rhyme is alliteration. When the consonant sound is repeated in the initial position of various words within the same line, it is called alliteration. eg: In a somer seson, whan soft was the sonne... Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds especially in the stressed syllables in a sequence of nearby words. eg:
If aught of oaten stop or pastoral song, May hope, chaste eve, to soothe thy pensive ear...
Rhythm is the integral part of the music of verse, it is not confined to verse alone but is basic to all forms of nature, both animate and inanimate. The change of seasons, the ebb and flow of tides, the heart beats are all various forms of rhythm and follow a regular pattern of recurrence. Rhythm is the fundamental feature of language and consists in the regular recurrence of stress. But unlike the mechanical, regular and repetitive rhymes of the pendulum of a clock, the rhythm of poetry is a vehicle for the transmission of the poem’s meaning. In ‘Coriolan’ by T.S. Eliot, the rhythm stimulates bodily movement and we hear the rise and fall of feet keeping time to the beat of a martial drum. Stone, bronze, stone, steel, stone, oak leaves, horses’ heels... 10
In any English polysyllabic word, one of the syllables receives a greater stress than the others. It is possible to distinguish between several degrees of stress or accent, but from a practical perspective, it is sufficient to take note of a primary stress and secondary stress. Conventionally, the metrical line is divided into feet, each foot consisting of one stressed syllable and one or more unstressed syllables. The iamb or iambic foot which consists of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (....) is the most common meter of English verse. eg:
The cur/few tolls/the knell/of part/ing day – (Gray Elegy written in a county churchyard.
Unrhymed iambic pentameter is blank verse. It is close to the rhythm of English speech. Blank verse is the standard meter for Elizabethan plays, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Wordsworth’s Prelude etc. In a trochaic foot a stressed syllable is followed by an unstressed one When two unstressed syllables are followed by a stressed syllable is known is anapest. Dactyle is one stressed syllable followed two unstressed syllables. Iambs and anapests constitute a rising meter, since the stressed syllable is at the end, while trochees and dactyls, strongly stressed at the beginning, constitute a falling meter. When a number of lines are bound together by a rhyme scheme, a stanza is produced. A pair of metrical lines constitutes a couplet. A triplet is group of three successive lines. A four-line stanza is known as quatrain. A quatrain rhyming ab ab is referred to as the hymnal stanza or the common measure. Many ballads are written in common measure. The rhyme scheme usually being ab cd instead of regular ab ab. The Terza Rima consists of a series of tercets each linked to the next one by rhyme. Dante’s Devine Comedy is the best example for it. One of the most complex stanza forms is the villanelle. It is the poem of nineteen lines divided into five three-line stanzas and a concluding quatrain. The entire poem is built on two rhymes and the first line of the poem is repeated in the final line of the second and fourth stanzas. William Empson and Dylan Thomas composed poems in villanelles. 2.4
A good deal of twentieth century poetry is in free verse. Much of the prose of King James Bible and the poems of Whitman are in free verse in the sense that they are not based on the regular measurable recurrence of stress. Free verse became the most characteristic form of first half of the present century and is closely associated with the modernist movement. Among the distinguished modern practitioners are T.S.Eliot, G. Appollinaire, Saint John Perse, W.C. Williams etc. Eliot remarks that the absence of rhyme and metrical regularity does not make it easier to compose in free verse. In the early part of 20th century free verse developed into a bonafide movement with an underlying philosophy and with spokesmen such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. But both these poets kept the elements of poetry, even if they didn’t have rhyme or meter. Here is a famous free verse of Archibald MacLeish. Ars Poetica A poem should be palpable and mute As a globed fruit. Dumb, 11
As old medallions to the thumb, Silent as the sleeve-worn stone Of casement ledges when the moss has grown. A poem should be wordless As the flight of birds. *** A poem should be motionless in time As the moon climbs, Leaving, as the moon releases Twig by twig the night entangled trees Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves Memory by memory the mind – A poem should be motionless in time As the moon climbs. *** A poem should be equal to: Not true: For all history of grief An empty doorway and a maple leaf For love The leaning grasses and two light above the sea A poem should not mean But be. This may be one of the beautiful free verse poem ever written. But what is interesting is how close it comes to metered poetry. The first section can be broken into lines of ten syllables (with the exception of the final two words). These new lines contain five feet each, and they make excellent iambic pentameter with anapests and trochees are variants: A poem should be palpable and mute As a globed fruit. Dumb, as old medallions To the thumb; silent as the sleeve-worn stone Of casement ledges where the moss has grown
A poem should be wordless as the flight Of birds. This is not to suggest that every free verse should be re-writable into metered form. Any free verse can be written with many poetic elements. It needn’t be prosaic – and the early free-verses tended to write that way. In ‘Ars Poetica’, MacLeish used most of the poetic elements: rhythm, alliteration, assonance, rhyme line breaks chosen for maximum effect, and a strong use of metaphor. The poem has been written in three sections of our couplets each. 2.5
Prosaic Poems Prose is a form of language which applies ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure (as in traditional poetry). It is mainly used in spoken dialogue, factual discourse as well as in topical and fictional writing. eg: in literature, newspaper, magazines, encyclopedias, history, philosophy etc. The reason for the popularity of the prosaic poem is that anyone can write it. It is the method of which people without poetic talent, or without the true love of the sound of poetry, can express their private feelings in a public manner. Short stories and novels are too long for their purposes, and writing letters apparently isn’t public enough. But the prosaic style misses the point of poetry altogether, which is to create beauty with words. Such poetry can only be read for its meaning, not for its beauty. When we remove form and meter from poetry, all the remaining elements become expendable. As long as poets take the word ‘free’ to mean ‘without’ (without rhythm, without rhyme, without alliteration etc.) then free verse will disintegrate into prose. Poets like Frost, Auden, Roethke, Eliot showed us that metered poetry can be informal and accessible. Meter is what gives the poem its structure and momentum, it carries the reader forward to the poem’s conclusion. Here is an example for prosaic style: I Finally Managed to Speak to Her She was sitting across from me On the bus. I said, “The trees look so much greener in this part of the country. In New York city everything looks so drab.” She said, “It looks the same to me. Show me a tree that is different.” “That one, I said. ”Which one?” She said. “It’s too late,” I said. ”We already passed it, when you find another one”, she said.” ”Let me know.” And then
she went back to reading her book. - Hal Sirowitz. This poem contains only one poetic element: Line break. It is prosaic in every respect, with dull and uninteresting language. It doesn’t convey a mood effectively or evoke an emotion from the reader. 2.6
Poetic Prose or Prose poetry is poetry written in prose instead of using verse but preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery and emotional effects. Prose poetry should be considered as neither primarily poetry nor prose but is essentially a hybrid or fusion of the two, and accounted a separate genre altogether. The argument for prose poetry belonging to the genre of poetry emphasizes its heightened attention to language and prominent use of metaphor. On the other hand, prose poetry can be identified primarily as prose for its reliance on prose's association with narrative and on the expectation of an objective presentation of truth. Though the name of the form may appear to be a contradiction, the prose poem essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry. While it lacks the line breaks associated with poetry, the prose poem maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme. The prose poem can range in length from a few lines to several pages long, and it may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects. Though examples of prose passages in poetic texts can be found in early Bible translations and the Lyrical Ballads of William Wordsworth, the form is most often traced to nineteenth-century French symbolists writers. The advent of the form in the work of Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire marked a significant departure from the strict separation between the genres of prose and poetry at the time. A fine example of the form is Baudelaire's "Be Drunk," which concludes: And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish." The form quickly spread to innovative literary circles in other countries: Rainer Maria Rilke and Franz Kafka in Germany; Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz in Latin America; and William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein in the United States. Each group of writers adapted the form and developed their own rules and restrictions, ultimately expanding the definitions of the prose poem. Among contemporary American writers, the form is widely popular and can be found in work by poets from a diverse range of movements and styles, including James Wright, Russell Edson, and Charles Simic. Campbell McGrath’s winding and descriptive "The Prose Poem" is a recent example of the form; it begins: On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the 14
distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. There are several anthologies devoted to the prose poem, including Traffic: New and Selected Prose Poems and Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, as well as the study of the form in The American Prose Poem: Poetic Form and the Boundaries of Genre. 2.7
Types of Prose
Unlike poetry, prose does not fall into neatly defined forms such as sonnets, blank verse, etc. We must therefore look at the 'type' of prose and consider its function or objective — i.e. to inform, to describe, to change, etc. Assessing the type of prose serves a limited, yet useful purpose; limited because many passages will combine different 'types' of prose writing simultaneously, yet useful in providing a starting-point that will direct the more detailed analysis to follow. The different types of prose fall into the following broad categories. 2.7.1 NARRATIVE This is the most common type of prose found in novels and stories. Basically it relates to any sort of writing that tells a story, or develops a plot. If a given extract deals with events or situations, they are likely to be those of a particularly telling or significant nature (for the characters or the author); if it deals with a character, it will illuminate something important about that character in action. In narrative prose, the writer is concerned with two basic objectives: 1. 2.
to give the reader all the necessary and relevant information so that characters and events in his narrative are explained, or make sense; to promote and sustain the reader's interest and curiosity, offering the interesting, the unusual, or the intriguing in character and situation.
The second aspect will be in particular evidence at the beginning of a work, while in the same way a sense of drama or suspense often accompanies passages that close a chapter or section. Narrative prose will be either first or third person narrative. The first person, or 'I' narrative generally produces a more personal, intimate form of communication. The reader is drawn in to share the writer's experience and a sense of sympathy or understanding is frequently developed, even when the narrator is seen to transgress moral or legal norms. The third person narrative is more 'detached', yet its scope is wider. The writer (and the reader following him) assumes a 'godlike' perspective above the action, showing us all things at all times and leading us into the minds and hearts and motives of all his main characters. There is also a type of narrative prose known as 'stream of consciousness'. This is a modern development that seeks to take the first person narrative even deeper. The aim is to reproduce the random flow of frequently unassociated ideas that race through the human mind at any given moment. The objective, external world is diminished and everything is seen exclusively through the perceptions of one mind, which is analysed in all its ramifications, with the trivial and the significant side by side. It is an attempt to be more accurate and honest in the portrayal of human psychology. In the hands of a Joyce or a Woolf, it has proved an extremely effective form of narration. Narrative prose is what a writer utilizes when he or she is describing a specific scene such as a landscape or perhaps a battle. Characteristics of prose narratives include language that is lush with adjectives. Careful concern is essential on the writer's standpoint to not over describe a scene to the sense of boredom.
Here the main function, obviously, is to describe, to give as accurately, or intriguingly, or powerfully as possible a deep impression of a character, place, or situation. The reader should 'feel' the scene and be able to see it or hear it as vividly as possible. Such prose is usually strong on atmosphere and the atmosphere of the description will say much about how the writer, or the characters involved, feel about what is being described. Such writing is usually the sort of prose that assumes a 'poetic' quality and will employ images and figurative language to colour the descriptions and involve the reader's emotions. Novels and stories will generally combine narrative and descriptive prose in the flow of the writing, even within short extracts. An event may be narrated, followed by a description of the mood or feeling it produces in the characters. The effective use of detail is crucial to good descriptive writing. A writer cannot include everything about a person or an event, so he will seek the most telling and significant details, those that give us the very essence of the person, place, or event as he sees them. The type of detail chosen and the sort of associations aroused will say much about how the writer feels towards his subject; we always, for instance, know exactly how Dickens feels (and wants the reader to feel) about all his characters from his initial descriptions. The student should consider the use of detail carefully. Does the writer have a real 'eye' for telling detail? Do the details combine to produce a uniform atmosphere? Are they surprising, unexpected, memorable? Do the details come alive for the reader and allow him to visualize or understand more vividly? Or are the details perhaps contrived or stale or insignificant? 2.7.3
Discursive writing offers the writer's thoughts on a particular topic such as 'the delights of living in the country', or 'the tribulations of urban life', providing general observations from his own and perhaps humorous or unusual, perspective. There is usually a sense of a mind enjoying its own intellectual activity and creative expression. The basic intention will vary somewhat, as the word 'discourse' can mean a lecture or sermon, whereas 'discursive' has connotations of random observations and light conversation. A novelist may well employ discursive sections to reveal the thoughts and values of his characters — a more subtle means of 'characterization' than simply telling us how characters think and feel, as the reader shares the actual thoughts. 2.7.4
Such writing attempts to influence the reader's thinking or behaviour in a specific manner, as the writer seeks to persuade, or cajole, or coerce the reader into thinking in a certain way. Generally, such writing deals with moral or political issues and is most commonly found in the sermon, treatise, journalism, or, at its lowest form, propaganda. The writer is usually passionately involved with his subject, seeing wrongs and evils that must be corrected. At its best, such writing can be powerful, moving and persuasive. At its worst, it usually reeks of fanaticism and, though its social consequences may be dangerous, it is usually poor writing. A differentiation may be made between 'didactic' and 'directive'. At a simple level, it lies in the difference between the impassioned prose of a sermon and the detached prose of instruction (which 'directs' the reader as to what to do). Didactic is, in fact, best reserved for purely moral issues, while directive adequately covers the rest.
Like certain other literary terms — i.e. 'pathetic' — the modern usage of this word does not fully indicate the original meaning. Nowadays, we tend to use the word 'satiric' for anything that ridicules the excesses or pretensions of certain types of people (politicians being an ever-popular target, especially for cartoonists). Traditionally, however, a 'satire' was more seriously intended and conceived. It highlighted folly, immorality or excess by exaggeration thereby deflating it and making it appear ludicrous and ridiculous. Yet such satires had the genuinely didactic purpose of correcting such weaknesses, or at least preventing those possessed of them from gaining power and influence. The hope was that the reader would note the ludicrous, despicable and contemptible nature of such behaviour and avoid it himself — if only for fear of appearing equally ridiculous. The elements of satire tend to be exaggeration, disproportion, ridicule and sarcasm. The reader must catch the right tone to avoid a reading that is too literal and taken at face value — the type of reading that might dismiss Animal Farm as a harmless fantasy of 'talking' animals. Modern satire has tended to be less moral than traditional satire, highlighting folly, etc. in an anarchic or destructive manner without offering or implying an alternative — as in the 'Absurd' dramatists. 2.8
Let Us Sum Up
In this unit we have given you an overview of types of creative writing: poetry, prosaic poems, poetic prose and the types of prose. 2.9
Review Question 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Mention some of the distinguishing features of poetry. Discuss the elements that go into making poetry a heightened form of ordinary speech. Is it easier to compose in free verse? Discuss with examples. What do you understand by poetic prose? What are the various types of prose? Give examples. ***********
Unit - 3 Types of Creative Writing - II Structure 3.0 Objectives 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Drama 3.3 Theatre 3.4 Epic 3.5 Fiction Narratives 3.6 Let Us Sum Up 3.7 Review Questions 3.8 Bibliography 3.0
In this unit we shall enumerate and discuss various distinguishing features between drama and epic and fiction narratives. Besides we shall also comprehend the notion of theatre and epic. 3.1
To classify literature in watertight categories is very difficult as creative writing involves a lot of experimentation with forms and this gives rise to the fluidity of forms. Still for the sake of proper understanding, conventionally creative writing is categorized into certain major and minor genres. We have already notices the distinguishing features between prose and poetry, in this unit we see the defining features of the most ancient forms of creative writing-drama and epic and their modern counterpart…fiction narratives. 3.2
3.2.1 Definition and Origin The word drama comes from the Greek verb “dran” which means ‘to act’ or to perform. As a literary form, drama is designed for the theatre because characters are assigned roles and they act out their roles as the action is enacted on stage. In other words, Drama is an adaptation, recreation and reflection of reality on stage. Many literary theorists have tried to define drama from time to time. It is very difficult to take any one definition to be full and final. Martin Esslin in Anatomy of Drama has given the following definitions of drama: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Drama can be seen as a manifestation of the play instinct as in children who are playing mother and father. Drama is something one goes to see, which is organized as something to be seen. It is an enacted fiction- an art form based on mimetic action. In arts, drama is the most elegant expression of thought nearest to the truth (reality). 18
It is the most concrete form in which art can recreate human situation, human relationship.
Scholars are divided on the origin of drama. Many scholars trace the origin of drama to wordless actions like ritual dances and mimes performed by masked players or priests during traditional festivals or ceremonies. Some trace the origin to Greece but others insist that drama in its definitive form or pattern evolved from Egypt. However, the account of tracing the origin of drama to Greece is given more currency. Apparently, Greek drama evolved from religious festivals that were celebrated to ensure the fertility of the land and to please the gods associated with it. These festivals were connected with the worship of the god Dionysius, a native god who like the vegetation dies and was reborn each year. The festival involved singing and dancing by a chorus of fifty men. Drama has developed and been improved upon by various dramatists over the ages. It has also been influenced by the developments and changes in the world. The unique nature of drama makes it possible for it to be read and as also to be performed. Unlike prose and poetry which depend on narration, drama is presented only through dialogue. The novel is divided into chapters and the poem is written mostly in stanzas, drama is presented in acts and scenes, movements or parts. Each dramatist is free to adopt his/her own style and we can see that different act/scene structures have been used in different ages and by different writers. The most common structure prior to 20th century was a five act division but now most dramas are written in three act division structure. 3.2.2 Elements of Drama (a) Imitation: In simple terms, elements of drama refer to the basic principles of drama which we must learn to fully understand and appreciate drama. We will start with imitation which is the basic and most important element of drama. In literature, imitation is used to describe a realistic portrayal of life, a reproduction of natural objects and actions. Over the ages, the attitude of dramatists on imitation differs from one dramatist to another and from one age to another. Some dramatists advocate the imitation of life exactly as it is lived, others insist on the imitation that is as close as possible to life. In the imitation that is as close as possible to life, the dramatist tries to create his characters to dress and act as close as possible to real life. That explains why we have different styles of imitation both in play-writing and acting skills. They include Emile Zola’s naturalism, Bernard Shaw’s realism, Bertolt Brecht’s epic theatre, Stanislavsky’s realistic acting, Gordon Craig’s theatre of cruelty, Gerzy Grotowsky’s poor theatre and many others. (b) Plot: The second chief element of drama is Plot. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines plot as a “plan or line of events of a story especially of a novel or a story”. In dramatic plot, unlike in the novel where the author describes the characters and incidents they are involved in, the playwright presents the characters in action. This means that plot in drama develops through what the characters do or say, what is done to them, and or what is said about them or to them. Plot in simple terms is the arrangement of a story in such a way that there will be a sequential, logical and chronological order. The plot should be arranged in such a way that the action starts from the beginning rises to a climax and falls to a resolution. It is arranged in this form – exposition, discovery, point of attack, complication, crisis, climax, denouement or resolution. The three types of action in drama are reported, physical and mental. In reported action, an action that is not part of the present action onstage is reported by a character or a group of characters. The physical action is based on the current incidents in the play, the concrete action on stage. It includes the movements, gestures, facial expressions and other 19
forms of physical action made by the characters and seen by the audience. The mental action includes the action in which the audience is left to imagine what happened. In most cases, it comes at the end of the play as the audience is left to imagine what happened to a character or a group of characters. (c) Dialogue : The next major element of drama is dialogue. Dialogue is a discussion between two or more people. In literary works, it refers to a composition in a conversational form. In the novel it is incorporated in the story however, in drama, the entire story is presented in dialogue. The Oxford Dictionary explains that dialogue involves two or more people and could be in the form of expression, conversation, talk, chat, tête-à-tête, chit chat, debate, argument, exchange of views, discussion, conference, converse, interlocution, confabulation, gossip, parley, palaver, spoken part, script, and lines. 3.2.3 Dramatic Techniques A) Characterization: Characterization is the playwright’s imaginative creation of characters that can effectively dramatize his story. The action of the play is presented through such characters. Playwright uses the characters to explicate his theme and propel the plot, His ability to craft the play in such a way that each character blends well in the plot is called characterization. There are different types of characters in drama. They include the protagonist, the dynamic character, the static character, the flat character, the round character, and stereotypes. Protagonist is the main character and at the centre of the story. If he is pitted against an important character, like in Hamlet, the opponent is called an antagonist. In the play, Hamlet is the protagonist while King Claudius is the antagonist and the relationship between them is what we refer to as conflict. Dynamic/ Round Character is a character that changes according to the course of events in the story. He may or may not be the protagonist or the hero. In most cases, he grows from innocence to maturity or from ignorance to knowledge. Static/Flat/Stock Character is usually stable and is said to be static because he retains essentially the same outlook, attitudes, values and dispositions from the beginning of the story to the end. B) Setting: Setting is the location of a play. It is the time and place when and where the action of the play takes place. Setting is very important in a play because it helps us to appreciate the background of the play. Also in productions it helps the designers to design appropriate locale, atmosphere, and costume for the play. Types of Setting (1) Geographical/Physical/Occupational: This is the actual geographical location of the story and whatever surrounds the place where the story is located. (2) Temporal/Historical Setting: This is the period in which a story takes place. This includes the date, the season, the general atmosphere in the locale like war, fuel scarcity, democratic or military rule. 3.2.4 Forms/Types of Drama In simple terms dramatic genre means type or kind of dramatic composition. Drama is grouped into distinct types, kinds or categories because there are qualities that are common to all dramatic compositions. The dramatic genres include tragedy, comedy, tragi-comedy, melodrama. 20
(a) Tragedy: Tragedy according to the Oxford English Dictionary is “a play of a serious or solemn kind ... a very sad event, action or experience.”Tragedy is the genre that comes after epic, in prestige as well as in historical sequence. Homer probably lived in the eighth century; Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides flourished three hundred years later, in the brilliance of fifth-century Athens. Tragedy began, possibly around 535 BCE, as the central part of the springtime festival of the god Dionysus. Tragedy is the most esteemed of all the dramatic genres. It has attracted many definitions and rules, from the days of Aristotle, who is the first person to write on what tragedy should be. He said in his “Poetics”: “Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornaments, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting a proper purgation of these emotions.” The tragic hero is drawn from princes and kings. He is a man who is not preeminently good, virtuous or vicious but who commits an error of judgment. The plays were based on myth and legends drawn mainly from the legends of the house of Atreus and the events of the Trojan wars. As part of a religious festival, the plays were used to show how vices like arrogance and pride lead men to destruction. The gods also play important roles in Greek tragedy. However, the dramatists differ in their attitudes to the gods as characters in their plays. Classical Greek drama was largely forgotten in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 16th century. Medieval theatre was dominated by mystery plays, morality plays, farces and miracle plays. In Italy, the models for tragedy in the later Middle Ages were Roman, particularly the works of Seneca. However the Renaissance period brought a new lease and concentration in writing of tragedies. This period, especially in England saw some of the greatest tragedies ever written. In the English language, the most famous and most successful tragedies are those of William Shakespeare and his Elizabethan contemporaries. Shakespeare’s tragedies include: •
Antony and Cleopatra
A contemporary of Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, also wrote examples of tragedy in English, notably, Doctor Faustus and Tamburlaine the Great. Modern playwrights feel that they should not be restricted by any rules. According to them, drama reflects the society, so they should reflect their society in the works. According to Arthur Miller, since kings and monarchs are no longer available, tragedy should be based “... on the heart and spirit of the average man”. Some very good examples are the plays by Henrik Ibsen like, A Doll’s House and plays by Arthur Miller like, Death of a Salesman. 21
(b) Comedy: Comedy is, along with tragedy, one of the two most familiar kinds of drama. It is associated with revelry: festive celebrations of the return of spring, carnival and folly. The word comedy comes from the Greek komos, a band of revelers. The purpose of comedy is to delight, to teach and to entertain the audience through the presentation of characters, situations and ideas in a ridiculous manner. Comedy began at the ancient Greek festival of the Dionysia, about 486 BCE. Old Comedy, of which the surviving examples are the plays of Aristophanes, featured fantastic plots, the mockery of celebrities of the day, and topical satire on political issues. Aristophanes’ Frogs (405 BCE) poked fun at his rival tragic playwrights, Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides. By the mid-fourth century BCE, Old Comedy (and its successor, Middle Comedy) had been replaced by New Comedy. New Comedy centered on domestic manners and the lives of ordinary citizens, in contrast to Old Comedy with its larger-than-life heroes and absurd plots. New Comedy also supplied a memorable collection of stock characters, like the wily slave and the foolish, irate father who finds himself outwitted by a pair of young lovers. Menander (342-290 BCE), the chief Greek exponent of New Comedy, wrote hundreds of plays, all but one of which have been lost. His Roman successors Plautus and Terence (both second century BCE) were also prolific. Comedy, in its Elizabethan usage, had a very different meaning from modern comedy. A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a happy ending, usually involving marriages between the unmarried characters, and a tone and style that is more light-hearted than Shakespeare’s other plays. Shakespearean comedies tend to also include: • • • • • •
A greater emphasis on situations than characters A struggle of young lovers to overcome difficulty, often presented by elders Separation and re-unification Deception among characters (especially mistaken identity) A clever servant Use of all styles of comedy (slapstick, puns, dry humour, earthy humour, witty banter, practical jokes)
Some classical examples of this Romantic Shakespearean comedy are- As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing. There are many other subtypes of comedy according to difference in the plot and presentation of the comic episode. Some of the important types are: The comedy of humours refers to a genre of dramatic comedy that focuses on a character or range of characters, each of whom has one overriding trait or ‘humour’ that dominates their personality, desires and conduct. This comic technique may be found in Aristophanes, but the English playwrights Ben Jonson and George Chapman popularized the genre in the closing years of the sixteenth century. The best example is Everyone in his Humour by Ben Johnson. The comedy of manners or the Restoration Comedy involves reflection on the fashionable habits of a particular social set, as in William Congreve’s Way of the World (1700), one of the masterpieces of the form. The plot of the comedy, often concerned with scandal, is generally less important than its witty dialogue. A great writer of comedies of manners was Oscar Wilde, his most famous play being The Importance of Being Earnest.
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s, as well as one for the styles of theatre which has evolved from their work. Their work expressed the belief that human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence. Playwrights commonly associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is the most representative example of this type of comedy. (c) Melodrama: The word melodrama is coined from melo (music) and dran (drama). It is, therefore, a play that utilizes music extensively. But the utilization of music is not the only factor in melodrama, what really makes it melodrama is its portrayal of the protagonist and the antagonist. The protagonist suffers a lot but triumphs in the end while the antagonist suffers. So, melodrama can be defined as a play that has serious action caused by a villain and a destruction of the villain which brings about a happy resolution in the play. The hero is usually involved in very dangerous circumstances but is rescued or he disentangles himself at the last possible moment. (d) Tragi-comedy: We have seen that tragedy is a serious play that ends on a sad note, while comedy ends happily. In traditional tragedy, playwrights were not allowed to bring in any comic action. As time went on, even from the Elizabethan period, comic characters were included in tragic plays. This is called comic relief. Tragi-comedy is a play that mixes both comic and tragic elements in equal proportion of each. Tragicomedy is a fictional work that blends aspects of the genres of tragedy and comedy. In English literature, from Shakespeare’s time to the nineteenth century, tragicomedy referred to a serious play with either a happy ending or enough elements of mirth and jokes throughout the play to lighten the mood. Shakespeare’s last plays, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest are generally considered as the most representative examples of Tragi-Comedy. (e) Drame: Drame is a term of the modern period given to a category of dramatic literature which deals with man in common place and contemporary circumstance. The genre is presumed to have evolved from the French drama. The French regarded it as a play of serious intent dealing with contemporary issues and lives. Playwright like Ibsen, Chekhov, Osborne and many other modern writers are considered as the people that made extensive use of this dramatic genre. Drame is noted for its great diversity, technical experimentation and a mixture of general forms of writing. Sometimes, it is difficult to classify it as either tragedy or comedy. The playwright here is not concerned with the genre but concerned with the treatment of social issues to uplift his society. It is a product of modem drama that thrives on innovations and experimentations. (f) Farce: Farce which is referred to as comedy of situation, is a humorous play on a trivial theme usually one that is familiar to the audience. The themes that are treated in farce include mistaken identity, elaborate misunderstanding, switched costume (men in women’s clothes), discoveries, disappearances and many such situations. Farce is not considered an intellectual drama because it does not appeal to the mind. It deals with physical situations and does not explore any serious idea. Some popular farces are Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle. 3.3
It is important to explain what theatre is and the basic technical difference between the terms Drama and Theatre which are generally confused to be synonymous. Theatre comes from the Greek 23
word “Theatron” which means “a place for viewing”. Theatre, therefore, refers to the space used for dramatic presentations or for other performances. There are different types of theatre. It could be a house or an open space. Theatre is also used for other performances that are not necessarily drama. These performances include masquerade displays, dances, puppet shows, music jamborees and other forms of festival. So we can say that Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance. Elements of design and stagecraft are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The basic elements of theatre are actor, space and audience. 3.3.1 Western Theatre History Modern Western theatre derives in large measure from ancient Greek drama, from which it borrows technical terminology, classification into genres, and many of its themes, stock characters, and plot elements. Theatre took on many alternate forms in the West between the 15th and 19th centuries. The general trend was away from the poetic drama of the Greeks and the Renaissance and toward a more naturalistic prose style of dialogue, especially following the Industrial Revolution. One of the big changes was the new theatre house. Instead of the types in the Elizabethan era that were like the Globe, round with no place for the actors to really prep for the next act and with no “theater manners,” it transformed into a place of refinement, with a stage in front and somewhat stadium seating in front of it. The eighteenth century also introduced women to the stage, which would have been extremely inappropriate before. Through the 19th century, the popular theatrical forms of Romanticism, melodrama, Burlesque gave way to the problem plays of Naturalism and Realism; the farces of Feydeau; Wagner’s operas; musical theatre (including Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas); proto-Expressionism in the late works of August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen; and Edwardian musical comedy. These trends continued through the 20th century in the realism of Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg, the political theatre of Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht, the so-called Theatre of the Absurd of Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, the collective creations of companies of actors and directors such as Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop, experimental and postmodern theatre of Robert Wilson and Robert Lepage, the postcolonial theatre of August Wilson or Tomson Highway, and Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. 3.3.2 Eastern theatre history The first form of Indian theatre was the Sanskrit theatre. It began after the development of Greek and Roman theatre and before the development of theatre in other parts of Asia. It emerged sometime between the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE and flourished between the 1st century CE and the 10th, which was a period of relative peace in the history of India during which hundreds of plays were written. The greatest writer of Sanskrit theatre was Kalidasa who wrote immortal classics like Abhigñānaśākuntalam and Mālavikāgnimitram. Japanese forms of Kabuki, Nō, and Kyōgen developed in the 17th century CE. Theatre in the medieval Islamic world included puppet theatre and live passion plays known as ta’ziya, where actors re-enact episodes from Muslim history. In modern critical discussions a distinction is made between the academic studies of “drama” and “theater.” A university course or a textbook on “Drama” tends to concentrate more on the text that was performed, that is the words of the text that are recited or read. But the modern study of “Theater” goes beyond the basic text as staged or read and has developed a complex theoretical approach. The study of “theater” will concern itself with the experience of producing and watching drama, before, during, and after the actual performance of the text itself. In other words Drama is 24
major part of theatre but theatrical performances include many other forms other than drama like musicals, pantomimes and puppet shows. 3.4
3.4.1 Definition and history An epic is a long narrative poem that treats a single heroic figure or a group of such figures and concerns an historical event, such as a war or conquest, or a heroic quest or some other significant myth or legend. Epic is one of the most ancient literary forms and is also considered to be the most ambitious literary genre. Each culture has tried to produce epic which faithfully mirrors their heritage and values. The earliest surviving epics are the Babylonian Gilgameshsaga, the Sanskrit Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the Greek. Iliad and Odyssey. The Sanskrit epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, while dating in written form between 400 B.C. and 400 A.D., were probably composed orally and revised repeatedly by different poets over a period of centuries, beginning perhaps as early as 2000 B.C. The Mahabharata, divided into 18 to 24 books and composed of over 110,000 couplets or slokas of 16 syllables each, is the longest epic in existence. The Ramayana is over 24,000 couplets long. Like the Iliad, the Mahabharata tells of a dynastic war between rival princes; like the Odyssey, the Ramayana concerns the wanderings of a hero who must rescue his wife and regain his kingdom. The central plot of both epics is embellished by a vast amount of digressive material that includes didactic and doctrinal lore on religion, morals, law, and philosophy, as well as narrative tales, adventures, anecdotes, and fables. In relatively modern times John Milton (1608-74), opting for a topic popular in Renaissance, Composed in Paradise Lost (1667, 1674) the first epic on Man’s fall to include not only the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve but also accounts of Creation, the battle of the angels, and an extended prophetic sequence on biblical history. He makes Adam and Eve his central characters and the central event their tragic yielding to temptation. He follows the basic structure of the Classic epic retaining its 12 books, beginning in medias res, and including narrative digressions; the invocation to the Muse and the extended simile. 3.4.1 Epic Conventions There are certain conventions which are found in almost all the epics. These conventions are about the theme, the treatment and other stylistic features employed by the poet while writing the epic. It is the practice of these conventions which distinguishes an epic from all the other forms of poetry. Some of the major conventions of epics are: 1.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic importance, usually the ideal man of his culture. He often has superhuman or divine traits. He has an imposing physical stature and is greater in all ways than the common man. Achilles, Lord Rama and Christ are some examples of an Epical hero. The setting is vast in scope. It covers great geographical distances, perhaps even visiting the underworld, other worlds, and other times. The action consists of deeds of valor or superhuman courage (especially in battle). Supernatural forces interest themselves in the action and intervene at times. The intervention of the gods is called “machinery.” The style of writing is elevated, even ceremonial. Additional conventions: these conventions are about the technique and are not necessarily present in all the epics. 1. Opens by stating the theme of the epic. 25
Writer invokes a Muse, one of the nine daughters of Zeus. The poet prays to the muses to provide him with divine inspiration to tell the story of a great hero. Narrative opens in media res. This means “in the middle of things,” usually with the hero at his lowest point. Earlier portions of the story appear later as flashbacks. Catalogues and genealogies are given. These long lists of objects, places, and people place the finite action of the epic within a broader, universal context. Oftentimes, the poet is also paying homage to the ancestors of audience members. Use of the epic simile. A standard simile is a comparison using “like” or “as.” An epic or Homeric simile is a more involved, ornate comparison, extended in great detail. Heavy use of repetition and stock phrases. The poet repeats passages that consist of several lines in various sections of the epic and uses homeric epithets, short, recurrent phrases used to describe people, places, or things.
As such we find that epic is a literary form which presents action and hero on largerthan-life scale. The basic difference between Drama and Epic is that of manner of imitation…while drama presents the imitation of life through the art of representation, epic presents the same imitation through the art of narration. Apart from this, an epic is always grand in its theme and sublime in its language; however, drama is relatively free from such stylistic constraints and conventions. 3.5
“Fiction” is defined as any imaginative re-creation of life in prose narrative form. Among the earliest definitions for fiction, the Oxford English dictionary lists “that which is fashioned or framed; a device, a fabric.” It is derived from the Latin fingere, which means to fashion or to form. With this in mind, we could say all of literature—poetry, short story, novel, essay, memoir, biography and autobiography—is fiction because it is a way of relating a story that the teller, a writer, weaves by placement of words in a discrete form. The main element which distinguishes a fiction narrative from other forms of fictive writing is the narrative technique or the point-of-view. Point of view refers to who tells the story and how it is told. The possible ways of telling a story are many, and more than one point of view can be worked into a single story. However, the various points of view that storytellers draw upon can be grouped into two broad categories: Third-Person Narrator (uses pronouns he, she, or they): 1. 2.
Omniscient: The narrator is all-knowing and takes the reader inside the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motives, as well as shows what the characters say and do. Limited omniscient: The narrator takes the reader inside one (or at most very few characters) but neither the reader nor the character(s) has access to the inner lives of any of the other characters in the story. Objective: The narrator does not see into the mind of any character; rather he or she reports the action and dialogue without telling the reader directly what the characters feel and think.
Writers such as Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien made extensive use of this narrative technique in their works. For example novels like Emma, Pride and Prejudice are written from Omniscient point of view.
First-Person Narrator (uses pronoun I): The narrator presents the point of view of only one character’s consciousness, which limits the narrative to what the first-person narrator knows, experiences, infers, or can find out by talking to other characters. The narrator need not be the primary character. For example, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the story is told by a minor character that plays the role of an observer. Conversely, the story’s protagonist may speak to the situation in person, often in a somewhat confessional tone. Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is a good example of this type of narrative. The first-person narrative technique is especially popular in writing personal diaries or memoirs, dramatic monologues, mystery novels and even “interior monologues,” in which a character essentially has a discussion with himself. The other elements of a narrative fiction like plot, character, and setting are similar to that of Drama. So as it goes Drama presents the illusion of life on stage through direct representation enacted through dialogues between characters. The fiction narrative, on the other hand presents the imitation of life through narration, either by the narrator outside the story or by a one inside the story. Both try to create faithful reflection of life; however the impact of this imaginative recreation depends on many other factors other than the plot and characterization. Both drama and narrative fiction depend upon these elements of plot, setting and characterization to achieve their ultimate goal-to create in the mind of their respective readers and spectators the semblance of truth. 3.6
Let Us Sum Up
So in this unit we have discussed the basic tenets of drama, epic and narrative fiction. Drama is the most ancient form of creative writing and we find its practice and theory in almost all ancient civilizations. It has evolved into a very complex writing form with certain conventions though we also find a lot of experimentation with this form throughout its development. The chapter also pointed out close resemblance between drama and theatre and their defining characteristics. Epic, once again is an ancient form but it has somehow gone out of fashion now for almost two centuries. Narrative fiction has been relatively a newer genre but in last 150 years it has outclassed every other form of creative writing. The basic reason behind its ever rising popularity may be its fluidity of form and ample scope of experimentation. 3.7
Review Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
What are the chief elements of drama? Discuss in brief. How is drama different from theatre? Discuss some main sub-types of tragedy and comedy. What are the main conventions of epic? What do you mean by narrative technique? List some of the major narrative techniques employed by novelists. Write about your favorite literature book in the light of the information given in the unit (its genre, sub type etc.)
Bibliography 1. 2. 3. 4.
Abrams, M. H. (1971). A Glossary of Literary Terms. New York: Holt Reinhart and Winston. Brocket, Oscar G. (1980).The Essential Theatre. New York: Holt Reinhart and Winston. Barthes, Roland. (1966).”An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative.” New Literary History 6: 237-272. Cuddon, J. A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. London: Penguin Books, 1991. 27
5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Elam, Keir. (1980). The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. London: Routledge. Forster, Edward Morgan. (1927). Aspects of the Novel. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Hartnoll, Phyllis. (1995). The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford UP. Miller, Arthur (February 27, 1949), “Tragedy and the Common Man”, The New York Times pp. 894–7). Scholes R. and C. H. Klaus (1971). Elements of Drama. New York: Oxford University Press. Searle, John R. 1975. “The Logical Status of Fictional Discourse”. New Literary History 6.2: 319-332.
Unit - 4 Miscellaneous Writing Structure 4.0 Objectives 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Memoirs 4.3 Letters 4.4 Autobiography 4.5 Biography 4.6 Essay 4.7 Travelogue 4.8 News Bulletin and Reports 4.9 Let Us Sum Up 4.10 Review Questions 4.11 Bibliography 4.0
In this unit we shall discuss some of the miscellaneous writings in English like memoirs, letters, autobiography, biography, essay, travelogue, news bulletin, reports. 4.1
In the previous unit we have discussed various types of fictional writings and the basic difference between them. Now a writer can not only narrate the fictional or imaginary experiences but he can also present the factual accounts of some real experiences of life. Such type of narrative writing is classified as Non-Fiction writing. Since the last century onwards the non-fictional writing has become very popular and has taken various forms. In this unit we will discuss different forms of these miscellaneous non-fiction writings along with their brief history and development. 4.2
Definition The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines memoir as ”a narrative composed from personal experience”. As the word itself suggests (from French: mémoire: memoria, meaning memory or reminiscence) a memoir is recollection of some event happened in the life of the narrator. The events or memories that are recounted in the memoir may be both public and private affairs of the life of the narrator. It is obvious that a memoir is always written from First person point of view. Historically, a memoir was considered a subcategory of autobiography, but in the present times, memoir is treated as an independent genre of non-fiction writing. The basic difference between a memoir and an autobiography is that of approach. As Gore Vidal, author of his memoir, 29
“Palimpsest” says, “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked. “In simple words an autobiography is the story of the life of its author while a memoir is a story from the life of its author. As such its scope is much limited as it focuses on particular event or incident. Memoir may have a marginal fictive element as it is heavily tinged with the author’s particular interpretation of that event. On the other hand, an autobiography is considered as the factual recounting of the life of the author. The writer of a memoir takes his reader to some part of his life which according to him is unusual or more intense than the rest of his life history. He recapitulates the incidents which are itched permanently in his memory. So memoir writing can be taken as the invitation to the readers to some crucial scene of its author’s life. It should be kept in mind that the validity of a memoir depends totally upon the author only as there may be recounting of such events for which we cannot have any other evidence. History and Development Although as an independent genre memoir writing is relatively a new genre but personal accounts of some major event of life has always been found in the annals of literature. Julius Caesar wrote Commentarii de Bello Gallico, also known as Commentaries on the Gallic Wars which describes the battles that took place during the nine years between him and local armies in the Gallic Wars. During the Middle Ages and later on up to early eighteenth century eminent rulers and other great men used to write memoirs about their heroic and adventure exploits. Gradually, especially from the latter half of the Eighteenth Century, literary memoirs came into vogue and people from every class and profession began to write memoirs about their particular experiences of the field. One of very celebrated example of modern memoir writing is Henry David Thoreau’s 1854 memoir Walden, which presents his experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond. 20th century memoirs are mostly about the harrowing experience of the wars and as such memoirs written by common people and soldiers have found their way in literary markets. So we find that Memoir as a literary genre is becoming more and popular in modern times as persons from every professional field are recording their specific experiences as the demand for such inside information about the celebrities is also increasing among the general reading circles. 4.3
Definition We know that letters are one of the most ancient modes of communication. In fact before the beginning of modern telecommunication age, letters were the only means of communication at any level. Apart from personal, business and political letters we also have a very specific branch of letters writing, popular from the ancient Greko-Roman times. These letters or Epistles were written by scholars with didactic or liturgical purposes. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Epistle as ”a letter, especially a formal or elegant letter or any composition in the form of a letter”. History and Development Initially the letters or epistles were written for theological purposes only. In fact the term Epistle also means, one of the letters included as a book in the New Testament. However, we also find many letters written on topics other than religion. Two earliest and quite famous examples include two types (a) on moral and philosophical themes (Horace’s Epistles); (b) on romantic or sentimental themes (Ovid’s Heroides). During the Renaissance and thereafter it was the Horatian kind which had the greater influence. Petrarch, Ariosto and Boileau all wrote such letters which were 30
about essential principles of morality for human beings. In England, letter writing took a serious form in the Eighteenth century. Pope proved to be the most skilled practitioner of this form, especially in his Moral Essays (1731) and An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (1735). In these verse letters he reached the height of the philosophical letter writing and made these form popular in the intellectual circles of the times. More recent poets have revived the form, which was not much favored in the 19th century. Auden’s Letter to Lord Byron is a good example; so is his New Year Letter. A very famous instance from of literary letter writing from India is Letters from a Father to His Daughter, a collection of 30 letters written by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1928 to his daughter Indira Gandhi, when she was 10 years old, teaching about natural history and the story of civilizations. So letters are very much the part of literary traditions. Though business and professional letters are very much in use, literary letters are becoming outdated with the introduction of new communication technologies. The new social media interaction avenues like internet and telephone has limited the scope and significance of literary letter writing. 4.4
Definition and Conventions Derived from three Greek words meaning “self,” “life,” and “write,” autobiography is a form of writing that has been around as early as history has been recorded. However, autobiography was not treated as a genre within itself until the late eighteenth century. Robert Southey coined the term in 1809 to describe the work of a Portuguese poet. In his book, Inside Out, E. Stuart Bates gives a functional definition of autobiography as “a narrative of the past of a person by the person concerned”. Scholars do not think that there are any limitations or minimums on how much of a life must be revealed in a work for it to be classified as autobiography. Many factual accounts, though not intended to be an autobiography per se, can be categorized as such because they contain “a selfrevealed personality”. Autobiography is a popular genre. Writers of memoirs and life stories never lack an audience. People are interested in the actual lives of others and want to know about others’ pasts and feelings and desires. Though autobiography is a very loose form so it is very difficult to underline its conventions, still there are many characteristics that are common to the majority of autobiographical works. These features are the grammatical perspective of the work, the identity of the self, and self-reflection and introspection. Most autobiographies are written from the first person singular perspective. This is obvious because autobiography is usually a story that a person tells about himself. It would not naturally follow then that the writer would recount his or her past from a second or third person perspective. Jean Quigley confirms this point in her book The Grammar of Autobiography by saying that “As soon as we are asked about ourselves, to tell our autobiography, we start to tell stories. We tell what happened, what we said, what we did”. The next distinguishing quality of an autobiography is that the author, the narrator, and the protagonist must share a common identity for the work to be considered an autobiography. It means that the author is telling the story through himself as a narrator about his own life. Now one limitation of an autobiography is the validity of its presented truth. As the author cannot describe events objectively, even the most accurate autobiographies have fictional elements. In fact the dividing line between fact and fiction in an autobiography is quite thin and sometimes they overlap each other. This blurring of fact and fiction makes an autobiography a valid entry into the genres of literature. An autobiography may be largely fictional. Rousseau’s Confessions (published posthumously in 1781 and 1788) are a case in point. They are unreliable as literal truth; they have a different literary value. There is even a subcategory known as ‘Auto fiction’ in which a writer recounts some imaginary experiences happened to him. The difference between traditional 31
autobiography and the genre of auto fiction is that autobiographers are attempting to depict their real life while writers of auto fiction are only basing their work upon real experiences. Writers of auto fiction are not expected to be as historically accurate as possible as autobiographers are. Though the purpose of the most of autobiographers is to create the impression of objective authenticity, they, unlike biographers, are not expected to reveal all about their subject. Autobiographers have freedom to shape their life story in whatever manner they choose. They are at liberty to select what they want to include or omit. They can either simplify or amplify an event or even they can leave out the skeletons in the closet if they desire. The author can put an emphasized focus on certain aspects, period or event of his life which he thinks to be more crucial than the other ones. It is the privilege of the autobiographer to select and elaborate the order and importance of his life incidents. Autobiography is a form of introspection. When authors write about their past, they cannot be free from emotions. Revealing character’s intentions, thoughts, and emotions is a way through which the narrator evaluates and explains why events occurred as they did. By explaining what happened in the past, the author is able to express to the reader how his self evolved. History and Development From Classical times very few in the modern sense of the term autobiography survives, and it is likely that little was written. At that time history and autobiography were meant to be almost the same thing - as we can see from the Histories of Herodotus, Xenophon’s Anabasis and Caesar’s Commentaries. The first autobiography of any note was St Augustine’s Confessions of the 4th century. It is an intensely personal account of the spiritual experiences and at the same time it is an extraordinary example of psychological self-analysis of a kind that has become commonplace only in modern times. From early in the 17th century it became more and more the practice to keep a personal diary or a journal and to compile memoirs; and soon the autobiographical narratives began to become popular. Some famous examples include, Thomas Bodley’s brief account of his own life published in 1647; John Bunyan’s spiritual account of his life in Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). During the same period Evelyn and Pepys were compiling their famous diaries. Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici (1642) was also a great autobiography written in confessional tone. Several similar works of great merit appeared during the 18th century. For example, Colley Cibber’s Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber(1740), is considered to be the first ‘theatrical’ autobiography; David Hume’s My Own Life (1777) and Edward Gibbon’s Memoirs (1796) can be put in the same category. The two most famous personal accounts of the 18th century were Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography (1766) and Rousseau’s Confessions (1781 and 1788). These two books are taken to be the most influential autobiographies ever written and are still very popular among the readers. In the beginning of the 19th century we find a new type of autobiography…disguised autobiography or autobiography written in the form of fiction. Some early and classical examples of this autobiographical fiction were Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Sterne’s Sentimental Journey (1768). Wordsworth even used the verse poem to record his growth as a poet in his long discursive poem The Prelude completed in 1805 and published posthumously in 1850. Since the mid of 19th century autobiography of various types have become quite popular and personalities from diverse field have published their life stories with increasing proliferation. Some of the more celebrated instances are Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864); John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography (1873); Carlyle’s Reminiscences (1881) and Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi (1883). The debilitating experiences of the First World War produced a number of very fine autobiographical records: T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926); Robert Graves’s Good-Bye to All That (1927) and Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930). 32
The latter half 20th century witnessed a huge increase in autobiographical writing. The craving and curiosity to know about the heroes have resulted in the publication of autobiography from every field especially politician, sportsmen and bureaucrats of high ranks. So we can assume the autobiography is one of the most popular forms of non-fiction and its demand seems to be everincreasing. 4.5
Definition A biography is indeed the most popular form of non-fiction writing in the modern era. In simple words, a biography is the history of a lifetime. It narrates the most important facts of someone’s life, his or her childhood, adolescence, educational background, professional life, marriage, children, and most outstanding achievements. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae (résumé), a biography presents a subject’s life story, focusing on various aspects of his or her life, and it may also include a psychological analysis of the subject’s personality. Dryden defined it as the ‘history of particular men’s lives’. As a literary form it has become increasingly popular since the second half of the 17th century, before which period it is rare. It is very important to understand the technical difference between a biography and an autobiography. These both forms are used to tell a life story and both include the same pattern…highlighting certain incidents and events over the other events and focusing on particular traits of its subject. The difference between the two is that of perspective and narration. While an autobiography is written by the person concerned himself, a biography is written by someone else. As such a biography is not written in the first person. As far as the validity of the truth recorded in an autobiography or a biography, indeed autobiography is generally considered to be more authentic. At the same time if we look out for objectivity, indeed a biography is a more objective analysis of life than an autobiography. So while an autobiography is more relied source of information of a person’s life, a biography is more detached and thus more objective analysis of the life of its subject. History and Development The origins of biography are without doubt to be found in the early accounts of kings and heroes; in, for example, in the Old Testament stories or in the Greek, Celtic and Scandinavian epics and sagas. However, it was the Roman historians like Plutarch and Tacitus who can be taken as the pioneers of the form. Plutarch’s Parallel Lives (1st century AD) covered twenty-three Greeks and twenty-three Romans, arranged in pairs. They proved an important source of plots for many plays, including some by Shakespeare. The main biographical work of Tacitus is contained in his Histories which deal with the reigns of the emperors from Galba to Domitian. It is in the works of these writers that we find the first distinction between history and biographical writing. Medieval historians like Geoffrey of Monmouth, Matthew Paris and others, tried to put more emphasis on the failings and strengths in their histories which often blurred the objectivity and make their work biographical. But it is not until the sixteenth century that we find the first recognizable biographies to appear. Cardinal Morton’s Life of Richard III (1513) Roper’s Life of More (1535) and Cavendish’s Life of Wolsey (1554–7) are variously claimed as the first true biography, though as a literary genre it was far from being recognized. It was still treated as a diluted form of history. The seventeenth century saw Bacon’s Life of Henry VIII (1621), Walton’s Lives (1640–78) and, Aubrey’s Minutes of Lives which he began collecting in the 1660s and in which he persisted till his death. It is in this work of Aubrey that we have first glimpses of modern biographical writing with its minute detailing on the characteristics and oddities of a personality. But it is in the eighteenth century and with Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets (1779–81) that the form is established beyond a doubt with his claim for its recognition as a literary form and his insistence on its peculiar virtue 33
being that a biography alone seeks to tell the literal truth. Dr. Johnson himself latter became the subject of one of the most authentic biographies of all times in Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1791). In the nineteenth century, biography continued to flourish and many biographies of eminent personalities came to be published. With the culmination of the Romantic period biography writing took a serious turn and many disguised biographies in the form of novel were published, the best example being Butler’s The Way of All Flesh (1903). With the publication of Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918) the standards, both in objectivity and in witty skill were established for all those who were to follow him. With this brilliant collection of life sketches the modern biography established itself. The main claim of modern biographers is an inclination for objectivity towards the subject chosen, pointing out that by choosing the form they are dealing in fact, not fiction. However, this claim cannot be taken too seriously for by the mid-20th century we can witness many biographies written within fictional framework. The traditional distinctions between biography, personal history (diary/confession) and novel (especially first-person narrative and/or tape-recorded novels) begin to be questioned. For writers in African countries like Achebe and Soyinka biography writing is not a form for recording the events of a lifetime but a means of defining their identity. The line of distinction between novel and biography becomes almost blurring in this context. Modern biographers have taken a new turn by having a degree of artifice in their writing. Some authors have shown an imaginative, inventive and speculative approach to literary biography as to be found in such works as Peter Ackroyd’s Dickens (1990) and D. J. Taylor’s Thackeray (1999). Since the 1950s the art of biography has flourished and biography has become a major publishing industry. There is a vast quantity of historical and political biographies and the majority of those who have become prominent in the performing arts and in sport have also had biographies written about them. Every year we witness biographies written about not only the famous personalities of various fields but also that of the infamous ones. As a form of non-fictional writing, biography today indeed is the most alluring and bankable form with ever increasing demand. Now biography writing has come too far from being mere accumulation of facts of a life…it has become a stylized statement upon the life history of its subject and thus its literary value has become more pronounced and enhanced. 4.6
Definition An essay is basically short piece of non-fiction writing written generally from personal point of view. It is such a loose and flexible form of expression that it is almost impossible to define it and designate its scope. In fact any type of writing in which a writer presents his opinion on any subject can be termed as an essay. That is why Aldous Huxley described the essay as: “a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything.” The word essay derives from the French infinitive essayer, “to try” or “to attempt”. The Frenchman Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) was the first author to describe his work as essays and he used the term to characterize these as “attempts” to put his thoughts into writing. There are indeed certain criteria to consider a written piece of non-fiction as an essay. First of all an essay should be a brief discussion on the subject. Though there is no definite limitation regarding the length of an essay, theoretically an essay can be as long as a whole book, like Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding; still it is generally a brief account of a given topic. It is not detailed, all comprehensive exposition of the subject; it is only a limited version of the writer’s point of view on that topic. Secondly an essay is discursive, usually informal piece of writing as such it is different from a thesis or a dissertation which is written in a formal style. Again essay is considered
chiefly as a prose form but there are exceptions to this point also as we have Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man. The most distinguishing feature of an essay is that it tries to prove a certain point. It is in this aspect that an essay is different from an article or any other form of prose non-fiction. The writer of an essay develops the essay in such a way that it leads to a certain logical conclusion to the arguments presented in the essay. A writer of an essay may employ different techniques and may claim different level of conclusiveness but his essential aim in writing the essay is to prove his point of view. So essay is much more than the mere piece of information on a given subject. Style and Elements An essayist is free to choose any particular style suitable to his subject. Generally there are certain methods employed by an essayist to reach his goal. An essay does have elements of comparison and contrast, cause and effect chain, exemplification, hypothetical arguments and classification and division. All these elements help the essayist to elucidate his point of view in rational manner. However it depends completely on the essayist what particular elements he uses and he can even write an essay without using any of the above mentioned elements. As far as the judgment value of an essay goes, apart from the force of the argument, it is generally assumed that a good essay should possess at least three qualities…analytical of its subject, brevity of expression and clarity of thought. These are known as the ABC of a good essay. All great essayists have been acknowledged for displaying these three qualities and have produced great essays. Types of Essay It is very difficult to classify essays into watertight categories because it is a very flexible and adaptable form. There are also various criteria for the classification of essays. Some divide it into two broad categories, the one as formal, impersonal, systematic, and expository and the other as informal, personal, intimate, relaxed and conversational…one to be found in the works of essayists like Bacon and Hazlitt and other to be found in the works of writers like Montaigne and Lamb. However in modern academic circles we have more sophisticated classification of essay. Now days we divide essay broadly in four categories: a.
The expository essay: In this type of essay a writer explains a short theme, idea or issue. This type of essay is also used to give our personal comment upon the events happening around us in socio-eco-political world. Most of the articles published in newspapers or on the blogs come into this category. The famous English essayist, Bacon wrote most of his essays in the expository style. The persuasive essay: In a persuasive essay, the essayist tries to convince the readers of a particular point. The essayist presents a certain proposition and with the help of arguments tries to win the favor of his readers. The analytical essay: In this type of essay, the essayist analyzes, examines and interprets such things as an event, book, poem, play or other work of art. The analytical essay claims to be an objective analysis of its subject and the essayist is generally taken to be an expert on the field. The argumentative essay: This is the type of essay where the essayist proves that his opinion, theory or hypothesis about an issue is correct or more truthful than those of others. In short, it is very similar to the persuasive essay, but the difference is that the writer is arguing for his opinion as opposed to others, rather than directly trying to persuade someone to adopt his point of view.
Though the above mentioned classification is quite inclusive, we cannot assume that all essays can be put under these categories. There are definitely essays which do not come under any of the above categories like anecdotes, literary essays or any other ‘disperse meditations’, such is the fluidity of essay as a writing form. History and Development Montaigne coined the word essai when, in 1580, he gave the title Essais to his first publication. In 1597 Bacon described his Essays as ‘grains of salt which will rather give an appetite than offend with satiety’. Whereas Montaigne was discursive, informal and intimate; Bacon was terse, didactic and aloof. In fact it was Bacon who popularized and established the essay form in England and justifiably he is known as the father of English essay. Bacon wrote on matters of day to day importance and offered his practical advice to the readers. He wrote more than a hundred essays in a typical aphoristic style which made his essays a storehouse of memorable quotations. The topics of his essay include both public and private life…On Truth, On Envy, On Love, On Simulation and Dissimulation, on Unity in Religion, On Revenge, On Parents and Children etc. In the 1660s, Abraham Cowley became the second important practitioner of the English essay, but unlike Bacon he followed the Montaigne tradition of personal and reflective informality. He wrote of such subjects as liberty, solitude, avarice, the fickleness of life and he wrote in length upon himself. In the latter half of the 17th century, it was John Dryden who consolidated the essay form by writing deep analytical and critical essays. His Essay On Dramatic Poesy (1668) was first of its type and set a benchmark for all coming generations. However, we can assume without doubt that the 18th century saw the real flourishing of the essay form as a literary genre. A number of periodicals began to be published like…The Spectator, The Tatler, The Guardian, The Rambler, The Bee and so on. These periodicals and the socio-political environment of the time were quite conducive for essay writing. As such we find a host of great essay writers writing at the same time, to name some of the most eminent…Richard Steele, Addison, Dr. Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith and Swift. The essay has established itself since the 18th century as a serious literary form and we have eminent writers penning down their observations and meditations, their reflection on society and changing of time, their concerns regarding the problems facing the mankind and their arguments in favor or against certain topics have delighted and enlightened their readers. Charles Lamb, Hazlitt, De Quiency, Coleridge, Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, E.V. Lucas. G.K. Chesterton, J.B. Priestley, Bertrand Russell, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, George Orwell and David Lodge are a few of the names that have enriched the art of essays with their great insights and brilliant style of prose essay writing. Today essay has become an important tool in both academics and social-political life. The increase in print and electronic media has given enough space and scope for all those who have something to say and indeed we never heard in our literary history so many dissenting voices before. This augurs well for the future of essay writing. 4.7
Definition Though travel writing is as old as travelling itself but it is relatively new genre if we go by the recognition of travelogue as a branch of non-fictive literary writing. In fact a travelogue or travel writing is not mere logging of dates and places visited. It has a literary aspiration to it and the travel writer brings a subjective touch to his travel account which enriches its literary value. Up to the 20th century travelogue was a rather neglected genre though many famous writers have contributed to this genre. This genre includes works of exploration and adventure as well as guides and accounts of 36
journey in foreign lands. The travel writing has enriched the general human experience as it includes not only vivid descriptions of the landscapes but recording of the first hand experiences of the traveller. In the present times travelogue has become a very popular form of non-fiction.
History and Development The earliest example of travel writings are found in the works of Ibn Jubayr(1145–1214) and Ibn Batutta (1304–1377), both of whom recorded their travels across the known world in detail. In fact the travel genre was quite common in medieval Arabic literature. During and after the Renaissance period, many explorers and navigators from Europe travelled across the globe in search of new lands and some of them had left enriching accounts of their perilous journeys and interesting encounters. After the 16th century as the world became more navigable and better known, so travel books of every kind proliferated. Some more celebrated examples of travel writing past four hundred years include works like, Richard Hawkins’s Voyage in the Pacific (1594), Hakluyt’s Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation (1598) and James Lancaster’s Voyage to the East Indies (1603). Perhaps the best of all 17th century travel books is the ten volumes written by Evliya Celebi in the course of his travels through the Ottoman Empire in Europe, Asia and Africa. In the 18th century we have Defoe’s A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724), Sterne’s Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768) and so on. The 19th century saw great advancement in transportation and travelling became more comfortable and easier as such travel writing has also become more prolific. And in the recent times travel writings have become a sort of professional writing with a crew video documenting the whole journey. We have even dedicated media channels about travellers and travelogues. The interest in traveling and hunger to know the foreign and unexplored places is still quite alive and thus we find that travel writing is still quite in demand. 4.8
News Bulletin and Reports
With the rapid increase in the communication techniques, new media platforms have been evolved where news can be shared with the public. Unlike earlier times when the government authority had the only right to publish any news regarding the policies and major decisions, the modern world is abuzz with “Breaking News” per sec. @24*7. As such the scripting of news bulletin has also become a sort of non-fictional writing which has to be written in such a way as to cater to the taste of its audience and can compete with the similar competitors. Now while writing a news bulletin, certain things must be kept in mind. A news bulletin is essentially a factual presentation of a report or reports. It has minimal scope for fictional elements and it must have a tone of scientific objectivity. Writing a news bulletin demands certain technical skills as well as certain writing skills. There are basically three types of sources of information which are used in preparing a news bulletin. These sources are: •
written stories in the form of a script;
voice reports from journalists, either recorded or live;
Recorded sound called actuality.
The structure of a news bulletin is very simple; it includes Headlines, Reports and Stories, Closing Stories and Closing Headlines. Generally headlines are the gist of the main story/report. They should be catchy and capable of arousing the curiosity of its reader and listener. The main 37
report should be very clinical and non-dramatically presented. It should be balanced in its content and is written in such a way that it communicates the main story in a simple, lucid yet analytic manner. There should be proper ration of facts, data, examples and analytical inputs. Now the report or the main story is the backbone of a news bulletin. Sometimes a catchy headline arrests the attention of the reader but dull and unimpressive report can easily mar the effect. As such while writing reports, a reporter should bear in his mind that report should not be too technical or too abstract. It is always good to take aid of graphics and pictures to make the report easy to comprehend. The closing report has a significant value in the news bulletin. It not only sums up the main story but also provides the analyst’s or the specialist’s final word on the story. It may also show the inclination of the bulletin writer towards a particular aspect of the story. The closing headlines are most often repeated opening headlines. So writing a news bulletin and the report demands different type of writing skills than most of the other forms of non-fiction writing. It should be prompt, lucid and analytic and only a professional training can make a writer capable of writing news bulletins. 4.9
Let Us Sum Up
In this unit we have discussed various forms of non- fictional prose writings including the earliest forms like essay and biography to the relatively newer ones like travelogues and report writing. These non-fictional forms of creative writing have enriched the annals of literature as they are like storehouse of invaluable information. These minor genres of literature have their definitive role in the intellectual molding of society. The unit also throws light on the emerging genre of news reporting which has much scope for the upcoming talents. 4.10
Review Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
How is biography different from autobiography? Give at least two examples of both the forms. Discuss different types of essays in brief. What is a travelogue? How is it different from diary? What are the basic things one should keep in mind while writing a news bulletin? Write either an imaginary travelogue or a news bulletin on the basis of your reading of the unit.
Bibliography 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Pub., 1993. Adorno ,Theodor W. , “The Essay as Form” : Theodor W. Adorno, The Adorno Reader. New York: Blackwell Publishers, 2000. Anderson, Linda R. Autobiography: New Critical Idiom. New York: Routledge, 2001. Bates, E. Stuart. Inside Out: An Introduction to Autobiography. New York: Sheridan House, 1937. Batten, Charles Lynn . Pleasurable Instruction: Form and Convention in EighteenthCentury Travel Literature. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1978 Berryman, Charles. Critical Mirrors: Theories of Autobiography. London: Mosaic, 1999. Cuddon, J. A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. London: Penguin Books, 1991. Heilbrun, Carolyn G. Writing a Woman’s Life. New York: W. W. Norton, 1988. 38
9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
Kendall, Paul Murray . The Art of Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 1965. Lee, Hermione. Biography: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2009. Porter, Roger J., and H. R. Wolf. The Voice Within: Reading and Writing Autobiography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1973. Quigley, Jean. The Grammar of Autobiography: A Developmental Account. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2000. Speake, Jennifer. Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn. 2003 Vidal, Gore. Palimpsest: A Memoir. New York: Random House, 1995 Warburton, Nigel. The Basics of Essay Writing. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Unit - 5 Idea, Thought and Theme: Genesis and Structure Structure 5.0 Objectives 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Common Obstacles to a Writer 5.3 Strategies of a Writer 5.4 Establishing a Theme 5.5 Structure of Writing 5.6 Let us Sum Ups 5.7 Review Questions 5.8 Bibliography 5.0
In this unit we shall discuss the genesis and structure of idea, thought and theme including the common obstacles generally faced by writers and suggest various strategies writers need to employ and eventually how to establish a theme. Lastly we shall give you an overview of the structure of writing. 5.1
Introduction “Ideas come from everything” ― Alfred Hitchcock
To write, one needs to generate, organize, and communicate ideas. Genesis means the “origin or a creation, or beginning”. One may wish to write something personal, perhaps a letter to a friend, or an article, a story, a journal piece, but for some reason one cannot think up a topic. You tend to ask yourself — Can I write this piece of writing? Am I able to think? Do I have the mental energy? Am I fueled by a sense of inspiration? Are thoughts, which are broadly, conscious suggestions, stamped by intellect to become ideas? Do I have sufficient ideas to put on paper? Are my ideas both systematic and creative? For any writer, it’s vital to be able to generate ideas and get on with the work. Thoughts lead to an idea. Warren puts it, “Thinking is an activity concerning ideas. It is symbolic in character, initiated by a problem or task which the individual is facing, involving some trial and error but under the directing influence of the problem and ultimately leading to a conclusion or solution of the problem.” Thinking calls for assistance of percepts, images, concepts, signs and formulae of which it makes abundant use. These instruments of thinking are internal. Thinking continues to be an internal activity unless and until it takes the form of verbal thinking. According to C.S. Peirce, “Thought is a thread of melody running through the succession of our sensations.” To know what we think, to be masters of our own meaning, will make a solid foundation for great and weighty thought. David Hume in his essay “Of the Origin of Idea” states that “our thought is a faithful mirror, and copies its
objects truly but the colours which it employs are faint and dull, in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were clothed. Therefore, the ability to think; generate and organize ideas can impact the richness of your final piece of writing. In order to generate and organize ideas well, a writer must be able to get started and concentrate on the task as well as monitor the quality of their work. Depending on the type of writing task, there is a need to be able to present one’s perspective and think creatively to come up with new ideas because a decision has to be made what to write about, develop a topic, research a topic, produce original thoughts, elaborate on ideas, use prior knowledge, think critically, and apply new and learned concepts. 5.2
Common Obstacles to a Writer The following table below shows some of the common obstacles faced by a writer: Necessary skills required a
Independently, You don’t know how Ø Be attentive. you are able to to get started with a start writing. creative piece of Ø Use your mental energy to focus. writing. Ø Break your activity into series of steps. Ø You can even “jump-start” to keep yourself motivated.
You are able to work, even when you do not feel like exerting ay effort during a writing activity.
You might feel lazy or Ø Avoid any distraction. bored during the writing task and have Ø Avoid making careless mistakes. poor concentration, Ø Use affinity areas/topics/ activities especially on a less of high interest to you. interesting topic. Ø Adjust the rate and complexity of information required to produce the proposed writing. Ø Modify your schedule during periods of sufficient mental energy. Ø Schedule “quiet time” during the day. Ø Changing locations can also help you keep motivated.
You need to selfmonitor yourself regularly,making adjustments trying different
You are not able to Ø Oversee the quality and pace of monitor the quality of production. your work and rarely, if ever, you feel like Ø Think effectiveness of your strategy based on a particular outcome. modifying your 41
Ø Keep a checklist of the important components or steps of the writing process.
strategies for strategies. constant progression.
Ø While proof reading, use COPS — Capitalization, Organization, Punctuation, Spelling. Ø Prepare a list of questions to start the self-monitoring process like: Am I clear on this point? Do I understand how it connects to what I have already written? … d
You are able to It is difficult for you to organize your generate ideas or think ideas into logical in a creative manner. order and maintain cohesion and coherence.
Ø Brainstorm Ø Take risk to think innovatively. Ø Think critically using HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills). Ø Use the technique —Prepare, Incubate, Inspire, Verify. Ø Use anaphora and cataphora Ø Use presupposition and implications. Ø Use ellipsis and substitution. Ø Draw pictures, tables, tape recorder, graphic organizers, etc.
You should be able to come up with original ideas and to think creatively when writing.
You should know the form and structure of writing.
You find it difficult to Ø Use verbal reasoning — come up with original • Form a argument topics and organize ideas during writing. • Challenge the ideas of the argument •
Think of additional ideas.
You find yourself Use DARE struggling with • Develop topic sentence linguistic expression, form and you do not • Add supporting ideas know how to structure your writing properly. • Reject at least one argument for the other side • 42
End with conclusion
Use PLEASE strategy (Welsh, M. 1992) •
Pick a topic, audience and format
List information on topic
Evaluate list\activate paragraph with topic sentence
Supply supporting sentences
End with a concluding sentence and evaluate.
Steve Jobs, an American entrepreneur, marketer, and inventor, who was the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. , who has been listed as one of the most charismatic personalities in the world of computers says about ideas: “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” Often there is a tendency among novice writers not plan before writing. Such persons prefer to “jump in” and just start writing. However, for becoming a good writer, it is important to sharpen your skills in progression and take time to think about what you want to say before writing. It must be learnt that effective writing is not an emergency event and that the processes of planning, thinking, and organizing are just as important as the final product. A good creative writer is part a scientist and part an artist. Like a scientist, one has to be willing to ask questions systematically, inquiring about how things work, the ways they work, where they occur, and how to research them. WILL must be there, like an artist, to use what you know to create something new and imaginative. This is the first step in the writing process — coming up with your thoughts and ideas— known as prewriting. Prewriting helps the creative writer gather ideas and provide a bank of possibilities for their writing. Pre-writing also facilitates a writer when writing the final draft on a topic since the writer does not have to make decisions simultaneously about content and language at that stage. In other words, at this level, ideas are recorded for easy reference when planning and drafting. 5.3
Strategies of a Writer Let us now discuss some strategies, which help to generate and organize ideas: i)
Brainstorming : It is a powerful and very useful technique. This means putting down on paper all your ideas associated with the topic that you want to write about. Brainstorming is an essential part of good thinking, and it is also an essential part of coming to good decisions. How does it help? Firstly, it helps you get out good ideas and information. Secondly, it fosters creativity; it encourages people to see possibilities. Brainstorming causes you to stretch— to not stop at the first thing that comes to your mind but to keep thinking. Thirdly, brainstorming is fun, and we get caught up with thinking in a way that makes us want to 43
think some more. Here a word of caution is needed —Do not let your mind wander in negative thinking! However, you can think critically if required according to your subject/topic. Each person has all the experiences he or she needs for brainstorming. Here are some suggestions: • • • • • •
Relax ! Let mental pictures freely come to your mind. Concentrate on what you’re brainstorming about. Try to get everything else off your mind and focus on the subject at hand. Don’t criticize or judge your own ideas internally. If you do, you’ll start hesitating and being too careful. Take creative risks; think in terms of no limits. Believe in and use your own experiences as a springboard for ideas.
You can feel free to use a tree-diagram. It will help structure thinking within the particular category. For example if you want to write an article about media:
Clustering is a way of generating ideas by mapping and organizing them as they occur. It works as follows: 1) 2) 3)
In a word or phrase, write your topic in the center of a piece of paper. Circle it. Also in a word or phrase, write down the main parts or central ideas of your topic. Circle these, and connect them to the topic in the center. The next step is to generate facts, details, examples, or ideas related in any way to these main parts. Cluster these around the main parts.
For example, if you’re brainstorming for fiction, try combining ideas from opposite sides of your page – you could even stick a pencil in at random. Juxtaposing two very different elements can give you that spark you need to come up with something truly creative. iii)
Listing is an easy way to generate ideas and sort them. Here is how listing works best for creative writing: 1) 2) 3)
Prepare a list of titles that indicates your main idea. Write as fast as you can, relying on short words or phrases. Let anything your mind generates flow, whether or not it seems useful. When you have exhausted the list, you can organize it by marking the most promising items, sorting items in related groups, numbering key items in order of importance, deleting items that are unpromising, and adding new items to the list.
You can also use your list to prepare a spider diagram for creating a visual memory and organization.
Draw lines to connect related ideas together: sometimes one thought won’t in itself be enough for you to write a whole article from it, but several points could combine together well. Alternatively, one topic may be far too broad – so jot down sub-points around it. iv)
It is also a very useful tool to generate ideas. Cubing helps in synthesizing six different perspectives on a topic simultaneously. Therefore it is understood as “six-sided activity”. The six perspectives are : Describing — What does it look? Size? Shape? Color? Costume? Characteristics? Comparing — Similarities? Differences? Associating — What does it remind you of? Allusions? Analyzing — How is it made? Where did it come from? What are the aims and objectives? Applying — How useful? What can you do with it? Arguing — Arguments in favour; In opposition? To use cubing productively, keep your topic in focus; write quickly jotting your ideas. It is wise not to limit yourself to your present knowledge. Indicate what you need to learn about your topic, and where you might find such information. Look for surprises, “hot spots” that indicate some special area of interest, insight, or immediacy. You can use clustering or outlining to organize your material. If you limit yourself to three to five minutes from each perspective, you will complete the entire activity in half an hour. v)
Dramatizing Dramatizing allows you to think about human behavior in dramatic terms. Dramatizing has a limited but powerful scope. Many creative writers find it invaluable when writing personal narrative (to learn more about themselves or other significant people), when writing about literature, or when writing to inform or persuade (to analyze the intended audience). Drama has action, actors, setting, motives, and methods, and each of these points provides a different perspective on behaviour.
To kindle ideas you can start thinking answers to Wh-words : What, When Where, Why, Who and How. For example if you want to write a story or a play, you can begin by asking:
What is the character doing? What are the physical events/ mental events/ emotional events?
How did the character get involved in the situation? How far is he/she affected by the action? What is the result of those actions?
When did the action take place? Where did these events happen? Where is the setting of the scene?
Why does this character do this? What else might the character do? What are his true intentions? What can the character become?
What is being done? How is it being accomplished? What are the techniques used by the character to achieve it?
What do the actions reveal? How does the setting influence the characters and actions?
Freewriting and Looping
Freewriting generates ideas by “freeing” the link between your brain and your pen. It is also termed as “automatic writing,” “babbling,” or “jabbering”. Broadly, the idea is simply to write for ten minutes or perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes on a chosen topic. Freewriting may at prima facie may seem crazy, but when practiced, it certainly makes sense. Remember! Do not stop or reflect back. Do not wonder how to spell something, or wonder what word or thought to use, or to think about what you are doing. The objective is to write as quickly and as freely as you can, and generate as many ideas as possible in a timed period. Even if you cannot think of a word or a spelling, just use a squiggle or else write “I can’t think now what to say”. It is important to go on writing and not to stop. Looping, is again, a strategy of returning to and focusing on your topic. It is especially a useful tool. From almost any starting point, you can find a center of interest and eventually a thesis. With each loop, your ideas should become more focused and articulated. The steps are simple: 1)
2) 3) 4) 5) vii)
Write down your area of interest. Write nonstop for five minutes. Write rapidly, without stopping to correct or reread. The point is to generate ideas on paper, so your pencil must keep moving. If you “block,” or grind to a halt, rewrite the title of your topic a few times to get going. At the end, decide what is most important—a thought, a pattern of ideas, a phrase, a detail. Writers call this the “hot spot.” To complete the loop, express this thought in a single sentence on a fresh sheet of paper. Beginning with this sentence, write nonstop for five minutes. If necessary, you can loop again and again till you arrive at a tentative thesis idea.
Asking questions about a subject or a topic is a way to learn about it and decide what to write. What is your subject? What is its name? Other names? What aspects do the names emphasize? What would a still photograph or moving picture look like? What would you put in a time capsule to 46
represent your subject? What have you learned about it? Where does your subject fit in the world? Besides, you can frame questions based on the following: a)
Closed questions: These require a yes or no answer and are useful for checking facts. However, you have to be cautious because too many closed questions can cause frustration and shut down of the thinking process. Specific questions: These are used to determine facts.
For example “How much did you spend on that item? “. c) d)
Probing questions: These explore specific areas and check for more detail or clarification. Hypothetical questions: These pose a theoretical situation in the future.
For example, “What would you do if…?’ e) f)
Reflective questions: These can be used to reflect back to what you think. Leading questions: These are used to gain acceptance.
Try to answer each of these questions at least briefly with a word or phrase, but if you wish, you can spend several sentences, even an entire page, on a promising question. Try to be thorough but playful. The task is finally to generate as many ideas as possible in a short period of time. viii)
Making Flow Chart
Flow-charting is most effective when examining cause and effect relationships. Flow charting is similar to cluster mapping in that it shows relationships between ideas. This means that you put the topic in the middle and put the ideas around it under different headings. For example: If you want to write an article on burning issue of drug abuse, keep the central theme in the center of your page; make list of causes for drug abuse to the left with arrows pointing at the central idea. What causes drug abuse? Peer pressure, medical need, parental example and boredom are all potential causes of drug abuse. Each would therefore be in its own box in the diagram with an arrow pointing from it to the central idea of drug abuse. Then examine the effects of drug abuse and place those in separate boxes to the right of the central idea each with an arrow going from the central idea to it. Homelessness, loss of jobs, failure in school, isolation, further abuse and addiction may all be results of drug abuse. When writing, you can then focus on either half of the diagram (causes of drug abuse or effects of drug abuse) or follow the cause and effect pathway from cause to effect and cause to effect. Depending on the topic, the writer may create a chain of cause and effect relationships and choose to write about the series.
Depending on the topic, the writer may create a chain of cause and effect relationships and choose to write about the series. 5.4
Establishing A Theme “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on a flea, though many there be that have tried it.” — Herman Menville
A theme is a central message of a literary work. It is the underlying idea in a piece of writing. Every piece of writing, no matter whether it is a novel, story, an article should have a dominant theme. Theme works as a unifying thread through every paragraph or chapter. “The theme in a story is associated with an idea that lies behind the story.” (Clugston, 2010) Whatever you write should, in some way, relate to that theme. It is what makes a piece of writing an organic whole and lets it stand alone as a meaningful expression. Themes can generally be divided into two categories: a work’s thematic concept which unfolds ‘what readers think about the work’ and its thematic statement which is ‘what the work says about the subject’. Moreover, a theme is significant at two levels — (1) it forces you to decide on a clear, simple interpretation before you begin writing, and (2) it provides your reader with a summary of your interpretation. The theme of a creative piece may never be directly stated. It should gradually be revealed through the development of the work and may only be fully apprehended by the reader at the very end. A creative work is thematically in contrast with a business letter or technical writing, wherein the theme should be immediately obvious and clear as well as it has to be stated. In a novel, we often find that a theme branches out into several sub-themes. Because of its length, the novel allows for this kind of interweaving of themes and ideas. Let’s take an example of One Night @ the Call Centre by Chetan Bhagat, a popular novelist of our times. The major theme in this novel is the anxieties and insecurities of the middle class which provides a plenty of room for developing a critique of the society at large as well as man-woman relationship, marriage, love and the culture of modern Multi-national Companies in specific. Besides, all characters — Shyam, Priyanka, Esha, Vroom, Radhika, Military Uncle — have their personal woes. These woes of the characters weave several sub-themes into the dominant theme. It is certainly important that all subthemes should turn in some way to the dominant theme, to enrich our understanding and experience of that dominant idea. In Drama, Hamlet, for instance, themes of death, revenge, and action, to name a few are dealt with. Nonetheless, they unfold themselves indirectly through actions and events answering how many uncertainties our lives are built upon, how many unknown quantities are taken for 48
granted when people act or when they evaluate one another’s actions. In Hamlet, the question of how to act is affected not only by rational considerations, such as the need for certainty, but also by emotional, ethical, and psychological factors. Hamlet himself appears to distrust the idea that it’s even possible to act in a controlled, purposeful way. When he does act, he prefers to do it blindly, recklessly, and violently. The other characters obviously think much less about “action” in the abstract than Hamlet does, and are therefore less troubled about the possibility of acting effectively. Shakespeare also develops incest, misogyny, symbol of Yorick’s skull, which Hamlet discovers in the graveyard in the first scene of Act V to strengthen, vitalize and brace the main theme — ‘To be or not to be’. In comparison, a short story or poem might focus entirely on one theme. For instance, the short story of The Thirsty Crow. “The story states —how on a hot day, a thirsty crow flew all over the fields looking for water but in vain; how suddenly, he saw a pitcher below the tree with some water; how he used his brains to plan to drink the water at the bottom of the pitcher by picking up pebbles one by one and dropping each one of them into the pitcher; as more and more pebbles filled the pitcher, the water level kept rising. Soon it was high enough for the crow to drink. His plan had worked!” This theme is didactic : Think and work hard, you may find solution to any problem. There are no sub-themes in the over-all design of the story. Besides, there is no illustration or allusion to any sub-theme. However, no since one idea or experience is self-sufficient, but inevitably relates to and rests on other ideas and experiences, there are usually subtle or even overt references to other ideas and themes. The theme is the main idea in the story. The theme may be directly stated by the author of the story. When it is, we say the theme is explicit. Usually, however the reader must discover the theme through a careful reading of the story. When the theme must be inferred from the story we say the theme is implicit. Again a word of caution here — Be careful not to confuse plot with theme. The theme is the core of abstract meaning whereas the plot is the core of events. Plot is what happens in the story. Theme is an idea revealed by the events of the plot. For instance, the theme of Gone with the Winds, a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, is ‘The impact of the Civil War on Southern Society’ and the plot is built on ‘the romantic conflict of a woman who loves a man representing the old order, and is love by another man, representing the new’. J.K. Rowling, the British novelist and well known writer of Harry Potter fantasy series, puts it, “I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write.” Concomitantly, Dorothea Lange, an influential documentary photographer and Photojournalist opines, “ Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.” Some suggestions are given below to develop themes: • • • • • • • • •
thoughts and speech of characters actions of characters contrasting societies or generations within a society identifying shared values and experiences between groups or generations ways to dealing with and coping with the environment symbolic use of landscape and nature repetition of ideas in different forms repeated symbols or cultural items contrast of values
One way to plan your writing is to establish a central theme, then consider how to develop it, and how to display its complexity and facets through different sub-themes. Ask yourself, “What do I 49
want to say?” Then ask yourself over and over, “What else do I have to say about that?” This constant meditation on a theme can yield a rich trove of ideas. To understand how themes are developed, read several short stories and novels that you really like. Research or some spade work is also important whether you want to write fiction or nonfiction. While reading, you should primarily look for facts to support your theme and other points supporting it. Such good reading and research further facilitates making of your characters, their surroundings and the environment in which they interact. Notice how the theme is introduced, and how it is developed. Also, do some exercises with free association. This process requires you to simply observe what thoughts, images, memories, people, events etc. come into your mind when you focus on an idea. For instance, let us say that you are thinking to write on the theme of personal responsibility. Rather than trying to consciously develop that theme at first, just jot down every image or word than comes into your head. Everybody will come up with a completely different and personal collection of items, for no two of us have lived the same life or experience it in the same way. The results of a free-association exercise like this can give you the seeds with which to ‘grow’ and express your theme. Some appropriate writing techniques are listed below: 1.
3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8.
Narration: This mode of writing is commonly used in stories told in the first person and in newspaper articles. Narration means to present facts and details in an organized, usually chronological fashion. Description: It is particularly powerful in fiction as a substitute for narration. For example, you do not say that a character was angry, rather you describe the character as having bulging eyes, flared nostrils, and a beet-red face, and use “thundered,” “shouted,” or “screamed” in place of “said” to describe the character’s voice. Classification: It is used more often in non-fiction. Classification is the grouping of similar things together. Illustration: Illustration means to explain a statement by using specific examples. Comparison and analogy: It can be used in both fiction and non-fiction. Comparison shows similarities between two or more things; whereas, analogy compares something familiar to something unfamiliar. Contrast: It shows the differences between two or more things. Symbolism. Symbolism is more common in fiction than non-fiction and requires the reader to be familiar with the symbols you use and their intended meaning. Cause and effect. Cause and effect shows why something happened or presents the consequences of an event. It is used less in fiction than in non-fiction, but cause and effect forms the backbone of many science fiction stories and murder mysteries
Structure of Writing
Structuring is the process by which you fashion a coherent set of ideas forming a text. Structure, etymologically means the relationship or organization of component parts of a work of art or literature. You may decide to write a piece of text using narrative or descriptive or expository or persuasive style. Nonetheless, arrangement of part, elements and constituents is certainly most important. Broadly speaking, a good structure is linear i.e. the creative ideas are presented in such an order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring means attending to a reader’s logic ! It is significant here to always remember that the focus of any piece of creative writing predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus, the structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you are making. The structure
of writing consists of — the introduction or opening, body or the main text and finally the conclusion. Opening Whatever you are writing— a poem, a story, an essay, a report, an article, a thesis, a journal, a literature review … — the first thing that a reader comes across is the introduction or opening. If the opening is boring, poorly written or constructed, vague or disorganized, it will not catch the attention of the reader. On the contrary, a concise, engaging, and well-written introduction will create your readers’ goodwill right from the beginning. Hence, it is the opening paragraph of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the overall quality of your work. This leads to the conceptual cognizance of the fact that it is important to get the opening of your text right. This means that as a creative writer, the first task is you should know is the 2W2H formula :(i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
what the introduction is supposed to do: what sorts of linguistic items must go into the introduction to secure the reader’s attention how to write and structure the introduction appropriately, and how to interest your reader from the start.
The second task can be accomplished by a carefully crafted thesis statement. State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it is important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Technically speaking, wearing a psychologist’s spectacles, it is not improper to mention that securing the reader’s interest is certainly more difficult than writing a thesis statement ! Further, a typical piece if creative writing contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. It is also important to note that introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts do not. Counter-argument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Therefore, an effective opening should: Ø Ø Ø Ø
Catch the reader’s attention, which can be done, for example, by using a direct announcement, a quotation, a question, a definition, an unusual comparison, or a controversial position; Introduce the topic of the essay, (in other words, inform the reader of and provide a context for the topic being discussed); Introduce the main idea (otherwise known as the thesis or claim) of the essay; Introduce the purpose of the essay (will it inform, argue, persuade, describe, narrate, classify, etc.?).
Body—An essay includes body paragraphs, which develop the main idea (thesis or claim) of the essay. An effective body paragraph should: Ø Ø Ø Ø
Explain, illustrate, discuss, or provide evidence to support the main idea (thesis or claim) of the essay; Discuss only one aspect of the main idea (whenever you move on to a new supporting point, start a new body paragraph); Work together with the other body paragraphs to support your essay’s main idea; Work together with the other body paragraphs to create a clear, cohesive paper (clarity and coherence can be achieved through the use of transitions).
Climax: A decisive moment of maximum intensity or is a major turning point in a plot, which brings events to a head and leading to the conclusion. Generally, professional writers use the element of surprise to inculcate climax. Conclusion—An essay ends with a brief conclusion, which brings the essay to a logical end. An effective conclusion should: Ø
Ø Ø Ø 5.6
Provide closure for the reader by reviewing main points (make sure that this review is brief – after all, these points have already been fully developed in the body paragraphs), linking the main idea of the essay to a larger issue, predicting an outcome related to the main idea, giving an opinion, or using a quotation that helps sum up an essential aspect of your main point; Remind readers of the primary focus of the essay, which can be done by restating the main idea in different words; Avoid introducing new ideas; Avoid apologies.
Let us Sum Ups
In this unit we have discussed the genesis and structure of idea, thought and theme. You have also been acquainted with the common obstacles generally faced by writers and given you suggestions regarding various strategies you need to employ as writers so that eventually you are able to establish a theme. Lastly we have given you an overview of the structure of writing. 5.7
Review Questions 1. What are some of the common obstacles generally faced by writers? Suggest your own ways and means to overcome them. 2. Explain the following strategies of a writer briefly: (i)
3. What do you understand by the theme of a creative piece of writing? 4. Explain the process of structuring a creative piece of writing. 5.8
Bibliography 1. 2. 3.
Corbett, E. P.J., & Connors, R.J. (1999). Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student (4th ed.). New York: Oxford. David Hume (1711–76). An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14. Peirce C.S. How to Make Our Ideas Clear – Popular Science Monthly 12 (January 1878), 286-302. ***********
Unit - 6 Humour and Satire Writing Structure 6.0 Objectives 6.1 Humour 6.2 Indian View on Humour 6.3 Humour Writings 6.4 How to Write Better Using Humor 6.5 Learning the Basics of Subtle Humor 6.6 Satire 6.7 Social and Psychological Functions of Satire 6.8 Contemporary Satire 6.9 How to Make an Attempt of Writing Satire 6.10 Satire in Literature 6.11 Other Forms of Satire 6.12 What You Should Know When Writing Satire 6.13 Let Us Sum Up 6.14 Review Questions 6.0
In this unit you shall learn the meaning of Houmour and Stire and also know about the nuances of this gene of writing. 6.1
Humour is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide musement. The term derives from the humoural medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours (Latin: humor, "body fluid"), control human health and emotion. People of all ages and cultures respond to humour. The majority of people are able to experie nce humour, i.e., to be amused, to laugh or smile at something funny, and thus they are considered to have a sense of humour. The hypothetical person lacking a sense of humour would likely find the behaviour induced by humour to be inexplicable, strange, or even irrational. Though ultimately decided by personal taste, the extent to which a person will find something humorous depends upon a host of variables, including geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, intelligence and context. For example, young children may favour slapstick, such as Punch and Judy puppet shows or cartoons such as Tom and Jerry. Satire may rely more on understanding the target of the humour and thus tends to appeal to more mature audiences. 53
Indian View on Humour
Some claim that humour cannot or should not be explained. Author E.B. White once said, "Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind." Arthur Schopenhauer lamented the misuse of the term "humour" (a German loanword from English) to mean any type of comedy. However, both "humour" and "comic" are often used when theorising about the subject. The connotations of "humour" as opposed to "comic" are said to be that of response versus stimulus. Additionally, "humour" was thought to include a combination of ridiculousness and wit in an individual; the paradigmatic case being Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff. The French were slow to adopt the term "humour"; in French, "humeur" and "humour" are still two different words, the former referring to a person's mood or to the archaic concept of the four humours. In ancient Sanskrit drama, Bharata Muni's Natya Shastra defined humour (hāsyam) as one of the nine nava rasas, or principle rasas (emotional responses), which can be inspired in the audience by bhavas, the imitations of emotions that the actors perform. Each rasa was associated with a specific bhavas portrayed on stage. In the case of humour, it was associated with mirth (hasya).We shall see how in Indian Humour is and was loved by general readers. If you aspire to become humourist writer you should surely read the following books of Indian Writers. The pioneer R. K. Laxman and his quips on the Indian society through the eyes of the common man make for the best satire. Horn OK Please – HOPping to Conclusions by Kartik Iyengar, is a fun-tastic read. It chronicles Kartik’s journey across the country with his friends. The book is hilarious. It has anecdotes from the journey and snippets of randomness that end up instigating brain waves to ponder on the reality around us. A great read -to treasure and cherish!Dork: The Incredible Adventures Of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese, by Sidin Vadukut, is a chronicle of a dork. Blunders, mishaps, and errors are a plenty. Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese becomes more of person than just a character. Absolutely hilarious read.Pyramid Of Virgin Dreams by Vipul Mittra is a brilliantly written satire that reveals the professional lives of IAS officers and the babus in government offices. The books gives a good insight to the world of babudom – the tongue-n-cheek incidents, the sarcasm, the power play by the ones in higher seats, and the ass-kissing agents (Joshi), are very smartly portrayed. Corporate Atyaachaar: The Comical Journey Of An Office Doormat by Abhay Nagarajan, tells the story of a twenty four year old financial advisor as he encounters many ‘non-financial’ experiences including a dancing dog which suffers from a memory loss, a revelation that a client enjoys hog body massages, a client who paints nude art for charity, a curious case of a ‘stubborn’ nipple and a house hunt for a missing musical mobile!May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss by Arnab Ray, GreatBong, is a sarcastic, politically incorrect and totally irreverent look at assorted random stuff including Bollywood C-grade revenge masalas, ribald songs of the people, movie punching, fake educational institutes, stubborn bathroom flushes, unreal reality shows, the benefits of corruption, opulent weddings, brains in toaster ovens, seedy theatres and pompous non-resident Indians.The Mad, Mad World Of Cricket by Sudhir Dhar, captures the funny side of Cricket. All illustrations depicting the witty style of the artist, take a dig at the state of the country when the Cricket season is in full bloom!Who can ever forget P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories? The renowned English humorist is best known for the eccentric characters and humorous plots making his readers laugh at every single opportunity.Oh! and one of my personal favorites isBill Watterson‘s Calvin and Hobbes collection. Stupendous.It sure is a difficult task to make someone smile. But it ain’t impossible
In primitive days, nations settled their disputes only through wars. In feudal times, gentlemen settled all their quarrels with gun duels as if bullets could decide the justice or otherwise of things. In all dictatorships the army and suppression are of critical importance to the survival of the regime. Modern man tries to settle differences through the more civilised ways of diplomacy and dialogue. In his arsenal of non-lethal weapons humour occupies the prime place in negotiating potholes in both 54
the public domain and private lives. For the civilised man a sense of proportion of things and a razorsharp intellect replace the savage’s fist of fury. Perhaps like our shrinking integrity in public life, our sense of humour is taking a beating and intolerance is becoming pervasive and shooting up by the day. Like the paradoxical common sense it is becoming rare to find. Humour is a bulletless gun, an anger dousing foam, a tension reliever, a face-saving shield, a survival tool in the face of grim oppression, a social friction lubricant, a pin to prick bloated egos. So it is heartily loathed and outlawed by dictators who ban all cartoons. But it is the refuge of the underdog, and the unfailing weapon of debaters. It is the essence of the democratic spirit. Autocrats dread and proscribe it since they cannot silence ideas with bullets. Great men and women possessed it in abundance. They never attempted to cage or muzzle it. Wise kings of old kept court fools who had the freedom to jest about imperial follies. We see a number of such ‘wise fools’ in Shakespearean plays. Even in the circus we have clowns who ape the artists clumsily, arousing peals of laughter, thereby relieving the tension of the high-strung trapeze artists. Winston Churchill, who successfully led England through two world wars, was an exceptionally witty man. Once a society lady insulted him saying if he were her husband she would poison him. He coolly quipped that if she were his wife he would drink it. Another time dramatist Bernard Shaw attempted the snob game with him saying. “I invite you to the first performance of my play and bring a friend … if you have one.” Pat came his blistering reply: “Impossible to be present for the first performance. Will attend the second … if there is one.” When Gandhiji was visiting King George in London he made no change in his sparse attire, with no shirt to his back. A palace officer condescendingly dropped a hint, “Mr. Gandhi, do you think you are sufficiently dressed for the occasion? “ On the instant came his unfazed reply. “His majesty has enough clothes for both of us”. Pomposity and petty jealousies can be seen even in religious circles. Once a hushed dispute arose among the close disciples of Jesus over who was the greatest among them. The wise master called a child and, placing it in the centre of their circle, said: “Unless you become like this little child, you will not enter the kingdom of God.” Their egos then shrank to healthy dimensions. John Paul II, while fighting communist oppression in Poland when he was a young bishop, was forbidden by the government from holding the annual traditional procession with the picture of the famous Black Madonna. He did not despair. He held the procession all the same with just the frame of the picture and the knowing huge crowd of devotees gallantly joined in. The bamboozled authorities were at their wits’ end at this out-of-the-box thinking coming from the unlikely quarter of a churchman. Once an emperor was visiting prisoners in a crowded jail and he asked each of them his life and crimes. All of them protested their innocence and blamed the government and the courts for their plight. One man alone confessed his crime honestly and had no complaints against the authorities. The emperor ordered his immediate release and told the rest that the presence of such a criminal would be undesirable among so many innocents. We can see this subtle irony in Shakespeare in the classic speech of Mark Antony after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Not even once did he speak disrespectfully of the chief conspirator Brutus but he rubbed in layers of irony with his repeated epithets of ‘honourable’ and ‘noble Brutus.’ When wit takes a back seat, then the powers that be order arrests and detentions. Great statesmen like
Nehru never objected to any cartoons and, in fact, looked forward to be amused by the great cartoons of R.K. Laxman. 6.4
How to Write Better Using Humor
A man walks into a bookstore. “Where’s the self-help section?” he asks the clerk. She shrugs and replies, “If I tell you, won’t that defeat the purpose?” —Anonymous Humor is an integral part of our everyday interactions, whether we’re trying to navigate a bookstore, make conversation with Chotu at our favorite coffee shop, or talk a police officer out of a ticket. Our inherent desire to laugh motivates us to share funny YouTube videos and respond to text messages with an LOL or the iconic smiley face. Many of us even choose to get our daily news with a heaping side order of comedy from outlets like “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” or The Onion. When push comes to punch, we’d rather laugh than lie face down, weeping into the carpet. You may think that when it comes to writing, humor is best used only in fiction or satire. But while we think of comedy in terms of exaggeration or fabrication, effective humor can be just as much about creative misdirection—engaging readers by taking them someplace they don’t expect to go—and subtly choosing metaphors and words that make readers giggle without even knowing why. And a smiling reader is one who’s paying attention and eager to read on. Sociologists, linguists and biologists say that our ability to laugh and desire to do so isn’t all fun and games, but actually serves two essential life functions: to bond with members of our “tribe,” and to lessen tension and anxiety. Both of these are also excellent reasons to incorporate humor in your nonfiction. As a communication tool, effective use of humor can humanize you, cementing your bond with readers. It can also help your work stand out in a crowded market. And as advertising studies have shown, humor enhances how much we like what we’re reading and how well we remember it afterward. Learning to effectively use humor can not only enhance your work, but can make the act of writing more enjoyable, too. Trying to find the funnier side of things reduces the loneliness, rejection and stress of the writing life—and it boosts your creativity by challenging you to approach your craft in new ways. Even if your subject is a serious one, the subtle use of humor can both ease tension and provide a respite from difficult moments. As Eric Idle once wisely said, “Levity is the opposite of gravity.” 6.5
Learning the Basics of Subtle Humor
Let’s be clear: The goal in adding some humor to your nonfiction project is not about becoming the next Erma Bombeck or David Sedaris (unless that’s your dream). The goal is to improve your writing by using all the tools available to you, including comedy. Whether or not you consider yourself a funny person, it’s not as difficult as you might think to put humor to work for you. The easiest and best ways of doing so boil down to five simple comedic tools. (i)
The Rule of Three
Writing comedically usually requires establishing a pattern (with the setup) and then misdirecting the reader (with the punch line). One simple way of doing this is to pair two like ideas in a list and then add a third, incongruent, idea. The reason we use a list of three, and not five or 27, is that three is the number of things we can most easily remember. Here’s an example of a sentence
using the Rule of Three: Losing weight is simple: Eat less, exercise more and pay NASA to let you live in an anti-gravity chamber. This is one of the most flexible ways to naturally incorporate humor into your narrative. It’s particularly useful in crafting catchy article , like this opening paragraph from Jean Chatzky’s “Interest Rates Are Going Up. Now What?” in More: Let me predict a few things that will happen in the next year. Brad and Angelina will add another baby to their brood. The day you spend $175 getting your hair done is the day it will rain. And the variable-interest rates—on your savings account, mortgage and credit card—will go up. Here she uses two amusing, less important ideas as the pattern and throws in her point at the end, as the “punch.” (ii)
The Comparison Joke
As writers, we’re comfortable with metaphors, so think of comparison jokes as simply metaphors chosen specifically for comedic effect. Here’s an example from the late Robert Schimmel’s memoir Cancer on $5 a Day* (*Chemo Not Included): … this stupid hospital gown is riding up my ass. I try to pull it down and it snaps right back up like a window shade. I cross my legs and suddenly I’m Sharon Stone. To craft a comparison joke, simply brainstorm metaphors and then choose the one that is funniest and makes the point well. For example, if you want to convey that quitting smoking is difficult, you might first mentally list things that are tough, such as reading without your glasses, flossing a cat’s teeth, getting a teen to tell you about his day, getting a cat to tell you about its day while flossing its teeth, etc. Then, simply choose the comparison that makes you laugh. In comedy writing, we’re always our first audience. (iii)
The Cliché Joke
If comedy relies on misdirection, what better way to achieve it than with a phrase your readers already know? If you write, “You can lead a horse to water …” every reader will assume you’re going to finish with “… but you can’t make him drink.” Taking the cliché elsewhere can be both attention-grabbing and amusing. Take the title of Sarah Snell Cooke’s Credit Union Times article about a credit union initiative dubbed THINK: “You Can Lead a Horse to Water But You Can’t Make Him THINK.” Don’t limit yourself to old idioms: Cliché jokes can work with any widely known catchphrase, title, lyric or piece of literature. Lyla Blake Ward’s book How to Succeed at Aging Without Really Dying, for example, is titled with a play on the well-known musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. You also don’t need to confine your creativity to just replacing a word or two. Taking a cliché and expanding upon it is another useful approach. For example, on Lauren Kessler’s companion blog to her latest book, My Teenage Werewolf, she writes: I will always, always have your back. That’s the one message above all other messages (even the I love you message) that I want Lizzie and my two sons to hear. … How do I manage to send that message and not simultaneously send this one: I am available, at your beck and call, 24/7. Don’t even think about what else I might have on my plate or who I am as a person in addition to being your mother. I have no life other than to serve you.
Funny Anecdotes and Stories
Most of the things we laugh at in real life are true stories, sometimes exaggerated for effect. In fact, experts say we laugh far more at these types of everyday happenings than at “jokes.” It makes sense, then, to use them to help illustrate your points as you write. When Your Money or Your Life authors Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wanted to demonstrate the importance of changing the way we think about money, they did so by telling the story of a young girl watching her mother prepare a ham to bake for dinner. As the mother cut both ends off the ham, the daughter asked why. Mom replied that her mother had always done it that way. When the daughter still insisted on knowing why, a quick call to grandma revealed the reason: “Because the pan was too small.” Putting It Into Practice Now you’ve got four basic comedic tools in your arsenal, and you’re ready to put them to use in your work. As with trying anything new, you don’t want to overdo it and come on too strong, but you don’t want to stifle your creativity, either. Here are five ways to effectively apply what you’ve learned to any kind of nonfiction work: 1.
BE STRATEGIC. Don’t scatter jokes willy-nilly; instead, think of humor as parenthetical information. Many nonfiction writers find the best places to integrate humor are in titles, sidebars, visual illustrations or cartoons, and anecdotes to illustrate their points. USE IT SPARINGLY. Unless you’re writing about an inherently funny topic, you should limit the humor you use to selective references. Its purpose is to grab the reader’s attention and help you make points in creative ways. Don’t confuse the reader by coming across as a comedian. KEEP YOUR FOCUS IN MIND. Be sure your use of humor doesn’t distract from or demean the true purpose of your project. Have someone read your manuscript and then give you a candid critique with this in mind. LET YOUR READERS KNOW YOU’RE LAUGHING. When using humor in writing about a difficult subject—your own illness, for example—your first responsibility is to give your readers permission to laugh. Find subtle ways to let them know that not only is it OK to laugh, but you want them to. STEER CLEAR OF SARCASM. This humor style may work in some arenas, but many readers find it hurtful and mean, and because it often relies on tone, it can be especially hard to pull off in writing. Sarcasm is a tool most of us pick up at a young age as a way of feeling better about ourselves by putting others down. We recommend leaving it there.
As writers, it’s up to us to use everything we can to make sure we lasso our readers and keep them in the corral. Don’t let fear of being funny on the page hold you back. An old saying is true: “If you can get them to open their mouths to laugh, you can get them to open their hearts to learn.” And that makes for effective writing. 6.6
Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon and as a tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society. A common feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. 58
Satire is nowadays found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, television shows, and media such as lyrics. Laughter is not an essential component of satire; in fact there are types of satire that are not meant to be "funny" at all. Conversely, not all humour, even on such topics as politics, religion or art is necessarily "satirical", even when it uses the satirical tools of irony, parody, and burlesque. Even light-hearted satire has a serious "after-taste": the organizers of the Ig Nobel Prize describe this as "first make people laugh, and then make them think". 6.7
Social and Psychological Functions of Satire
Satire and irony in some cases have been regarded as the most effective source to understand a society, the oldest form of social study. They provide the keenest insights into a group's collective psyche, reveal its deepest values and tastes, and the society's structures of power. Some authors have regarded satire as superior to non-comic and non-artistic disciplines like history or anthropology. In a prominent example from Ancient Greece, philosopher Plato, when asked by a friend for a book to understand Athenian society, referred him to the plays of Aristophanes. Historically, satire has satisfied the popular need to debunk and ridicule the leading figures in politics, economy, religion and other prominent realms of power. Satires confront public discourse and the collective imaginary, playing as a public opinion counterweight to power (being political, economic, religious, symbolic, or otherwise), challenging leaders and authorities. For instance, it forces administrations to clarify, amend or establish their policies. Satire job is to expose problems and contradictions, and it's not obligated to solve them. For its nature and social role, satire has enjoyed in many societies a special freedom license to mock prominent individuals and institutions. The satiric impulse, and its ritualized expressions, carry out the function of resolving social tension. Institutions like the ritual clowns, by giving expression to the antisocial tendencies, represent a safety valve which reestablishes equilibrium and health in the collective imaginary, which are jeopardized by the repressive aspects of society. The state of political satire in a given society reflects the intolerance or intolerance that characterizes it, and the state of civil liberties and human rights. Under totalitarian regimes any criticism of a political system, and especially satire, is suppressed. A typical example is the Soviet Union where the dissidents, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov were under strong pressure from the government. While satire of everyday life in the USSR was allowed, the most prominent satirist being Arkady Raikin, political satire existed in the form of anecdotes that made fun of Soviet political leaders, especially Brezhnev, famous for his narrow-mindness and love for awards and decorations. 6.8
Contemporary popular usage of the term "satire" is often very imprecise. While satire often uses caricature and parody, by no means are all uses of these or other humorous devices, satiric. Satire is used on many UK television programmes, particularly popular panel shows and quiz shows such as Mock the Week (2005) and Have I Got News for You (1990-ongoing). Similarly it is found on radio quiz shows such as The News Quiz (1977-ongoing) and The Now Show (1998ongoing). The television program South Park (1997) relies almost exclusively on satire to address issues in American culture, with episodes addressing anti-Semitism, militant atheism, homophobia, environmentalism, corporate culture, political correctness and anti-Catholicism, among many other issues. 59
Australian Chris Lilley produces comedy art in the style of mockumentaries (We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys) and his work is often described as complex social satire. American culture is extremely welcoming of satire, with many citizens supporting popular television programs and social outlets. Stephen Colbert satirically impersonates an opinionated and self-righteous television commentator on his Comedy Central program in the United States. Stephen Colbert’s television program, The Colbert Report (2005), is instructive in the methods of contemporary American satire. Colbert's character is an opinionated and self-righteous commentator who, in his TV interviews, interrupts people, points and wags his finger at them, and "unwittingly" uses a number of logical fallacies. In doing so, he demonstrates the principle of modern American political satire: the ridicule of the actions of politicians and other public figures by taking all their statements and purported beliefs to their furthest (supposedly) logical conclusion, thus revealing their perceived hypocrisy. Other political satire includes various political causes in the past, including the relatively successful Polish Beer-Lovers' Party and the joke political candidates Molly the Dog and Brian Miner. In the United Kingdom, a popular modern satirist is Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the internationally best-selling Discworld book series. One of the most well-known and controversial British satirists is Chris Morris, co-writer and director of Four Lions. In Canada, satire has become an important part of the comedy scene. Stephen Leacock was one of the best known early Canadian satirists, and in the early 20th century, he achieved fame by targeting the attitudes of small town life. In more recent years, Canada has had several prominent satirical television series and radio shows. Some, including CODCO, The Royal Canadian Air Farce, This Is That, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes deal directly with current news stories and political figures, while others, like History Bites present contemporary social satire in the context of events and figures in history. The Canadian organization Canada News Network provides commentary on contemporary news events that are primarily Canadian in nature. Canadian songwriter Nancy White uses music as the vehicle for her satire, and her comic folk songs are regularly played on CBC Radio. Cartoonists often use satire as well as straight humour. Al Capp's satirical comic strip Li'l Abner was censored in September 1947. The controversy, as reported in Time, centred around Capp's portrayal of the US Senate. Walt Kelly's Pogo was likewise censored in 1952 over his overt satire of Senator Joe McCarthy, caricatured in his comic strip as "Simple J. Malarky". Garry Trudeau, whose comic strip Doonesbury focuses on satire of the political system, and provides a trademark cynical view on national events. Trudeau exemplifies humour mixed with criticism. Recently, one of his gay characters lamented that because he was not legally married to his partner, he was deprived of the "exquisite agony" of experiencing a nasty and painful divorce like heterosexuals. This, of course, satirized the claim that gay unions would denigrate the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Like some literary predecessors, many recent television satires contain strong elements of parody and caricature; for instance, the popular animated series The Simpsons and South Park both parody modern family and social life by taking their assumptions to the extreme; both have led to the creation of similar series. As well as the purely humorous effect of this sort of thing, they often strongly criticise various phenomena in politics, economic life, religion and many other aspects of society, and thus qualify as satirical. Due to their animated nature, these shows can easily use images of public figures and generally have greater freedom to do so than conventional shows using live actors. 60
Fake News is also a very popular form of contemporary satire, appearing in as wide an array of formats as the news media itself: print (e.g. The Onion, Canada News Network, Private Eye), radio (e.g. On the Hour), television (e.g. The Day Today, The Daily Show, Brass Eye) and the web (e.g. Mindry.in, Scunt News, Faking News, El Koshary Today, The Giant Napkin, Unconfirmed Sources and The Onion's website). Another internet-driven form of satire is to lampoon bad internet performers. An example of this is the Internet meme character Miranda Sings. In an interview with Wikinews, Sean Mills, President of The Onion, said angry letters about their news parody always carried the same message. "It’s whatever affects that person", said Mills. "So it’s like, 'I love it when you make a joke about murder or rape, but if you talk about cancer, well my brother has cancer and that’s not funny to me.' Or someone else can say, 'Cancer’s hilarious, but don’t talk about rape because my cousin got raped.' Those are rather extreme examples, but if it affects somebody personally, they tend to be more sensitive about it." Zhou Libo, a comedian from Shanghai, is the most popular satirist in China. His humour interests middle-class people and has sold out shows ever since his rise to fame. Primarily a theater performer, Zhou said his work is never scripted, allowing him to improvise jokes about recent events. He often mocks political figures he supports. 6.9
How to Make an Attempt of Writing Satire
Some of the following guides may help focus your mind on the task of writing satire. Some of these points are painfully obvious upon reading them but they may nonetheless help you: 1.
Choose your subject wisely
No matter who your audience is, they need to have heard of the person you're talking about or the event you are describing. It's tempting when you have a particular interest to focus on that...but does your audience care to the same level? You may find it personally pleasing to write your story but you may also find it far more pleasing to know that you've shared your work with the optimum number of people! However, it is also my opinion that too many people fall into the trap of satirising very popular celebrities or events, simply for the sake of it. If you do this, not only are you competing with many more people who are writing with the same subject in mind, but you also run the risk of your writing being impaired by a lesser personal interest in your subject matter. It is always tempting to write about a celebrity who's currently in the news, but please think about whether your idea really does interests you! 2.
Keep it simple
If your intention is to parody something or someone by substituting names (for example) then it must be absolutely clear who or what your intended target actually is! As obvious as this is, you must focus on your intended audience. Are they going to be able to understand what you're attempting to do with your writing? As with all writing, ensure that you're not over-complicating things in order to fulfill a personal agenda - some people like to use long words, I understand that, but please consider whether it actually enhances your material. 3.
Choose a good title
A headline or title is the second most important thing for grabbing your audience's attention. Remember, you will also sometimes have to win over a publisher and not just your audience. Spend a good amount of time thinking of your title - more so if it doesn't immediately spring to mind. Do not compromise your title just because it seems unimportant compared to your 2000 word article.
Do you have a good picture?
If a headline is the second most important thing, an interesting picture to accompany your writing is (in my opinion) the most important thing. As depressing as it may seem since all your work goes into writing your article, it is, naturally, all for nought if the audience skips past your work for someone else's, based solely on the fact that they had a small picture of a man stroking a tartan horse. However, be aware that since most publishers also understand this, it is likely that a picture will be provided (where necessary) if you cannot find a suitable image. 5.
Take your time & Pace yourself
Most satire writers I have come across are very deliberate, steady working people. It can be tempting to write quickly so as to appear prolific but it is almost always a false economy to do so. Whenever one writes it is obviously important to ensure that it is to the highest possible standard. So, in order to ensure a good standard, you must reread your work. Over and over. Then read it again! If your work doesn't undergo numerous rewrites then you either have the good fortune to be a perfect scribe...or you're going to offer up work that is substandard to your own potential. 6.
Be aware that your work may get edited
Editors are there to make sure that the content in their magazine, book, newspaper or website, best represents themselves as well as you. By publishing your work they are already saying that you are worthy - by editing it they are not intentionally making any statement about the quality of your work. Steps to remember while satire writing:If you don’t know what topic to pick for your satirical writing, here are some tips on picking one. •
• • • • •
You could write about yourself. Pick some funny habits or quirks you have and write away. Readers can often identify with your problems or reactions and that will be entertaining to them. You could also write about a person you know or someone famous. It’s even better if you know someone famous. Don’t act like a tabloid reporter; stick to general things, like the way they dress or things they have said. Politicians are great to satirize because they often make blunders in speeches. You might also consider major events that have recently happened. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. If you decide to write about unusual or weird facts, be sure and do your research and make sure the fact is true. Now that you have selected a topic, here are a few more satire writing tips: Your satire does not need to be vicious or obscene. It can be driving and sharp, but the best satire is literate. Another thing that works well is to appear to be serious while delivering satire, as it can be really funny. It is subtle, but effective, when at first glance it looks like you are actually reporting on a real event. Another trick is to take things farther than they have already gone. If there is a trend in a story, you could play it out to suggest what might happen down the line. Another funny tactic is to turn things around. This would be like advising someone to do the exact opposite of what they should do. This would be like in the Addams
Family movies and TV shows, where the house was dusted by spreading out actual dust and the children were told to play with their food. Editors will always have opinions on how to improve someone's work and whilst you may not agree with these opinions (assuming they have not drastically altered the meaning of your work), you must accept that their ultimate motivation is to enhance your work. Publishers will (hopefully!) know their audience best and therefore, for your sanity, you must accept that their intentions are only ever going to be to ensure that your story gets the maximum coverage it deserves. 6.10
Satire in Literature
Satire can be found in literature as well. Consider the following explanation about satire in Satire of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written shortly after the Civil War, in which slavery was one of the key issues. While Mark Twain's father had slaves throughout his childhood, Twain did not believe that slavery was right in anyway. Through the character of Jim, and the major moral dilemma that followed Huck throughout the novel, Twain mocks slavery and makes a strong statement about the way people treated slaves. Miss Watson is revered as a good Christian woman, who had strong values, but she is a slave owner in the story. She owns a slave called Jim, who runs away upon hearing that Miss Watson might sell him to New Orleans. 6.11
Other Forms of Satire Satire examples can also be found in the following examples of irony, parody, and sarcasm.
Irony In irony, words are used to show the opposite of the actual meaning. The three kinds of irony are: • • •
Verbal irony - where what you mean to say is different from the words you use Situational irony - compares what is expected to happen with what actually does happen Dramatic irony - uses a narrative to give the audience more information about the story than the character knows
In irony, the words are used to show the opposite of the actual meaning. With verbal irony, you say one thing and mean another. Situational irony occurs when what actually happens is not what was expected. When a narrative is used in a drama to give the audience more information, then that can supply dramatic irony. A great example of irony comes from the plot of the movie The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Dorothy searches for the wizard so she can get home only to find she could have done it herself. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman had desires for things and found out they actually had them. The Lion thought he was a coward, but discovered he had courage. Finally, the Wizard was thought to be powerful and magical, turned out to be an average man. A great example of irony in literature comes from The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. It is a story of two people, much in love, who are very poor and want to give a Christmas gift to one another. She is very proud of her long, beautiful hair and he is equally proud of his pocket watch. The irony comes in to play when she cuts and sells her hair to buy him a chain for his watch, and he sells the watch to buy her combs for her hair.
Parody A parody is also called a spoof, and is used to make fun or mock someone or something by imitating them in a funny or satirical way. Parody is found in literature, movies, and song. Now a days often many songs are sung with twisted themes etc. Sarcasm Sarcasm is a sharp or cutting statement like a taunt or jibe, meant to really drive a point home. It can be meant to give pain and can include irony. On the other hand, sometimes you can make a point and still be funny. Here are some examples of sarcasm that are humorous, but still get their meaning across. • • • •
Paul Newman said, “It's always darkest before it turns absolutely pitch black.” Steven Bishop remarked, “It's a catastrophic success” and “I feel so miserable without you, it's almost like having you here.” Oscar Wilde wrote, “I am not young enough to know everything.” Groucho Marx used many sarcastic one-liners in his comedy. Here are a few:
“I didn't like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions - the curtain was up.” “I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.” Satire covers many different methods including irony, sarcasm, burlesque, parody, exaggeration, juxtaposition and double entendres. 6.12
What You Should Know When Writing Satire
Know what you want to accomplish: Despite what some writers may claim, good satire is always written with a specific goal in mind. In order for your satire to be successful, you must be able to identify what particular problem or shortcoming you would like to see changed before you start writing. This specific goal may change as you write and discover knew information, but nevertheless there must be a goal in mind before the writing begins. •
Know your audience: A general description of the type of people that are going to be reading your work is an extremely important aspect of successful satire. Obviously, what an audience of widowed retirees thinks is funny is going to differ from what an audience of rowdy young college students considers humorous. The differences do not have to be so exaggerated, either. For example, material that married couples consider funny can differ from what makes single people laugh. You must write your satire according to these differences in order for the material to be successful. As the saying goes, "the customer is always right." This applies to writing satire as well. Your satire is only funny if the people who read it happen to think it is.
Know the limits of good taste: This is a problem encountered far too frequently in the world of satire. Satire that crosses the line of good taste is not simply bad writing, it is an object that can actually cause damage. Of course, these cartoons were pictures, not writing, but the point remains the same - do not cross the line of bad taste when creating satire. The line that separates good taste from bad taste can often be difficult to see. In such situations, it is better to write conservatively, to ensure that the line is not unintentionally crossed.
Let us Sum Ups
Homour and Satire can be a very powerful tools for bringing about change. Well-written humour and satire can often create positive changes within society that couldn’t have been made with the use of guns or violence. But conversely, humour and satire can also bring about negative changes and cause a great deal of damage and even the loss of life. Therefore, please use both wisely while attempting to write. 6.14
What do you understand by humour and satire?
Mention some of the satirical anecdotes of some great men or women.
Write a note on Social and Psychological Functions of Satire.
What points will you focus on while writing a satire? ***********
Unit - 7 Travel Writing Structure 7.0 Objectives 7.1 Introduction 7.2 Travel Writing : A Historical Perspective 7.3 Travel Writing in the Present Times 7.4 Components needed for Travel Writing 7.5 Travel Literature in Criticism 7.6 Prerequisites of Writing 7.7 Summering Up 7.8 Self Assessment Questions 7.9 Let us Sum Ups 7.10 Review Questions 7.0
This unit shall deal with the basic facts about Travel Writing and by the end of the Unit you shall be able to plan your travel writing successfully. Remember there are various methods and approaches which you have to keep in mind while undertaking travel writing. If you have a historical background about travel writing you can appropriately choose your area of Travel Writing. 7.1
In the earlier units you have understood what are the different types of Creative Writings like memories, letters, autobiographical writing along with biographies, Humour Writing etc. and how different they are from each other. How to create an idea, thought and theme for your Writing. In this unit we shall read about ‘Travel Writing’, which has recently taken up as a new genre of writing. Today this genre is catching up as a new art of writing. People are exploring new avenues and areas of the earth by air, water and deep down within the earth. The experiences and detailed sketches of their surroundings are penned down for others to read and experience. This unit shall give you how you too can be a travel writer and what qualities and approaches need to be taken into account while transforming yourself as a writer. 7.2
Travel Writing : A Historical Perspective
Early examples of travel literature include ‘Ramayana’and ‘Mahabharth’, both of which recorded the travel of Ram and Pandaya across the unknown terrains of the earth for their survival. Travelling has always been a basic human urge. It can be for survival, for adventure, for exploration or for an official on personal project. Travelers sometimes feel to share their experiences and with vigilance methodolocally record their observations, experiences and throw light on the history, legends, myths associated with the places. Not only our Indian history, but the world has a number of ancient and medieval travel literatures. 66
If you are a student of English literature, you must have definitely studied ‘Homer’s Odyssens Dante’s Divine Comedy, Jonathan Swift’ Gulliver’s travels, Voltaire’s Candide and W. Somerset Mangham’s a Chinese Screen. As a student of social sciences one comes across the travel account of Chinese Pilgrime, Fa Hier and Hwien Sang, and French travelers like Tavenier and Bernier who have documented important records of Indian religions and traditions, political scenario at that time and social culture history of that period. General J. M. Todd has given a beautiful account of Rajasthan in the British period. While reading the above books we generally find that the travel writings serve many purpose : they reflect the contemporary period and give us reasonable account of the areas explored by them. It is through their travel writings we have been able to comprehend the different cultures which existed in the world. The experiences and the styles of writing may differ but it is the perspective in which they differ. If you like to travel a lot, you will readily agree that travel broadens the mind and perspectives, and the knowledge of distant places and the people. The academicians working and writing on history, geography, literature, plotography, anthropology have taken travel writing every seriously through they have produced interdisciplinary dimensions to travel writing but nevertheless they give a glimpse of whatever perception of life they had or have. Budding writers should explore whatever travel writings they can get. Like Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003) brought Bangladesh to the forefront on the world map. In this beautiful novel, set in London and Bangladesh, the trials and tribulations of its multi – dimensional characters bring out the complixity of both Bangladeshi culture and human nature. Shane (2007) by Jasvinder Sanghere is the true story of one woman’s struggle to break away from Asian tradition and live her life in the U.K. The book gives us a kelioscopic view of Asian culture and immigration to the West. Do you know what compelled Christopher Columbus to take a voyage to America in 1492? He had heard numerous stories about India and read the books written by Mandeville’s Travel and Marco Polo’s Travel to Cathay (China). Another example where we can see an impact on writers to pen down their travels was Thomas Moore’s Utopia (1516) wherein the fictional travellor, Raphael Hythloday is depicted to have journeyed with Ameriago Vespucci to the New World. Defoe’s A Tour throughout the whole island of Greet Britain (1726) beautifully canvasses a picture of the British Kingdom. Peter Hulme, one of the editors of the Cambridge companion to Travel writing, tells that the last significant shift in travel writing can be dated to the late 1970’s. Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) was the first work of contemporary criticism to take travel writing as a major part of its corpus. Travel and nature writing merge in many of the works of Sally Carrighar, Inan T. Sanderson and Gerald Durrell. Charles Darwin wrote his famous account of the journey of HMS Beagle at the intersection of science, nature history and travel. Literary travel writing also occur when an author, famous in another field, travels and writes about one’s experiences. Examples of such writers are Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Mary Wollstonecraft, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hilaire Belloc, D. H. Lawrence, Rebecca West and John Steinbeck. In the above paragraphs, you could comprehend a historical perspective of Travel Writing. You are now able to distinguish how Travel Writing was first recognised as a separate stream of
writing, but it sometimes interacts with other forms of writing. It can be a diary writing, autobiography letters, essays etc. The travel records on writings is a complex exchange between the traveller, the place and its people. Perceptions differ by pre-conceived notions and ideas. 7.3
Travel Writing in the Present Times
Travel literature on writing is literary recording of the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or manor or itimerary. These writings can be cross-cultural on transnational in focus. But today Travel Writing is a genre that has as its focus, accounts of real or even imaginary places. The genre encompasses a number of styles that may range from the documents to the evocative, from literary to journey and from the humorous to the serious Literary Travel Writings generally exhibit coherent narrative on aesthetic beyond the logging of dates and events as found travel journals or diaries. Burton Holmes was an American traveler, photographer and film maker, who coined the term ‘travelogue’. Before this word was coined travel stories, slide shows, guide notes etc. were there in existence but he was the first person to put all of these elements together into documentary travel lectures. The American’s, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and William Least Heat Moon, Paul Theroux, Welsh author Jan Marris and Englishman Eric Neweby are widely acclaimed as travel writers although Marris is also a historian and Theroux a novelist. Today fictional travelogues make up a large proportion of travel literature. They are writings on factual journeys and their experiences about women in highly fantastic imaginative stories. Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ and ‘The Dharma Bums’ are fictionalized accounts of his travels across the United States during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. One contemporary example of a real life journey transformed into a work of fiction is travel writer Kira Salak’s novel : The White Marry; which takes place in Papua, New Guirea and the Congo and is largely based on her own experiences in those countries. The tradition of travel writing can be called a way of somehow preserving a present and a past for posterity. Travel Writing is a unique way to view a place through the eyes and personal perceptions of the writer. It can be in the form of a travel article, documentary film. If you recall the joy of reading or watching the film on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’, the place which inspired Kipling to pen down his famous novel and produce one of his best works – and magically reproduced its sheer magnifiers serenity and columns in worlds is Kanha National Park in Central India on the forest of Kanha. Eminent field biologist, Dr. George Schaller, who is known for selecting the right places in the world for his studies choose Kanha to study India’s wildlife. He immortalized Kanha through his research culminating in ‘The Dear and the Tiger 1967), which has been considered the ‘Bible’ for field biologists around the world. ‘Cood Gray City of Love : 49 views of San Francisco’ by Gary Kaniya (2013) weaves personal story telling and regional history to create a granular and wide sweeping portrait of one of the world’s most fascinating cities. This eclectic and beautifully written book draws on everything from on-the ground reporting to obscure academic papers to the author’s 40 years life in San Francisco to create a rich and insightful portrait of one of the many magical corners of the world. ‘The Golden Shore : California’s love Affair with the Sea’ by David Helvary (2013) tells the tale of the history, culture and changing nature of California’s coasts. The author takes the reader on both a geographic and literary journey along with the 1,100 mile Pacific coastline. Part history, part travelogue, the author captures the spirit of the Californian coast, its mythic place in American 68
culture, and its role in a state whose ongoing natural disasters and its deep connection with an ever changing sea. Travel isn’t just about the destination is about the experiences. Now, the very best places to experience anything – from bungee jumping and French cooking classes to whitewater rafting and seeing the northern lights – are revealed and collected in the inspiring and definitive travel writing : the Best places for everything : The ultimate by Peter Greenbery (2012). We can now see travel literature often interacting with essay writing as in V. S. Naipaul’s ‘India : A wounded Civilization’, where a trip becomes the occasions for extended observations on a nation and people. This is similarly the case in Rebacca West’s world on Yugostavia, Black Lamb and Gery Falcon. The systematic study of travel literatures emerged as a legitimate field of scholarly inquiry in the mid-1990’s, with its own conferences, organization, journals, momographs, anthologies and encyclopedia. Among the most important, pre-1995 monographs are : ‘Abroad’ (1980) by Paul Fussell, an exploration of British interwar travel writing as escapism, ‘Gone Primitive : Modern Intellects, Savage Minds (1990) by Marianna Torgowick, an enquiry into privitivist presentation of foreign cultures; ‘Haunted Journey : Desire and Transgression in European Travel Writing (1991). The study of travel writing developed most extensively under the canopy of foucauldian criticism and also as read earlier by Edward Said’s postcolonial landmark study ‘Orientation’. If you wish to really take up travel writing you should also take deep interest in how this field has takes a quantum leap in literary study conferences are organized first such conference was organized on the theme ‘Snapshots from Abroad’ by Donald Ross at the university of Minnesota in 1997, which attracted over one hundred scholars. Books and journals published too have had unprecedented upswing along with monographs and anthologies. So its time to ponder how well you can write and get your works published too. The first issue of ‘Studies in Travel Writing’ was published in 1997, Tim Young is a drawing force behind it and still the journals are published and your articles can be published Today travel blogs are also coming up to support the travelers. Travel blogs are online travel journals sometimes known as travelogues. One of the web’s first online diaries which later become ‘blog’ was “A Hypertext Journal” (1996) by artists Karen Guthria and Nine Pape. Among the most popular current travel blogs are Nomadic Matt.com (http://www.mormodicmatt.com/), Bacon Is Magic.com (http://www.baconismagic.ca/), At390.com (http://www.at390.com), and Wanderlingearl.com (http://www.wanderingearl.com/). So by now you must have got an over view as to how travel writing has become an appreciable profession and helps in digging out our literary tastes which remain hidden from our own self and family. 7.4
Components needed for Travel Writing
Travel offers a distinct, if not unique, perspectives every individual who decides to soak up what is offered. The hypothetical mystic paves a blue road for the fanciful searchers of ‘meaning’ in signs of life while nature allows some to converse, others to click and for others, just a moment to take the chill pill. Have you ever questioned yourself, what is it that you like about natural landscapes or cities or town or rivers. It is the raw beauty, a feeling of freedom, or watching the growth or play of natural elements. Most probably, the answer is all of these. That is, you are connected to your surroundings with feelings and emotions like an umbilical cord. Now what techniques are required to be a travel writer. If one just visits a place, he/she cannot just come up with the factual records of his/her travel. They are records, to make a good article or travel book, first of all, it should be readable and lively. It should arouse the interest and curiosity of the reader. There should be style of narration which keeps the reader around and sustain it till the end. Now let us broaden our outlook and equip ourselves as to how we can become a travel writer. You should first of all understand that your writing depends not just on your immediate 69
experiences but upon the entire range of your mind – all that you’ve ever been interested in, all the travelling you’ve ever done, your reading and discussions, your exposure to the various fields of knowledge, art, history and science, your visual perceptions and sensitivity, etc. All the above if summed up reflect you and your awareness about the subject you are going to write upon. 7.4.1 General Awareness When you wish to write on your travelling experiences, you should have certain qualities of honesty, truthfulness, an open mind, adjustability, keen observation, a capacity to talk and listen to people with an unbiased mind, capacity to record facts and statements methodically and have general awareness. You can write short articles which help you to share your information. For example read the excepts of Tom Alter’s article ‘Queen of the Hills’ a well-known film and theatre artist, a sport writers and columnist and a novelist: “Mussorie – Queen of the Hills – I was born there, and my being a still there – and yet each time I returns, I learn more about myself and Mussoorie – the Clock Tower in gone, stain like a tree – but Tehri Road still winds, and the pagdandis still waver, and the Doon Vally still lies down to rest at our feet each evening like a candle – it child and the trees still rise and rise, their branches like stages on life’s journey – friends still greet you, agelessly, on the Mullingar slope, and tea at Omir’s is still as hot as it was in the samose of our youth….” (Terrascope, Vol. – 3 issue 6 Nov 12 pg-8) Now the above passage tell us how the writer compares and conjures the image of Mussorie. We too construct visual image of the streets on pagdandis of the valley, sipping of tea at a corner, greet of local people and the gardens of the valley. You would, in this way, be quietly passing on your memories and association to the readers. Based on the contents of this article, you can see that to write an article it requires hand work. It is not enough to merely see a place or a person. The writer needs to spend a great deal of time on research and sometimes one has to interview experts on the subject – either academics, local persons, performers or craftsmen who have information and knowledge. First when you wish to write on your travel experience you should got down notes while you are on your travels, so as to make sure that you have all the information you need and is up to date and authentic. 7.4.2 Collection of Information Once you have conjured what kind of travel writing you are going to write an whom you wish to read, you have to plan to formalize the actual work needed before you start writing. You should first of all collect information about the place you wish to visit. When you think of the place and the information collected it often acts as a stimulus to speculation. They help to form an image in your mind, crate an area of interest and also helps in arising curiosity amongst readers. For example you wish to visit Mt. Abu, what you shall collect. You shall collect the long history, documented or architectural, and Nedic/Puranic, replete the article with charming anecdotes (memories) and references that make travel in many Indian cities quite fascinating. You shall short list suitable subjects which may arouse reader’s interest. Collect and look at a map of Rajasthan, see the connectivity and closeness, its accessibility and its surroundings, different brochures, leaflets etc. giving a fair outline of the area. Now when you make your itinerary, you should see that the information collected in no way mars your perspective. Information collected acts as a guide but you should keep an open mind. So 70
to be a travel writer it is essential to be prepared for anything, no pre-conceived notions and adaptable in any situation. 7.4.3 Observation and Sensitivity One of most essential qualities needed to be a travel writer is power of observation and sensitivity to the place and its people. You should have a knack of observing the surrounding, the life and culture of the people and place and the writer sometimes needs not only to travel to see but also to hear, and absorb while communicating with locals. While you are collecting information, you should be careful how to enquire, how to listen, how much to learn and how much information is required. All the information collected should have the feel and flavor of the place All the verbal input gathered should have accuracy and you marshaled notes are to be in correct line so that you can remember exactly when, where and what happened. 7.4.4 A blend of factual and Creative Writing Now when the travelling is over, your notebook full, your mind brimming with all that you’ve seen and heard and tasted, you might be able to sit right down and get on with the writing. Here, comes the style of writing. Style, in fact, is particularly important in travel writing because it is so easy to get carried away by just mere descriptions and poetic phrases’ which are often not very substantial in the end. Many people tend to think that as long as such writing sounds good, it must be good. But don’t forget your readers, way be they want more than factual collection of your experiences. “So, as a travel writer, you’ll have to use a blend of fact and creativity to make a place come alive to your readers. A good rule to follow is to always use very simple, and short straight sentences. Read the following passage and see how well – researched this piece of article is: “I am travelling down from Yadgiri, a small town is north Karnataka, towards Kanganahalli in Sannathi, a non-descript village on the banks of the river Bheeria. You will not find it on any map, let alone on a tourist map. However, my interest in the small hamlet is courtesy emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Dynasty, who left his mark here several centuries ago. It is believed that the king sent his son Mahindra and daughter Sanghanuta as his emissaries to spread Buddhism in this region. The remains of a Buddhist Stupa were excavated here by the Archaeological Survey of India almost two decades ago … The site turned out to be a treasure tone and the most priceless treasure belonged to Ashoka himself; and, that is the first piece of carrying that I see in Sannathi. I am excited as I see a broken portrait of a king with his queens gently pieced together. It lies at a distance from the main stupa under the shelter of a tree”. (Terrascape vol. 3 issue 6 Nov. 12 pg 52-53) So, if you want to hold the attention of your readers, you have to enliven the text with relevant personal observations, factual information and captivating strings of words. Your individual informal judgment and advice shall also benefit to attract reader’s curiosity. You should have a unique style, ability to explore different place and be research oriented with references to travel related subjects. 7.4.5 Images : Experiences before Clicking For most travel writers, it is a natural tendency to look for the popular and well-known subjects when it comes to photography. So, when we travel to a beach-side holiday destination, we aim our cameras at the colourful sun set over the sea. In a town known for its rich heritage, we are 71
likely to come back with photographs of famous monuments. The list can go on to subjects like waterfalls, mountain peaks, festivals celebrations etc. But have you thought about clicking an image that tells everything about the place with just one look? Such image may not be visually the most appealing or may be showcase the highlights of the place. But they immediately tell a viewer what the place is like and what to expect there. Such image can quickly tell the story of the place to your readers. Immersing one in the environs and experiencing it is an important aspect of travel writing. But the photographs clicked without getting wet in the experience of a place may be technically perfect, made in the best light and there may be nothing obviously wrong that can be pointed out in the outcome. Yet, they seem to miss the freshness and sense of being a part of the experience. So, image soaked in the experience helps you effectively reflect the deep feelings and emotions in your mind and being a sense of life to your writings. On many occasions, say a village high in the mountain or a small town littered with heritage sites, it is a matter of walking around the place and finding a good vantage point where the views summarise everything about the place. We can also look out for capturing an important aspect that showcase the significance of the place. For example, if you flook at an image of a flock of birds in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, what sort of summary shall you think of what to expect in the park. The national park is well-known for its (a) large number of bird population and (b) its marshy habitat. So while travelling, see that you book out for such images, which instantly qualifying the place besides capturing all the things beautiful that you may encounter. 7.5
The Literature of Travel 1700-1900
The phrase “literature of travel” suggests, in the first instance, books in which the personality and literary power of the writer count for more than his theme, books which need not treat of anything new, but merely of something sufficiently unusual to provide an interesting topic for a writer who, in any case, would be interesting. The travels described in such narratives need not be historical or intrinsically notable. Their value rather lies in this, that they provide a topic for literat ure. Their writers are known rather as authors than as travellers. But such books are, relatively, few. Most writers on travel are remembered as travellers rather than as authors, and the value of their works lies not so much in revealing the personality and literary power of the writer as in successfully describing his journeys and discoveries. “No one expects literature in a book of travel,” says Mary Kingsley. Countless printed pages record the travels and discoveries of two centuries. So we must recognise that the literature of travel and the written records of travel are not the same thing. Any general definition would be difficult, since every work must be judged by its own merits, and the best books possess an individuality which refuses to be reduced to categories. Moreover, established repute must be taken into account: for any work which stands as the monument of a great achievement, apart from purely technical or scientific matter, has won a place in literature. Yet, in general, there are two qualifications. In the first place, one who writes about travel sho uld have something of the born traveller in him, something of the spirit of Tennyson’s Ulysses or Browning’s Waring. “Whatever we do, let us not sit still; there’s time enough for that when we lose the use of our legs.” So writes a notable traveller, now little read, E. D. Clarke; and, again, “The joy I feel in the prospect of visiting the countries within the Arctic is not to be expressed.” Secondly, the author must write in the same vein, so that the narrative shall itself reflect the spirit and passion of travel which possesses the writer. In a travel-book, viewed as literature, accuracy is no merit, unless the style and character of the work enjoin accuracy. Thus, in Dampier’s Journals or Cook’s Narrative or Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, since the very nature and purpose of these books stamp them as 72
faithful records, any flaw in accuracy would be a literary flaw. But, in reading Borrow’s Bible in Spain, one of the finest travel-books ever written, no one pauses to ask whether every page depicts actual occurrences exactly as they happened. For Borrow, catching the very spirit of the picaresque romance, gives a truer picture of Spain than any accurate description could offer. He views and depicts the country in the light of his own sympathetic genius. In books of discovery, since they are, in some sort, scientific histories, accuracy is demanded; yet, even in this kind, there are exceptions—for example, Bruce’s Travels in Abyssinia. Here, the veteran hero, telling his story years after the event, views through the magnifying haze of memory, illuminated by a picturesque and transparent personal vanity, the fantastic and exotic melodrama in which he had played a part. It matters little if his narrative was coloured by his dreams. He has painted for us the true Abyssinia as no one else could have done. William Dampier, sailor, logwood-cutter, buccaneer or pirate, privateer and explorer, may be regarded as the pioneer of modern travellers. At two-and-twenty, he became under-manager of a Jamaica estate; but soon wandered away to trade, to logwood-cutting in Yucatan and to buccaneering. For seven years (1679–86), he served under various pirate-captains along the Spanish Main and in the Pacific, and then spent five adventurous years (1686–91) wandering homewards from California by the East Indies and the Cape. After publishing narratives of his voyages, he was sent by the admiralty as commander of an exploring expedition to New Holland (Australia). His ship foundered “through perfect age” at Ascension on the homeward voyage. Dampier was afterwards tried by court-martial for cruelty to his lieutenant, was found guilty and declared unfit to command a king’s ship. However, he soon sailed in command of two privateers to the South sea (1703–7) upon a voyage diversified by mutinies, desertions and disruption. In 1708–11, Dampier served as pilot to the privateer Woodes Rogers. Dampier’s experiences as logwood-cutter and pirate supply the best part of his writings. This common seaman, serving before the mast in a pirate-ship, writes with a curious gentleness and sympathy and in vigorous, dignified, expressive prose. A born wanderer and observer, he describes with quaint and picturesque fidelity seas, coasts, people, plants and animals. His observations on peoples, customs and trade have a distinct historical value. 7.6
A travelogue is usually a single person’s account of a trip, journey or otherwise. We have numerous famous travelogues written by some of the European explorers. Marco Polo’s work stands as a good example of his journey to and his subsequent experience of China during the Mongol Ascendancy. Naturally the early travelogue would have been handwritten on either paper or in blank booksto chronicle the adventures of the traveler. Such writing is highly individualized, and is an experience of a journey seen through the eyes of the traveler. It can include virtually anything encountered on a trip: what a person ate, what a person saw, conversations, or notable features of a culture. A personal travelogue is most frequently written in first person. It’s not a bad idea to keep a travelogue, since it can later help you remember significant details of a trip. Your personal impressions might be for your eyes alone, but the trend in chronicling a trip is now toward sharing this information, via book publication, or more commonly on travel shows or the Internet. Some people keep a video journal instead of writing down their thoughts in a book. Others use laptops and cameras to record interesting aspects of a vacation or journey. They may then publish information about a trip in a travel blog on the Internet, or use their writings to
review some of the places they’ve seen and make recommendations to others who might visit the same places. 7.7
Fictional Travelogues can also be defined as nonfiction films that take place as their primary subject (Ruoff, 17). They often display the cinematic apparatus and have an open narration. Travelogues were usually about eighty minutes in length, consisting of two 1000-foot reels of 16mm film, with an intermission in-between to change reels. The travelogue film speaker, often but not always the filmmaker, would usually introduce each reel, ask for the lights to be dimmed and then narrate the film live from an onstage lectern. Travelogue series were usually offered during the winter months and were often sold on subscription basis in small and medium sized towns. Patrons could then meet the speaker in-person after the show. As cinema progress, the standard film program provided by the most theaters consisted of a feature-length film accompanied by a newsreel and at least one additional short subject, which might take the form of a travelogue, a comedy, a cartoon, or a film about a topical novelty subject matter (Ruoff, 178). Travelogues further developed to incorporate movie rides which were coordinated sounds, motion pictures and mechanical movement to simulate virtual travel (Ruoff, 42). Cinéorama, which simulates a ride in a hot air balloon and Mareorama, which simulates voyages of the sea, became major attractions at world fairs and expositions. (Ruoff, 42)Today's travelogues may be shown with either live or recorded voiceover narration, often with an in-sync audio soundtrack featuring music and location sound. The shows are often performed in school gymnasiums, civic auditoriums, senior center multi-purpose rooms, private clubs and theatrical venues. Travelogues have been a popular source of fundraising for local, non-profit community-service organizations, such as Kiwanis, Lions clubs and Rotary clubs, among others, with many such clubs hosting travelogue series for decades. Key Figures •
Burton Holmes was an American traveler, photographer and filmmaker, who coined the term "travelogue". Each summer for over fifty years Holmes would travel the world and then tour American auditoriums in the winter; during the 1945-46 season alone he gave 157 two-hour lectures. By the end of his life Holmes's had given over 8000 travelogue lectures which were known to draw large audiences in cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. (Travel Film Archive).
Andre De La Varre bought a motion picture camera and went to Europe at the age of 17. In 1924 he became Burton Holmes' cameraman. Starting in the 1930s De La Varre became an independent film maker making shorts for major Hollywood Studios. He traveled and filmed constantly for the next 40 years. (Travel Film Archive).
James A. Fitzpatrick has made 225 travelogues and traveled around the world 25 times in the process. In 1923, he formed Fitzpatrick Pictures and provided a stock set of images about the world at a time when hardly any international films were available to American audiences. (Ruoff, 13).
Carl Dudley made 300 travel adventure films. It all started in 1935 when he traveled to Tahiti, Australia and India working on film crews. In 1944 he started Dubley Pictures Corp. He is best known for Cinerama's South Seas Adventure. (Travel Film Archive).
Robert Flaherty was an American film maker who directed and produced the first commercial successful feature documentary, Nanook of the North, in 1922. (Ruoff, 127).
Eugene Castle was not a travel filmmaker but his company Castle Films was the largest distributor of films for the home and a contributing factor to the raise of popularity of travelogues. Castle went on to sell his company to Universal for $3 million in 1947. (Travel Film Archive).
Modern Day Travelogues are credited with helping cultivating the interest in the travel industry at the same time transportation infrastructure was being developed to make it possible. As railways and steamships became more accessible more people became willing and eager to travel to distant places because of what was displayed in the popular travelogues of the day. (Ruoff, 28)Today, travelogues are most often seen in IMAX Theaters and play a role in fiction film cinematography. IMAX was invented more than 40 years ago by Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroiter, and Robert Kerr who pioneered the technology and debuted it at the EXPO 67 in Montreal, Canada and later again at EXPO 70 in Osaka, Japan. Since then IMAX and travelogues have latched onto each other. (Ruoff, 238)In the 1970s and 1980s, the popularity of traditional travelogues declined. But the advent of cable television channels, such as the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel and the availability of small, high quality, digital video equipment has renewed the popularity of travel films. Amateur films of an individual's travels can be considered travelogues as well. (Ruoff, 157). 7.8
Travel Literature in Criticism
There are a great many books to read; there are many place to travel to. Travellers are often much better for advice --- where to go, where to avoid, what to know and what to do to get the most out of their trip. It is my humble opinion that works of literary criticism are the travel books of the written world --- sometimes guides (and it is, for instance, a rash traveller who visits vague places and narrate some without once going there), sometimes reportage, travelogues, impressions. This is, or can be, a worthwhile enterprise, but it does not sound like one which needs or would benefit from a vast and obscure body of theory, nor one whose successful practioners are likely to be able theorists. What, then, accounts for the current deluge of theory of criticism, as opposed to criticism proper (and as opposed to critical theory, a different beast altogether)? I have no idea, but I feel licensed by the subject matter to speculate as to the causes. 1. Disaffection. Mencken observed seventy or eighty years ago: "Every now and then, a sense of the futility of their daily endeavors falling suddenly upon them, the critics of Christendom turn to a somewhat sour and depressing consideration of the nature and objects of their own craft." This however merely backs things up one stage: why should critics feel that criticism is not enough, and practice it? Failing to practise criticism, why don't they give up and become actual novelists, poets, etc.? (Frank Lentricchia has finally taken this honorable course.) 2. Vicious cycle. Suppose that, for whatever reason, theory of criticism came to be prized more highly than criticism itself. Then it would be to the benefit of fledgling literary scholars to turn to theory, and to continue to place a high value upon it. (This last is important, since the study of literature, at least in the West, is close to self-governing.) Selection can take it from there, though that is not a guarantee that the result will be sustainable. Obvious query: why should theory be more valued than criticism? Second obvious query: what are the coefficients of selection? 3. Professional deformation. During this century, and especially since the Second World War, criticism, and literary culture generally, have migrated into academia in the most striking 75
way. The qualities needed by a good critic --- "intelligence, toleration, wide information, genuine hospitality to ideas," to keep with Mencken --- are hard to inculcate in a lecture or seminar, and make very poor dissertation material. But theory of criticism, however appalling (perhaps especially if appalling) can be lectured on and debated endlessly and published. (And cited. Criticism of, say, Milton, is unlikely to be cited by anyone but other Milton scholars; but theory of criticism can be cited by other theorists and by critics.) Because they no longer need appeal to any public other than themselves, the usual concentration of mutants and anomalies found in small, in-bred populations may be expected. 4. Physics Envy. Modesty forbids me to elaborate on this. 5. Spirit of the Age. It has sometimes been claimed that "we" are now much more selfconscious and reflexive than our predecessors. This would seem to fit with critics preferring to theorize about criticism to criticizing, but the exact relationship is obscure. Would the general increase in self-consciousness explain the shift to theory, or would the shift be part of what is meant by the general increase in self-consciousness? At some point I should use this space to record some thoughts about what a natural history of literature would look like, and how it would differ from hitherto-existing literary criticism; but really I should be working now, and you can probably figure out what I'd say from my contribution to the Valve's symposium on Moretti. At the same time, because I seem to have been unclear about this, I should emphasize that I don't think that sort of natural history is the only sort of literary scholarship, much less the only sort of literary criticism, worth pursuing. 7.9
Let Us Sum Up
To sum up, life is a journey said the philosopher. For you to become a travel writer, we hope you shall undertake or many memorable journeys all the throughout the year to various corners of India and the world. Travel writing has a new book today. This has given rise to various types of travel writings appearing in magazines, tourist books, novels, stories, articles and newspapers. The travel writer, therefore should have an open and well observative mind be informative and research oriented, harratively sound in style of writing and have supportive encellence to recreate the ambience of the place travelled. 7.10
Review Questions 1. 2. 3. 4.
What in the preparation required by a travel writer before he/she starts to write? What skills and qualities do the travel writer needs? How is ancient travel writing different from the present writings? What are the different types of travel articles currently published? ***********
Unit - 8 Writing for a Purpose Structure 8.0 Objectives 8.1 Introduction 8.2 A Creative Writer’s Purpose 8.3 Writing a Story 8.4 Writing a Novel 8.5 Writing a Blog or Weblog 8.6 Writing a Business Proposal 8.7 Let us Sum Ups 8.8 Review Questions 8.0
This unit will underline the significance of purpose in writing creatively. We have discussed the purpose of writing with reference to writing a story, a novel, a blog and a business proposal. 8.1
Introduction "Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree." - Ezra Pound
To achieve greatness in anything, there has to be a sense of purpose. Goethe said that ‘the purpose you impart is no longer your own.’ What a writer says, should have an aim, a legitimate and useful purpose to which he devotes his/her creative faculties unreserved. Defining success, Margaret Thatcher said, “ I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.” On the contrary to the aforesaid, people, generally write, either because they are required to or because they choose to write for their own reasons. For instance, a student writing an essay for a class may wish to please the teacher and to amuse his or her classmates. Unfortunately, what might amuse classmates, the teacher could find unacceptable. Hence, both required and self-chosen writing can be of many kinds. In either case, reflection on different purposes for writing can help one produce the most effective piece of writing. Besides, knowing that there is more than one person to please, a public "out there," is a motivation in itself to do well, to communicate clearly. 8.2
A Creative Writer’s Purpose
Writing, therefore, becomes pointed and well-defined if one has a purpose. As a creative writer, you certainly need to answer yourself “Why am I writing?” In addition, beyond this question, the feeling that there is an audience out there waiting breathlessly to read your work; brings you round to answer another questions “What am I trying to do with them? Am I trying to entertain them? — that is surely a lofty purpose: writing to lighten someone's spirits is not a project to be 77
undertaken lightly; Is my creative work a matter of self-expression or do I have opinions or feelings to share with others? Am I trying to persuade others? — you may have a view of things that is clearsighted, useful, and needs to be shared or that someone’s position is faulty, muddle-headed, or otherwise wrong! Am I trying to provide an exposition of facts or process or definition that others can take advantage of? Do I want my audience to read my work? — you may want them to act, filled with new energy because of what you have shared and told them; to persuade them of the rightness of a moral or ethical position. Therefore, the objectivity, mood, and earnestness of your prose/poetry will be determined by this attitude or sense of purpose. Without a purpose, any kind of writing is just a vague and fruitless congregation of words. Friedrich Nietzsche said, “To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.” It is also an interesting and an observable fact that shifting purposes create changes in strategies of writing by respective writers—in the stance they take, in the information they use or leave out, and in the processes they follow to complete the task. Writers write for many purposes. A few are enumerated below :— 1. To tell a story 2. To explain how to do something 3. To persuade someone to believe as they do 4. To describe an object, process or place 5. To express feelings Roman Jacobson, a noted Russian Formalist, a pioneer of structural analysis of language which dominated the first half of the twentieth century, gave a model of the communication situation which provides a good framework for classifying the varied purposes of writing. Adapted to written communication, writing can be seen as having six general types of purpose, each type of purpose focusing on one of the parts of the communication model: Sr.No
Focus of communication
One may write simply to express one's feelings, attitudes, ideas, and so on. This type of writing doesn't take the reader into consideration; instead, it focuses on the writer's feelings, experience, and needs. Expressive writing may take the form of poetry, journals, letters, and, especially free-writing.
Writing intended to arouse the reader's feelings is conative. It seeks to affect the reader. Persuasive writing is conative; so is writing intended to entertain the reader. Conative writing may take about any form, so long as its intention to persuade the reader or affect the reader emotionally.
Informative writing refers to something external to the writing itself, with the purpose of informing the reader. For instance, this page is informative. In present times, informative writing is usually prose, although in earlier periods poetry was used for informative purposes.
Poetic (or literary or stylistic) purposes focus on the message itself—on its language, on ‘the way’ the elements of language are used, on structure and pattern both on the level of phrase and of the overall composition. Poetic writing can be in prose as well as in verse. Fiction also has poetic purposes.
Phatic language (and nonverbal communication) establishes and maintains contacts between speakers or between writer and reader. In speaking, for instance, we may greet someone by saying, "How are you doing?" or How is it going?" These questions are not requests for information. They are intended to establish and maintain friendly contact. Phatic purposes are not significant in most writing. The use of greetings and closings in letters is one example of phatic purpose in writing.
Comments on a piece of writing are metalinguistic. If a writer attaches a note to an essay to explain why the essay is late, the note is metalinguistic in relation to the essay. An author's preface to a book is another example of metalinguistic purpose in writing.
It is noteworthy here to mention that many pieces of writing have more than one purpose. A poem may be intended to arouse the feeling of sadness in the reader (conative), express the poet's feelings (expressive), and use the language imaginatively and forcefully (poetic). Hence, when you write, define the purposes of your writing. Decide what your primary purpose is and subordinate the other purposes to it. If you have conflicting purposes, be aware of that, and try to resolve the conflict or exploit it to make the writing more intense.
Writing a Story
Technique and Content: Ø Narrative mode of writing Ø Point of View Ø Ideas Ø Setting Ø Plot Ø Characters Ø Speech Ø Action Ø Resolution ( www.kwiznet.com ) Writing stories means beginning as close to the conclusion as possible, and grabbing the reader in the very first moments. Conserve characters and scenes, typically by focusing on just one conflict. Drive towards a sudden, unexpected revelation. Drawing on real-life experiences, such as winning the big game, bouncing back after an illness or injury, or dealing with the death of a loved one, falling in love with someone, making a deal, finding answers to your quest, recording other’s experiences etc. are attractive choices. Remember! An effective short story does not simply record or express the author’s feelings, but generates feelings in the reader. Step 1. Visualize . . . Visualization comes first and foremost. Let’s take an example that you wish to write a story ‘The Ghost”. Visualize the protagonist (the main character) and other characters; their appearance, their personalities; how should they speak, act etc. Log everything on a notebook. To R. V. Cassill, notebooks are “incubators,” a place to begin with overheard conversation, expressive phrases, images, ideas, and interpretations on the world around you. Use this visual thinking as raw material for the story. Step 2. Create an Outline An outline will help you define the arc of your narrative—the beginning, development of plot and characters, the setting up of all the events leading to the big conflict or climax, and then the resolution and ending. Remember ! Begin should start with tension and immediacy. This will catch the reader’s attention. This is even more important with reference to short stories, which need to start close to their end. Further, it is certainly wise to keep a few characters in a story. For example: The Ghost – a wife -- a middle-aged woman, round, doughy and blinking through smudged glasses, pale countenance —evening time— husband -- coffee drinking bitter coffee from Styrofoam cups – evening time – ruminating – room – troubled – ghost haunting – another pretty woman – age-complexion-time-place-reason-problem – zen master – questions – solutions – application of suggested solutions – abrupt behavior of the ghost – desired result. 80
Configuring the outline, do not forget to combine setting with characterization and plot of the story. Step 3. Choose a Point of View Point of view is the narration of the story from the perspective of first, second, or third person. As a writer, you need to determine who is going to tell the story and how much information is available for the narrator to reveal in the short story. The narrator can be directly involved in the action subjectively, or the narrator might only report the action objectively. •
First Person. The story is told from the view of “I.” The narrator is either the protagonist and directly affected by unfolding events, or the narrator is a secondary character telling the story revolving around the protagonist. This is a good choice for beginning writers because it is the easiest to write. However, it limits reader’s connections to other characters in the short story.
Second Person. The story is told directly to “you”, with the reader as a participant in the action. It puts readers within the actual scene so that readers confront possibilities directly. Nonetheless, do not forget as a writer to place your characters “in a tangible environment” so you do not omit the details readers need for clarity.
Third Person. The story tells what “he”, “she,” or “it” does. The third-person narrator’s perspective can be limited (telling the story from one character’s viewpoint offering the intimacy of one character’s perceptions) or omniscient (where the narrator knows everything about all of the characters). Transitions are extremely important as you move from character to character using an omniscient narrator.
Step 4. Write Meaningful Dialogue Use short sentences for dialogues. Create pauses, so that the excitement of the reader and suspense arises. Crisp dialogues will give fluidity to expression whereas long dialogues will make the pace of exposition slow. Use direct speech for communication between characters and indirect speech while describing situation, events etc. Step 5. Construct the Plot Plot is how you set up the situation, where the turning points of the story are, and what the characters do at the end of the story. It reveals a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. The following elements of the story will help you for developing actions and their end results: •
Explosion or "Hook”: A thrilling, gripping, stirring event or problem that grabs the reader's attention right away.
Conflict. A character versus the internal self or an external something or someone.
Exposition. Background information required for seeing the characters in context.
Complication. One or more problems that keep a character from his/her intended goal.
Transition. Image, symbol, dialogue that joins paragraphs and scenes together.
Flashback. Remembering something that happened before the short story takes place. 81
Climax. When the rising action of the story reaches the peak.
Falling Action. Releasing the action of the story after the climax.
Resolution. When the internal or external conflict is resolve.
Example -- THE GHOST Raman had a very beautiful wife. Villagers called her ‘Devi’. Both of them lived happily in a house near the river Alaknanda. They saw many springs together. Once, Devi became very sick. On her deathbed, Devi said to Raman, "I love you so much! I don't want to leave you, and I don't want you to betray me. Promise that you will not see any other women once I die, or I will come back to haunt you." Raman agreed. The sun would rise and the sun would set. Poor Raman! He ruminated her death for several months and he did avoid other women. Everyday, he did the domestic chores, made his coffee, ploughed his fields, but when he returned home in the evening, he found himself very lonely and bitter. One day, he met a woman named Shiela. She had beautiful hair and smile. He fell in love with her immediately. On the night, they were engaged to be married, the ghost of his former wife, Devi appeared to him. She looked a middle-aged woman, round, doughy and blinking through smudged glasses with a pale countenance. She blamed him for not keeping the promise. Every night, thereafter, she returned to taunt him. The ghost would remind him of everything that transpired between him and his fiancee each day, even to the point of repeating, word for word, their conversations. Raman got very upset. He could neither eat nor sleep. He said, “My life is destroyed by Devi.” Desperate, he sought the advice of a Zen master who lived near the village. "This is a very clever ghost," the master said upon hearing his story. "It is!" replied Raman. "She remembers every detail of what I say and do. It knows everything!" The master smiled, "You should admire such a ghost ! I will tell you what to do the next time you see it." That night, the ghost returned. Raman responded just as the master had advised. "You are such a wise and beautiful ghost," said Raman. "You know that I can hide nothing from you. If you can answer me one question, I will break off the engagement and remain single for the rest of my life." "Ask your question," the ghost replied. Raman scooped up a handful of beans from a large bag on the floor, "Tell me exactly how many beans there are in my hand." At that moment, the ghost disappeared and never returned. 8.4
Writing a Novel
A novel is a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes. It generally has many characters. It can also have sub-plots (individual stories of a character or characters). Quite a few authors today publish novels that are much shorter than even Stephen King. Kevin Brooks, Elmore Leonard, Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Chitra Divakurni and Chetan Bhagat are examples of this. You need to follow step 1 to 5 of the story for writing a novel. Nonetheless, it has a bigger canvas and framework than a story. Technically speaking, a story ranges from 2500- 10,000 words whereas a novel has more word-count which can even go beyond 50000 words. Remember! To write a novel is to take a deep swim into your own head space, a really fun adventure, and one of the most thrillingly creative things a person can do. It is your world; you get to make it, populate it, cultivate it, and bring all of the pieces together. Just put on your thinking cap and make it a point to write everyday on the selected theme/topic. There is no magic formula for novel-writing. Every novel demands its own structure, its own pace, its own way of looking at the world. Here are some helpful tips to write a novel in addition to the five steps of writing a story: 82
Read classic novels because literary novels are works of art, complete with insightful themes, symbolism and literary devices.
There is a plenty of crossover between literary and commercial novels. You can select genres like science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, fantasies, romances, historical etc. and carve out your own predictable formula.
Think of the setting.
Do some research.
Read journals, magazines and update yourself with all sorts of information to motivate you.
Visualize plot, character and thematic content.
Make your characters look real and believable.
Listen to music if you have an ear for it. It will relax as well as inspire.
Avoid using too many clichés or stock phrases.
Prepare drafts. Send them to your friends. Invite comments from them before you decide to send them to a publisher.
Writing a Blog or Weblog
Today Information Technology has revolutionized our world. There are over 70 million blogs estimated on the World Wide Web (2007). It has established itself as mass media. Consequently, all mainstream media outlets have incorporated blog-like features on their websites. According to Reese et al. (2007), “The internet has increased the speed, reach, and comprehensiveness of journalism available to the public and lowered the cost of entry to anyone seeking to participate.” Blogging, in the present times, has been given special status in discourse surrounding amateur and professional journalism. Truth and Transparency are the two important guiding notions for professional journalists and bloggers. Bloggers possibly represent the first wide-spread public display of postmodern idealization of truth in its personal and multiple form. Transparency has also been institutionalized in the canons of professional journalists as the need to serve public interest in an open and accessible way. Hypertextuality, interactivity, and multimediality providing technological development have contributed in the emergence of successful blogging. Therefore, blogging today is a creative form of online journalism. Some useful tips about writing a blog:— 1. Use professional journalist’s content as a primary source. 2. This makes the bloggers become watchdogs of traditional watchdogs. 3. Ask yourself “ Who are the target readers?” 4. Be yourself ! What sets a bloggers apart from the newspaper article is his ‘Voice’. Let them know you and what to want to express. 5. Use images and links ! Images will stimulate your reader visually and linking 83
to other blogs or websites that contain information or linking posts will give them background and other relevant information. 6. Be positive ! You will certainly go a long way you your write positively, inspiringly and supportively to the community you are writing to. 7. Set realistic goals! You know your abilities and schedule better than anyone else. Do not attempt to post everyday if you cannot maintain it. You can start by posting weekly and then slowly catch pace. 8. Connect emotionally ! This will make your readers belong to you. They would want to read your post. Remember ! Do not overindulge. 9. Respond to reader’s comments ! Blogging connects you directly to your readers. You may choose not to respond to every comment. However, a simple gratitude will be practically wise. 10. Use first person ‘I’ and make use of references from your own experience. 11. Be descriptive ! Not prescriptive. For example, if you read a book, instead of saying that you thought that book was great, try explaining why you enjoyed it and what have you learned from it. 12. Do not write long paragraphs ! Be precise! Be short ! Make bullets and write short paragraphs. Make heads and sub-heads. 13. Concentrate on the First Paragraph ! Put all main points in it. This is the first thing readers see and it will make them want to read on. 14. Write correct English ! However, if you might have made an error or a mistake, do not correct immediately rather do it gradually. Give your writing a it the professional touch which it genuinely deserves. 8.6
Writing a Business Proposal
A business proposal is perhaps one of the most critical documents because you need to learn how to write it. Now-a-days, we have a very competitive and cut-throat business world. Whether one is a freelancer or one has a company of his/her own, one needs good vibrant business to be successful. Therefore, entrepreneurs find themselves spending hours upon hours submitting business proposals to potential clients but they may not get any potential results. On the other hand, there are those hit men that work like sharpshooters, who are able to get the contract with a single well-written business proposal. How do they do it? Well ! Undoubtedly, it is a good business proposal what spells the difference between success and failure. The winning proposal will be the one that best communicates a core message to its audience. What is a Business Proposal ? Before you embark to start writing a business proposal, you must first understand what it is and learn the basics. ‘A business proposal is a written document that offers a particular product or service to a potential buyer or client.’ Quite often, the terms “business proposal” and “business plan” are used interchangeably, giving the impression that they are one and the same. But they are not. A business proposal is created to offer a product or service to a buyer or client. On the other hand, a
business plan is a “formal statement of a set of business goals” and how these would be achieved. The latter is only part of what is included in a business proposal. Writing a business proposal means to be organized, become well researched and persuasive. There are generally two kinds of business proposals: a)
solicited business proposals (submitted in response to an advertisement published by the buyer or client) and
unsolicited proposals (submitted to potential buyers or clients even though they have not requested for one).
After determining whether the proposal is solicited or unsolicited, you then need to decide if they intend to include volume plans, schedule, and a delivery plan. It is important to note that there are a number of different components that make up a business proposal, which may differ according to industry or purpose. Consequently, many business professionals turn to sample business proposals for a number of benefits. One of the main advantages of utilizing a sample business proposal is that it offers a useful reference. You can also use online resources for obtaining standard business-templates of various types. A business proposal is made up of three sections:
Formula of 3 Ps Problem statement
Let us be familiar with these three Ps: Problem Statement -- A successful business proposal must be able to describe to the client what their needs are in a plain and simple manner. You should have done your spadework beforehand and thereby you must have a clear understand of the client’s business, industry and challenges. This is extremely vital ! How can you expect the client to believe that you can help them solve his problems if you do not even know what are his problems? You can prepare a questionnaire to facilitate you. Some hints to develop questions is given below : 1.
What kind/type of business do you have?
Can you list the current challenge your business is facing?
What are the challenges your industry at large is facing?
How did you first come across this business problem?
How long this problem has existed?
Have you done some efforts in the past to address this issue?
What are the outcomes?
What current information does your company have to solve this problem?
Does your firm have full access to the stakeholders who are involved in this project to ensure success?
Is your company looking for recommendations?
What kind of help do you think is required in the implementation of those recommendations?
Do you see any obstacles will be necessary to overcome for the purpose of implementing recommendations?
What is the best outcome you wish to achieve now with this project?
When do you want this project be completed?
Do you have a set budget for this project?
Proposed Solution -- The main objective of submitting a business proposal is to offer a solution to a problem faced by a prospective client. Most problems are complex and must be analyzed from a number of perspectives before solutions can be generated. However, by following a systematic approach to problem solving, entrepreneurs and their mentors can build a deeper understanding of specific business problems and find solutions that provide the biggest reward with the lowest risk. Create two vertical columns on a page. In the left column, list all the factors you can think of. Identify potential solutions that address most or all of the factors. In the right column of the page, write down potential solutions beside each factor to be addressed. Be creative! Remember ! This section of your business proposal is a tool specifically designed to present and sell your services with a focus on how effective you can deal with it. This part should be as detailed as possible, and able to address each and every need you have discovered. Plan-Cost Information -- Pricing is a critical marketing decision. The price you set for your goods and services is a key determinant in the final profit (or loss) that any business will make. For many clients, the pricing information is what will make them decide whether they would offer you the contract or not. The factors that affect your prices can be grouped under four headings-- Plan costs, (your) Marketing strategy, Controlled prices, Market conditions. The right price is often a combination of these factors. Besides, the nature of costs can be divided into three categories: Fixed Costs -- those costs that do not vary with the level of business activity. These are costs that you must pay irrespective of whether you make/ sell one unit or 1,000 units. Examples include rent, depreciation, lease costs, loan repayments and insurance. Variable Costs -- vary directly with the level of business activity or sales. Your variable costs are therefore much higher if you sell/make 1,000 extra units. Examples include the purchase of stock, raw material, manufacturing labour. Semi-variable Costs – these vary with the level of business activity but not in direct proportion. An example would be a telephone bill that would have a fixed component (i.e. rental charge) and a variable component (i.e. charge per call). If you business relied on telephone sales, a busy period would see an increase in your telephone bill but not in direct proportion to the increase in sales. 86
How to write this part greatly depends on the solution or previous segment. If the solution proposed will only entail a Summary will suffice. For longer projects, segment these payments Schedule list. You can make a grid of this plan cost to make it retrievable.
Format of a Business Proposal §
solutions you included in the short period of time, a Fee to specific milestones in a Fee more scientific, effective and
General and Language tips: Ø Do research ! Not all clients and buyers will give you the explicit details of their wants and needs, especially if you are submitting an unsolicited business proposal. Ø Extend your research ! Include the competitors of your potential client, and their customers as well. Ø Put yourself in their shoes and think ! Ø Ask yourself : Why should I pay this much amount ? What are the benefits? Ø Highlight your talents, experience and other qualifications to convince the client why they should choose you or your company. Ø Use simple and fluid language. Ø Beware of using a lingo that you are not familiar with. Ø Do not be ambiguous ! You do not want to take the chance of being misunderstood.
The Opening - Start by communicating your business’ mission and goals right off the bat. Consider telling a brief story about your business. People need to feel a sense of trust in who they choose to hire. The Pitch - This is where you briefly outline your proposal. Remember to include benefits that might be attractive to the client. You can, here, explain problems that the client is facing and how you can pitch in to solve it. Showcase – Back up your claims with credibility. Use data, history sheets, statistics, market surveys, testimonials, information grids, cost estimates of the plan etc. keeping in focus the problem, needs, and solutions you observed for your potential client. Closing – This is calling for action for your pitch to be effective. Set target; ask them to send an email or contact telephonically for any further discussion; be personal; add a sense of urgency.
Let us Sum Ups
In this unit we have discussed the purpose of creative writing with reference writing stories, novels, blog and business proposals. 8.8
Review Questions 1. 2. 3. 4.
Writing can be seen as having six general types of purpose. Discuss. How will you go about your purpose of writing a successful capturing short story. What additional endivours do you have to make for writing a successful novel? How can writing a blog or writing business proposal be creative? ***********
Unit - 9 Report Writing Structure 9.0 Objectives 9.1 Introduction 9.2 Stages in report writing 9.3 Terms of reference 9.4 Planning and Collecting information 9.5 Organizing information 9.6 Structuring your report 9.7 Style of writing 9.8 Layout 9.9
9.10 Redrafting and checking 9.11 Let Us Sum Up 9.12 Review Questions 9.0
Objectives By the end of this unit you should be able to: • • • • • • • •
Understand the purposes of a report Plan a report Understand the structure of a report Collect information for your report Organise your information Use an appropriate style of writing Present data effectively Understand how to lay out your information in an appropriate way
Introduction A report is a statement of the results of an investigation or of any matter on which definite information is required. (Oxford English Dictionary)
Reports are a highly structured form of writing often following conventions that have been laid down to produce a common format. Structure and convention in written reports stress the process by which the information was gathered as much as the information itself.
You may be asked to write different types of reports, depending upon the subject area which you have chosen. These could include laboratory reports, technical reports, reports of a work placement or industrial visit, reports of a field trip or field work. Reports vary in their purpose, but all of them will require a formal structure and careful planning, presenting the material in a logical manner using clear and concise language. The following section explores each stage in the development of your report, making recommendations for structure and technique. 9.2
Stages in report writing The following stages are involved in writing a report: • • • • • •
Clarifying your terms of reference Planning your work Collecting your information Organizing and structuring your information Writing the first draft Checking and re-drafting.
Terms of reference
The terms of reference of a report are a guiding statement used to define the scope of your investigation. You must be clear from the start what you are being asked to do. You will probably have been given an assignment but you may need to discuss this further to find out the precise subject and purpose of the report. Why have you been asked to write it ? Knowing your purpose will help you to communicate your information more clearly and will help you to be more selective when collecting your information. 9.4
Planning and Collecting Information
Careful planning will help you to write a clear, concise and effective report, giving adequate time to each of the developmental stages prior to submission. • • • • •
Consider the report as a whole Break down the task of writing the report into various parts. How much time do you have to write the report? How can this be divided up into the various planning stages? Set yourself deadlines for the various stages.
Draw up an outline structure for your report and set the work within a sensible time scale for completion by the given deadline. Some of the most time-consuming parts of the process are collecting and selecting your information, and checking and revising your report. There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself at this stage :• • • • •
What is the information you need ? Where do you find it ? How much do you need ? How shall you collect it ? In what order will you arrange it ?
You may have much of the information you need already such as results from a laboratory experiment or descriptions of your methods of data collection. However, there may be other material which is needed such as background information on other research studies, or literature surveys. You may need to carry out some interviews to collect all the information you need. • • 9.5
Make a list of what information you need. Make an action plan stating how you are going to gather this.
One helpful way of organising your information into topics is to brainstorm your ideas into a ‘spiderdiagram.’ • • • • • • 9.6
Write the main theme in the centre of a piece of paper. Write down all the ideas and keywords related to your topic starting from the centre and branching out along lines of connecting ideas. Each idea can be circled or linked by lines as appropriate. When you have finished, highlight any related ideas and then sort topics. Some ideas will form main headings, and others will be sub-sections under these headings. You should then be able to see a pattern emerging and be able to arrange your main headings in a logical order.
Structuring your report
We discussed earlier that there are different types of report such as laboratory reports or reports on an industrial placement. Always check with the person commissioning the report (your tutor, your placement supervisor) to find out precisely what your report should include and how it should be presented. The following common elements can be found in many different reports:Structu REPORT WRITING Reports 6 • • • • • • • • • • •
Title page Acknowledgements Contents Abstract or summary Introduction Methodology Results or findings Discussion Conclusion and recommendations References Appendices
We shall now look at each of these in turn. Title page This should include the title of the report (which should give a precise indication of the subject matter), the author’s name, module, course and the date. Acknowledgements 90
You should acknowledge any help you have received in collecting the information for the report. This may be from librarians, technicians or computer centre staff, for example.
Contents You should list all the main sections of the report in sequence with the page numbers they begin on. If there are charts, diagrams or tables included in your report, these should be listed separately under a title such as ‘List of Illustrations’ together with the page numbers on which they appear. Abstract or summary This should be a short paragraph summarising the main contents of the report. It should include a short statement of the main task, the methods used, conclusions reached and any recommendations to be made. The abstract or summary should be concise, informative and independent of the report. Write this section after you have written the report.Writing Reports 7 Introduction This should give the context and scope of the report and should include your terms of reference. State your objectives clearly, define the limits of the report, outline the method of enquiry, give a brief general background to the subject of the report and indicate the proposed development. Methodology In this section you should state how you carried out your enquiry. What form did your enquiry take ? Did you carry out interviews or questionnaires, how did you collect your data ? What measurements did you make ? How did you choose the subjects for your interviews ? Present this information logically and concisely. Results or findings Present your findings in as simple a way as possible. The more complicated the information looks, the more difficult it will be to interpret. There are a number of ways in which results can be presented. Here are a few : • • • • •
Tables Graphs Pie charts Bar charts Diagrams
Discussion This is the section where you can analyse and interpret your results drawing from the information which you have collected, explaining its significance. Identify important issues and suggest explanations for your findings. Outline any problems encountered and try and present a balanced view. Conclusions and recommendations 91
This is the section of the report which draws together the main issues. It should be expressed clearly and should not present any new information. You may wish to list your recommendations in separate section or include them with the conclusions. References It is important that you give precise details of all the work by other authors which has been referred to within the report. Details should include : • • • • • • •
author’s name and initials date of publication title of the book, paper or journal publisher place of publication page numbers details of the journal volume in which the article has appeared.
References should be listed in alphabetical order of the authors' names. Make sure that your references are accurate and comprehensive. Appendices An appendix contains additional information related to the report but which is not essential to the main findings. This can be consulted if the reader wishes but the report should not depend on this. You could include details of interview questions, statistical data, a glossary of terms, or other information which may be useful for the reader. 9.7
Style of writing There are several points that you will need to consider when you are writing your report:
Active or passive? The active voice reads as follows: ‘I recommend ...’ The passive voice reads: ‘It is recommended that ...’ The active voice allows you to write short, punchy sentences. The passive appears more formal and considered. Be aware of these differences and avoid mixing the two voices. Simplicity Most written reports should avoid using overly complicated language. If a report is to persuade, brief or justify, it's message must be clear. Furthermore, the factual presentation of data should not be swamped with sophisticated, lengthy sentences. Avoid using unnecessary jargon. This confuses even the most informed reader. Ensure that your abbreviations are standardised. All too often authors invent their own jargon to ease the pressure on writing things in full. Be cautious of confusing your reader. 92
Use of language Most reports should avoid the use of subjective language. For example, to report on a change in colouration from a "stunning green to a beautiful blue" is to project your own values onto a measurable outcome. What does the term "beautiful" mean to you? What will it mean to your reader? Such subjective, or personal language commonly has no place in the more objective field of report writing. 9.8
Most reports have a progressive numbering system. The most common system is the decimal notation system. The main sections are given single arabic numbers 1, 2, 3 and so on. Sub-sections are given a decimal number - 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on. Sub-sections can be further divided into - 1.11, 1.12, 1.13 and so on. An example structure would look as follows; 1. Introduction 1.1 ———————1.11 ———————1.2 ———————1.21 ———————2. Methodology 2.1 ———————2.11 ———————2.12 ———————9.9
Presentation The following suggestions will help you to produce an easily read report: • • • •
Leave wide margins for binding and feedback comments from your tutor. Paragraphs should be short and concise. Headings should be clear - highlighted in bold or underlined. All diagrams and illustrations should be labelled and numbered.
All standard units, measurements and technical terminology should be listed in a glossary of terms at the back of your report.
Redrafting and checking
Once you have written the first draft of your report you will need to check it through. It is probably sensible to leave it on your desk for a day or so if you have the time. This will make a clear break from the intensive writing period, allowing you to view your work more objectively. Assess your work in the following areas: Structure Content Style
• • •
Look at the clarity and precision of your work. 9.11
Let us Sum Ups
The skills involved in writing a report will help you to condense and focus information, drawing objective findings from detailed data. The ability to express yourself clearly and succinctly is an important skill and is one that can be greatly enhanced by approaching each report in a planned and focused way. 9.12
Review Questions 1 2 3 4 5
Why the paragraphs are short and concise? Why is it important to have a catchy heading of the report? Why report writing differs from person to person? Do you feel report writing is an art or just a factual narration? What is the most important part of report writing? ***********
Unit - 10 Book Review Structure 10.0 Objectives 10.1 Introduction 10.2 Prejudices in Book Reviewing 10.3 The Reviewer’s Task 10.4 Evaluative Judgement and Different Forms of Literary Writings 10.5 Reviewing essentials 10.6 A Sample Book Review 10.7 Let Us Sum Up 10.8 Review Questions 10.0
In this unit we shall discuss the art of Book Reviewing. We shall talk about the qualities desirable in a book reviewer along with his responsibilities, his role in practical terms and the various factors that contribute to a final evaluative judgment of a piece of writing. 10.1
Book reviewing is carried by almost every national newspaper and magazine as a significant part of its literary columns. Reviewing can be a very rewarding exercise. A book reviewer may take pride in the fact that he is a sort of custodian of certain literary norms- technical, cultural and moral. Since the art of book reviewing doesn’t need any elaborate training, one may learn it with just a little perseverance and guidance. The only thing is the reviewers have to address themselves to their task with a sense of responsibility which implies integrity. A reviewer with adequate motivation should be an avid reader of books. The normal length of a book review is 600-700 words. The limit is usually specified by each editor. Within the prescribed limit, a reviewer should be able to structure his material as judiciously as possible – a pointed opening statement, a skillfully developed argument and a well rounded conclusion. A review should be incisive and evaluator, written in a language that is lucid and forthright, not long winded and ambiguous. 10.2
Prejudices in Book Reviewing
A reviewer should never allow any kind of bias to condition his responses. Nor should he feel tempted to trumpet his own erudition at the expense of the author. Integrity i.e. unmitigated objectivity should be the hall mark of his review. One of the banes of book reviewing is prejudice. One frequently encounters all kinds of prejudices-personal, parochial and sexist. It is these prejudices that often vitiate a review. As a reviewer, therefore, you should overcome the temptation to assume any kind of partisan attitude.
10.2.1 Personal bias There are, for instance, reviewers to whom certain writers are just anathema; they would tear apart everything published by any of these writers. As Alexander Pope says in his ‘Essay on Criticism’: Some judge of authors’ names not works, and then Nor praise nor blame the writers but the men. This is obviously a form of dishonesty in reviewing which should never be allowed to taint one’s judgements. Besides, personal preferences, apart from other kinds of bias, can be observed in many reviews. These are sometimes obliquely woven into the main argument, or too overt to be ignored. 10.2.2 Parochial bias Most reviewers tend to be partisan. They lean heavily in favor of their own region, language, even caste. A Tamil reviewer is very likely to blow up a Tamilian writer’s work into hyperbolic dimensions or a Kashmiri reviewer to hold out a Kashmiri novelist as the precursor of all modern Indian fiction in English. Similarly an Assamese reviewer is likely to eulogize an Assamese writer beyond his legitimate due. It is, therefore, desirable that a reviewer should rise above all narrow provincial considerations. 10.2.3 Sexist bias Often the photograph of an attractive female author on the jacket works better with her reviewer than all the matte in her book. Besides, a woman reviewer may take an unduly sympathetic attitude towards a female novelist, poet or social commentator. This kind of prejudice operates as much on the level of general social behavior as on the plane of writing, creative or non creative. But in a dispassionate review, sex doesn’t intrude. The book’s intrinsic merit should be the only criterion. Nevertheless, an unbiased reviewer should not renounce poise, restraint or urbanity even while exposing the imbalances in the work. You may point out shortcomings in an author’s attitude, but it is advisable that your tone should never be violent. A good, honest review is invariably decorous and sophisticated. Moreover, your comments as a reviewer should be pointed, sensitive and illuminating, and not provocative merely for the sake of saying something clever. 10.3
The Reviewer’s Task
To be able to discharge the responsibility, a reviewer has to be not only knowledgeable but also widely acquainted with other books written on the subject. The reviewer is expected to bring out the distinctiveness of the book in question in order that the reader may assess whether it is worthwhile to buy it. Thus, the reviewer has a moral responsibility to the reader who spends time and money on it. The reviewer, indeed, should be as objective as possible in judging the contribution of the book to the literature on the subject. He has to judge: Was the book necessary? Does the book say anything new? Should the reader be advised to buy the book at the price? Was it, in the first place, necessary to write this book at all? Aren’t the books already available sufficient to meet the reader’s emotional, intellectual and leisure time requirements? Does the author project a new insight or provide information in the changing context of research findings and other events?
Evaluative Judgement and Different Forms of Literary Writings
The major genres in literature include fiction, poetry and drama. The reviewer has to keep in mind the distinctive features of the specific form while appraising a book of poems/stories/plays/other works. You have to note, however, that genres are not rigid categories and are by no means fixed. You have to be receptive to the innovations and changes in forms brought about by the individual genius of a writer under the impact of changing times and life styles. Let us consider some of the distinctive elements of fiction/non fiction, poetry and drama and discuss certain important aspects of evaluative judgement with reference to each. 10.4.1 Reviewing Fiction/Non Fiction Here are a few reviewing considerations with respect to fiction/non fiction: •
Rule number one: do not give away the story!
From what sources are the characters drawn?
What is the author's attitude toward his characters?
Are the characters flat or three dimensional?
Does character development occur?
Is character delineation direct or indirect?
What is/are the major theme(s)?
How are they revealed and developed?
Is the theme traditional and familiar, or new and original?
Is the theme didactic, psychological, social, entertaining, escapist, etc. in purpose or intent?
How are the various elements of plot (eg, introduction, suspense, climax, conclusion) handled?
What is the relationship of plot to character delineation?
To what extent, and how, is accident employed as a complicating and/or resolving force?
What are the elements of mystery and suspense?
What other devices of plot complication and resolution are employed?
Is there a sub-plot and how is it related to the main plot?
Is the plot primary or secondary to some of the other essential elements of the story (character, setting, style, etc.)? 97
What are the "intellectual qualities" of the writing (e.g., simplicity, clarity)?
What are the "emotional qualities" of the writing (e.g., humour, wit, satire)?
What are the "aesthetic qualities" of the writing (e.g., harmony, rhythm)?
What stylistic devices are employed (e.g., symbolism, motifs, parody, allegory)?
How effective is dialogue?
What is the setting and does it play a significant role in the work?
Is a sense of atmosphere evoked, and how?
What scenic effects are used and how important and effective are they?
Does the setting influence or impinge on the characters and/or plot?
Does the book give a "full-length" picture of the subject?
What phases of the subject's life receive greatest treatment and is this treatment justified?
What is the point of view of the author?
How is the subject matter organized: chronologically, retrospectively, etc.?
Is the treatment superficial or does the author show extensive study into the subject's life?
What source materials were used in the preparation of the biography?
Is the work documented?
Does the author attempt to get at the subject's hidden motives?
What important new facts about the subject's life are revealed in the book?
What is the relationship of the subject's career to contemporary history?
How does the biography compare with others about the same person?
How does it compare with other works by the same author?
With what particular period does the book deal?
How thorough is the treatment?
What were the sources used?
Is the account given in broad outline or in detail? 98
Is the style that of reportorial writing, or is there an effort at interpretive writing?
What is the point of view or thesis of the author?
Is the treatment superficial or profound?
For what group is the book intended (textbook, popular, scholarly, etc.)?
What part does biographical writing play in the book?
Is social history or political history emphasized?
Are dates used extensively, and if so, are they used intelligently?
Is the book a revision? How does it compare with earlier editions?
Are maps, illustrations, charts, etc. used and how are these to be evaluated?
10.4.2 Reviewing poetry Poetry is a compressed form of expression in which the particularity of the word and the image to evoke feeling assumes great importance. It achieves concentration and intensity with the economy of rich suggestion, the use of the inevitable word or image and the intimate fusion of sound and sense. Consider: •
Is this a work of power, originality, individuality?
What kind of poetry is under review (epic, lyrical, elegaic, etc.)?
What poetical devices have been used (rhyme, rhythm, figures of speech, imagery, etc.), and to what effect?
What is the central concern of the poem and is it effectively expressed?
10.4.3 Reviewing Drama Drama is a stage play having powerful audio visual appeal. Its major components include atmosphere, situation, action, emotion, character and dialogue. The form, too, has undergone modifications traceable to the innovative genius of the playwright working under the fast changing conditions of life. So you need to review a drama in the light of these aspects. 10.5
Reviewing essentials •
Description of the book. Sufficient description should be given so that the reader will have some understanding of the author's thoughts. This account is not a summary. It can be woven into the critical remarks.
Discuss the author. Biographical information should be relevant to the subject of the review and enhance the reader's understanding of the work under discussion.
Appraise the book. A review must be a considered judgment that includes: §
a statement of the reviewer's understanding of the author's purpose
how well the reviewer feels the author's purpose has been achieved
evidence to support the reviewer's judgement of the author' achievement.
While you read: •
Read the book with care.
Highlight quotable passages.
Note your impressions as you read.
Allow time to assimilate what you read so that the book can be seen in perspective.
Keep in mind the need for a single impression which must be clear to the reader.
The review outline A review outline gives you an over-all grasp of the organization of the review, to determine the central point your review will make, to eliminate inessentials or irrelevancies, and to fill in gaps or omissions. •
Examine the notes you have made and eliminate those with no relationship to your central thesis.
By organizing your discussion topics into groups, aspects of the book will emerge: e.g., theme, character, structure, etc.
Write down all the major headings of the outline and fill in the subdivisions.
All parts should support your thesis or central point.
First draft •
Opening paragraphs set the tone of the paper. Possible introductions usually make a statement about the: §
Topicality of the work or its significance
Comparison of the work to others by the same author or within the same genre
The body of the review logically develops your thesis. Follow your outline or adjust it to further your argument. The aim should be to push your central point. Put quoted material in quotation marks, or indented, and properly footnoted.
Concluding paragraph sums up or restates your thesis or it may make a final judgement regarding the book. Do not introduce new information or ideas in the conclusion.
Revising the draft •
Allow time to elapse, at least a day, before starting your revision.
Correct grammatical mistakes and punctuation as you find them.
Read your paper through again looking for unity, organization and logical development.
If necessary, do not hesitate to make major revisions in your draft.
Verify quotations for accuracy and check the format and content of references.
A Sample Book Review Book Review -- Five Point Someone Mr. Omprakash Asst. Professor [MCA]
Five Point Someone A Novel by Chetan Bhagat Published by Rupa & Company Pages 250 Price Rs. 95 My Ratting: A must read with 9 point some thing.
When I was in Chennai, to attend a workshop at Anna University, I found this book in a roadside book-lorry. I found the book so interesting and the characters so real that I forgot to have dinner and completed it within 7 hours at the same night. This novel narrates the story of three IIT graduates and their life at India's Premier Technology Institute. The story is all about their friendship and differences, study and enjoyment, career and ambition, parental pressure and peer pressure, love and sex. And as the subtitle of the novel – What not to do at IIT – suggests, "This is not a book to teach you how to get into IIT or even how to live in college. In fact, it describes how things can get screwed up if you don't think straight." The author Chetan Bhagat himself is an IIT and /IIM graduate. He worked in Hong Kong and then relocated to India and is working in an investment bank apart from writing books and screen plays. He is author of three novels Five Point Someone (2004), One Night
@ the call center (2005) and recently The 3 Mistakes of my Life (2008). The New York Times quoted him as the “biggest selling English author in India’s history”. Title of the novel “Five point some one” is taken form GPA system used in IIT. In the ranking system in IITs five points are considered average rank. Hari, Alok and Ryan are three main characters. They are roommates and studying in the same department at IIT. These three strange students became close friends after a ragging session by seniors and they stand up for each other’s during the four years at IIT on every occasion, despite their personal conflicts over several issues. They are far from the image of an IIT graduate as generally perceived to be and more like an average middle class youth. In the novel Hari narrates the story. He is average in study, seems confused but he keeps all three friends together, always taking the easy way out, falling in love and having sex with the daughter of his head of the department. Ryan is son of rich parents, a born rebellion. He hates his parents, as he feels neglected by them. He wants to be an innovator and he thinks that the IIT system puts hurdle in one’s innovation. Alok belongs to a typical lower Indian middle class family, burdened with lots of expectations and responsibility. He wants to get good GPA so that he can get a good job and support his family. This makes him some times selfish. They found themselves stuck in IIT system. They get bored with study, assignments and projects and wanted to enjoy the life and have fun to its fullest. This leads to their lower GPA in class quiz and exams. They managed to secure hardly 5 points GPA at a scale of 10, ranking near the end of their class. And this means the end of their bright career. The story describes the ups and downs of their life in campus - their reaction on scoring lowest GPA in the class, how they are perceived by students and professors on the basis of their GPA, their affection, their conflicts, their drinking habit and their strategy to beat the system. Meanwhile Hari fell into an affair with Neha, daughter of his head of department, Professor Cherian. When these three friends were in a great trouble, they found another professor Veera. He keeps confidence on his student and inspires them to think and act differently. He become the mentor of the three friends and supports them when they needed most. When the three friends realized that their future is at the stake they make a plan to steal the paper from his professor’s office. What happened to their plan? What happened to their career and dream? Would Hari be able to get married to Neha? Would Ryan succeed in his innovation? Would Alok live up to the expectations of his family? If you have never read any English novel, I strongly recommend you to start with this one. The novel is of only 270 pages and written in very simple English. The book is written in conversational style, which gives a feeling that events are happening in front of you. Characters and story seem very real, except some points like appearing in viva after taking a glass of vodka, but it’s ok since it is a work of fiction. At the end author Chetan Bhagat wonderfully conveys the message of the novel in the form of convocation speech. Excerpt from the book. “This is my message to all the students as you find your future. One, believe in yourself, and don’t let a GPA or a performance review or promotion define you. There is more to life than these things – Your family, your friends, your internal desires and goals. And the grades you get in dealing with each of these areas will define you as a person.” “Two, don’t judge people too quickly. It is great to get into IIT, but it is not the end of the world if you don’t. All of you should be proud of your IIT tag, but never ever judge anyone who is not from this institute-that alone can define the greatness of this institute” 102
“And lastly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is too short, enjoy yourself to the fullest. One of the best part of campus life is the friends you make. And make sure you make them for life. Yes, I have heard the stories. Sometimes I wish I had had a friend even if it meant lesser GPA” 10.7
Let us Sum Ups
In this unit we have discussed the art of Book Reviewing. We talked about the qualities desirable in a book reviewer along with his responsibilities, his role in practical terms and the various factors that contribute to a final evaluative judgment of a piece of writing. 10.8
Write a book review of the novel you have read recently. Include answers to the following questions: 1.
How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to "get into it"? How did you feel reading it—amused, sad, disturbed, confused, bored...? Describe the main characters—personality traits, motivations, inner qualities. • Why do characters do what they do? • Are their actions justified? • Describe the dynamics between characters (in a marriage, family, or friendship). • How has the past shaped their lives? • Do you admire or disapprove of them? • Do they remind you of people you know?
Do the main characters change by the end of the book? Do they grow or mature? Do they learn something about themselves and how the world works? Is the plot engaging—does the story interest you? Is this a plot-driven book: a fastpaced page-turner? Or does the story unfold slowly with a focus on character development? Were you surprised by the plot's complications? Or did you find it predictable, even formulaic? Talk about the book's structure. Is it a continuous story...or interlocking short stories? Does the time-line move forward chronologically...or back and forth between past and present? Does the author use a single viewpoint or shifting viewpoints? Why might the author have choosen to tell the story the way he or she did—and what difference does it make in the way you read or understand it? What main ideas—themes—does the author explore? (Consider the title, often a clue to a theme.) Does the author use symbols to reinforce the main ideas? What passages strike you as insightful, even profound? Perhaps a bit of dialogue that's funny or poignant or that encapsulates a character? Maybe there's a particular comment that states the book's thematic concerns? Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, why not...and how would you change it? If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask? Have you read other books by the same author? If so how does this book compare. If not, does this book inspire you to read others? 103
Has this novel changed you—broadened your perspective? Have you learned something new or been exposed to different ideas about people or a certain part of the world? ***********
Unit - 11 Press Coverage Structure 11.0 Objectives 11.1 Introduction 11.2 What is Press/Media Coverage and How to get it? 11.3 The Importance of Press/Media Coverage and the Method for Getting it. 11.4 What is Press Release and how to prepare it? 11.5 12-Steps to get Press Coverage 11.6 Strategies for getting Coverage. 11.7 Let us Sum Ups 11.8 Review Questions 11.0
After reading this unit, the students will be able to understand:
What is Press/Media Coverage and How to get it?
The Importance of Press/Media Coverage and the Method for Getting it.
What is Press Release and how to Prepare it?
12-Steps to get Press Coverage.
Strategies for getting Coverage.
Getting media coverage for your business is a good way to raise your profile, build brand awareness, get your name out there and generate more leads. But paying for advertising can be costly – a one-page advert in a national newspaper will set you back several thousand rupees and even ads in local papers can cost hundreds. So some well-planned PR can be a brilliant alternative. Public journalism seeks to explore issues affecting a community and stay with those issues long enough to give the community enough information to understand the conflict and get involved. This, however, often requires a long-term commitment by the journalist and news media to follow a story over the course of the conflict. If the story is of continuing high importance to the readers -- such as a war that involves local troops, such coverage is common. If the story is not deemed continuously "newsworthy," however, it takes a committed journalist to continue to write about it. Without the media, most people would know little of events beyond their immediate neighborhood. The further one goes outside of one's circle of friends and family, the more time-consuming and expensive it becomes to get information. Very few, if any, individuals have the resources to stay independently informed of world events. With the news, however, all one has to do is turn on a television or turn to the Internet. Even when it is biased or limited, it is a picture of what is happening around the world.
The more sources one compares, the more accurate the picture that can be put together. In addition to the media conglomerates, there are also a range of independent news outlets, though they have a much smaller audience. Some of these provide an alternative view of events and often strive to publish stories that cannot be found in the mainstream media. 11.2
What is Press/Media Coverage and How to get it?
Press coverage is often described as 'free' advertising. In fact, it can be much more powerful than advertising because people choose to read articles. But don't kid yourself over the 'free' tag. Nothing in life is free. Getting press coverage takes time and effort. But it is well worth it. There are lots of opportunities, ranging from: •
your local paid-for newspaper (they only want things of local interest, unless you are, say, an accountant summarising the previous day's budget implications)
your Chamber of Commerce magazine (you might need to be a member)
local radio and television (again, the emphasis is a local story)
trade, technical and professional magazines (some take-up from Press Releases. Most likely opportunities: interviews, opinion pieces, informed comment)
national newspapers (hard news - most likely coverage: inclusion in industry features/supplements)
consumer and lifestyle magazines
national radio and television - but usually your local station will feed your story to the network if it's good enough
How do I find the right journals for me? Get lists of every journal, magazine, newspaper etc , including free publications. It describes their readership, publication dates, and contact details, including the address, telephone number and email address of the editors. Futures Feature Schedules Magazines plan their features a year ahead, to make it easier for advertisers to know which editions will be particularly suitable. For each of your target journals, you should contact the Advertising Manager and ask for a copy of their Feature schedule. By knowing well in advance their feature topics, you will be able to contact editors with potential stories/opinion pieces/case studies before they have started booking articles. Advertorial Advertorial is the term used to describe articles where the magazine has been paid for the insertion. Many trade magazines offer this service, but........ why pay? Editors are hungry to fill pages.
The secret - have a story to tell. The secret is to think like an editor. He/she wants news. They want a story. Or they want informed comment. The last thing they want is sales puff. That's why many never even bother to read trade press releases - too many are thinly disguised sales copy. All you have to do is be different. Always ask yourself "If I were the editor, would I be thrilled to put this in my publication?" Look hard enough and you can always find (manufacture) a story. Then do all the groundwork, making life easier for busy editors. Here is an anecdote : “A couple of years ago, a very small Birmingham company wanted to tell the world they had moved offices. Not the most promising start but, when we dug deeper we manufactured a story. They specialised in security and it was a new building (possibly the most secure in the city?). They were able to demonstrate a security device that within seconds could fill a room with 'smoke' - disabling an intruder (a potential visual element). A quick phone call to the West Midlands Police provided all the statistics we needed on increased break-ins (saving the editor or journalist having to do the research). Now we had a story. It gained huge features in the Birmingham Mail, the Post and a four minute slot on Central TV (plus all the inevitable spill-over into cable TV).” Offer your expertise Whether you are a firm of solicitors, accountants, a software company or security specialist, you will have specialised expertise. Try to establish yourself as either the local guru or the trade guru whose opinion is valuable to editors. It will take time to convince them that you can deliver relevant news/opinions without the sales spiel. But the investment in time can be repaid many times over. One of our clients, who provided services to Builders Merchants, was eventually invited to provide articles for every other edition of the Builders Merchant Journal. It went on for years. Editors love photos Photos fill column inches and they act as a visual anchor in magazines, so editors love them. Always try to provide a high resolution photograph (try to avoid boring mug shots, people shaking hands or signing contracts). If it's not measured, it can't be managed Lots of PR companies will choose to confuse activity with effectiveness. They send out masses of press releases to completely unsuitable journals. Others offer some sort of measure of success - column inches. Whether you use an agency or do it yourself, be more demanding. Decide in advance what your success metrics will be. We should try to find the things like: •
Did the published article include a photograph?
Did it include a quote from the one of the company's directors? 107
Did it include a quote from a satisfied customer/client?
Did it name the company's products/services/specialisation
Did it convey our key marketing message?
....and so on
The Importance of Press/Media Coverage and the Method for Getting it
Getting media coverage not only will you save money, it can actually often be a more effective way of promoting your business because you are increasing your visibility and establishing yourself as an authority in your field, without having to sell to people. So how do you go about getting media coverage for your business? Take a look at this stepby-step guide for getting your small business in the press… 1.
Find an angle
You need to think about what aspect of your business could be newsworthy. Ideas for a news story include:
A new business launch/opening of a shop
A milestone in your business – ten years of trading, etc
Charity work you or your business is involved in
Winning an industry award for your business
A competition your business is running
Expanding your product line or services
Create a press release
The next thing you need is a well-written press release to send out to media outlets. Your press release is the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of your story. Write in a way that’s easy for the journalist to understand, and include a headline that will catch the journalist’s eye. Keep it clear and concise, and ensure your spelling and grammar are correct. Make sure you include all the relevant information in the release, including ways the journalist can contact you. If in doubt, consider hiring a copywriter to write a press release for you. 3.
Research appropriate media outlets
Look at which media outlets you should get in touch with – think about local and regional newspapers and magazines, specialist publications, national newspapers and magazines, websites, and TV and radio. Look at the stories they tend to feature, and think about how your business could fit in. 4.
Find an image to accompany the story
Think about relevant images that could be used to accompany your story – a photo of your new products, a snap of a recent open day, or perhaps a professional shot of yourself. 5.
Email your press release
Call up the publications you’re interested in targeting, and find out who to contact with a press release. Then send it via email. Make sure you use a subject line that clearly explains what the release is about. If you have got any relevant images to include, send a low-res version in the first instance, and make sure you have high-res versions on hand if the journalist asks for them. 6.
Be prepared to give the journalist whatever information they need for a potential story or feature, at short notice. Depending on your industry area and which media outlet your are dealing with, you may be expected to provide interviews, expert comment, images, case studies, product samples or items for a give-away. 7.
Shout about your coverage
When you do get some media coverage, don’t forget to shout about it. Put a link on your blog or website, tell your Twitter and Facebook followers, and mention it in your regular newsletter. 11.4
What is Press Release and how to Prepare it?
A press release is a written statement to the media. They can announce a range of news items, including scheduled events, personnel promotions, awards, new products and services, sales accomplishments, etc. They can also be used in generating a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a press release. It is a fundamental tool of PR work, one that anyone who's willing to use the proper format can use. We'll show you how. Think of a press release as your ticket to publicity -- one that can get your company coverage in all kinds of publications or on TV and radio stations. First, be sure you have a good reason for sending a press release. A grand opening, a new product, a record-setting sales year, a new location or a special event are all good reasons. Write a genuine headline. It should be brief, clear and to the point: an ultra-compact version of the press release’s key point. Plenty of PR professionals recommend writing your headline at the end, after the rest of the release is written. If you follow that instruction, continue on and come back to writing the headline once the rest is done. The headline is known as the eye-catcher and very important of the whole release. Second, make sure your press release is appropriately targeted for the publication or broadcast you're sending it to. It sounds obvious, but many entrepreneurs make the mistake of sending press releases at random without considering a publication's audience. To ensure readability, your press release should follow the standard format: typed, doublespaced, on white letterhead with a contact person's name, title, company, address and phone number in the upper right-hand corner. Below the information, put a brief, eye-catching headline in bold type. A dateline, for example, "Jaipur, April 10, 2010" follows, leading into the first sentence of the release. Limit your press release to one of two pages at most. It should be just long enough to cover the six basic elements: who, what, when, where, why and how. The answers to these six questions should be mentioned in order of their importance to the story to save the editor time and space. Don't embellish or hype the information. Remember, you are not writing the article, you are merely presenting the information and showing why it is relevant to that publication in hopes that they will write about it.
Pay close attention to grammar and spelling. Competition for publicity is intense, and a press release full of typos and errors is more likely to get tossed aside. Some business owners use attention-getting gimmicks to get their press releases noticed. In most cases, this is a waste of money. If your release is well-written and relevant, you don't need singing telegrams or a bouquet of flowers to get your message across. Once you reach the reporter on the telephone, remember that he or she is extremely busy and probably on deadline. Be courteous, and ask if he or she has time to talk. If not, offer to call back at a more convenient time. If the reporter can talk to you, keep your initial pitch to 20 seconds; afterward, offer to send written information to support your story ideas. Know exactly what you're going to say before you telephone the reporter. Have it written down in front of you -- it's easier, and you'll feel more confident. Don't be a pest. You can easily be persistent without being annoying. Be helpful and become a resource by providing reporters with information. Remember, they need your story ideas. There are only so many they can come up with on their own. Always remember that assistants get promoted. Be nice to everyone you speak with, no matter how low they are on the totem pole. After you establish a connection, keep in touch; you never know where people will end up. Writing is not easy for everybody and it’s easy to convince ourselves that if something is too hard it’s not worth it. If you know that you should be a writer, deep down, then don’t let difficulty, fear, or the opinion of others around you knock you down to earth. 11.5
12-Steps to get Press Coverage
Before we begin, understand that journalists have a love-hate relationship with publicrelations folks. Love, because publications always have column-inches and pixels to fill; hate, because so much of what PR people pitch is self-serving pap. In short: Journalists want to hear from you, but their patience is razor thin. Warning issued, here we go: 1)
Solve Someone’s Problem
Good articles inform and entertain. The best also solve readers’ problems—typically by way of tangible examples showing how, say, a company navigated a partnership with a larger firm, or finagled creative financing in a tight credit market, or turbocharged its growth by building a strong management team. The list in endless. Rather than email a reporter to set up a dreaded “informational interview,” indentify a few instructive stories within your firm—stories that other readers can relate to—and share those in your pitch right off the bat. Certainly, You’ll boost your chances of landing that first interview with a reporter. 2)
Find A News Peg
This one should be obvious, it isn’t. Not only must you identify why reporters should care about you or your company, you must figure out why they should care now. Did you just roll out a new product? Reach an impressive sales milestone? Expand your staff by 50% in three months? Reap the benefit of a recent policy change? Again, the examples are myriad.
Tip: A news peg without an engaging tale or business lesson is not a press release. If that’s all you have or bothered to come up with, don’t bother calling.
Clearly Define What Your Company Does
Just as a chicken processor shouldn’t say it “provides poultry-based solutions,” thousands of software companies, financial-services firms, marketing shops and other outfits shouldn’t try to dress up their acts with jargon. Two reasons: 1) It makes the reporter’s eyes cloud over, and 2) it sounds like you’re selling flimflam. Only after firmly establishing your business model can you flesh out a worthy story angle. Make clear—early and often—what your company does and how it makes money. If you can’t capture that in two or three sentences (a larger problem, by the way) then break up the explanation into separate, easily explained revenue streams. 4)
Pick A Theme
Few entrepreneurs or business models are so fascinating or unconventional that their very existence is cause for attention. That’s why you should look for a specific theme that writers can wrap their words around. Some examples: 5)
Sagas. Some entrepreneurial pursuits bloom into hard-fought, life-long journeys; chronicling them can be instructive and inspiring. Living Lean. Small companies that know how to wring every drop of profit from their operations have a lot to teach other entrepreneurs in any industry. Turnaround Tales. Near-death experiences make for riveting copy. Myth-Busters. Assumptions are meant to be ripped apart. Find the contrarian wisdom in your experience and share it.
Stroke Their Egos
Open secret about journalists: Many have enormous (and enormously fragile) egos, possibly to compensate for their painfully modest paychecks. Before you make your pitch, have a few genuinely thoughtful things to say about their work. 6)
Keep It Short
Mark Twain is said to have quipped: “I’d have written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time.” Take this notion to heart. A good scribe will appreciate the effort to boil a pitch to one or two short paragraphs that spell out what the story is and why the audience would benefit from reading it. 7)
Three relevant figures often speak louder than 300 words. Some numbers are proprietary for good reason, but most aren’t. Where possible, lose the adjectives and replace them with numbers— they’ll help you convey a lot of meaningful information in a small space (see previous step).Never promise to share numbers only to recant later on. You will jeopardize the article and likely torch your budding relationship with the reporter. 8)
Know What Specific Publications Are Looking For
In the publicity game, publications are your customers, and no two are alike. Some differences are stark while others are subtle. Some are about people, others about ideas; some play it 111
safe, others take a position. You can’t parse the universe of content perfectly, but you can pay attention to the kinds of stories certain pubs and writers seem to prefer. Read—a lot. Focus on the 10 publications that matter in your business and take notes on what they’re covering and how they cover it. With a little practice, you’ll start picking up patterns. 9)
Be A Source
Courting publications is a process. You might strike gold with your first pitch, but more likely you’ll have to build relationships over time. Reporters are always woefully short on context, so the more expert perspective you can offer (for attribution or just on background), the more valuable you will be to them. Don’t just focus on scoring a snappy quote—try to weigh in with hard data. Example: When taking the pulse of the economy last year, Forbes went looking for offbeat yet insightful metrics tracked by various small companies. Eric Starks, president of FT Associates, a logistics consulting firm, said that he kept an eye on small-truck sales, which remained stubbornly sluggish; small businesses tend to ship goods on smaller trucks, so Starks’ findings were an ominous economic indicator. 10)
Keep It Real
No one—let alone a reporter, let alone his editor—believes you’ve made all the right moves and world domination is near at hand. Business is hard and it’s insulting to pretend otherwise. (Pretip: Don’t insult journalists, even if they deserve it.) When the conversation turns to challenging topics, acknowledge them. Then apply jujitsu: Solve readers’ problems (see step #1) by helping them dodge pitfalls and map the path to recovery. 11)
Avoid The Hard Sell
A successful PR pro I’ve known for years makes a point of not talking about his clients at social events (even when he’s paying). Instead, he spends most of his time establishing relationships, building trust, and getting to know how people think and even what their passions are. Result: When he does have business to discuss, you know it’s at least worth a listen. Be patient but persistent. After making the initial connection with a reporter, chum the water every two months by offering some possible news pegs and story themes (see steps #3 and #4), or by sharing some interesting data (step #9). 12)
Unsettling as it may feel, once a reporter is on the case you can’t control the story. You just can’t. What you can do is provide absolutely accurate information—fortified with loads of relevant color and context—and let the words, like autumn leaves, fall where they may. 11.6
Strategies for getting Coverage
Know WHO You Are and WHAT You Want 1.
Determine your message by answering the following questions: * What’s different about you or your company? * What are you the expert of? * What makes you better than your competitors? 112
* What’s your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP)? 2.
Determine if you want national or local coverage (or both!).
What can you use (beyond your company or expertise) to help you stand out? I’ve used my hair. This guy used yellow shoes.
Create a list of everywhere you want to be covered: newspapers, sites, blogs, trade journals, etc.
Build Your Media List 1.
Identify the reporters at each publication who write about the specific topic for which you want to be covered.
Find their contact info. This will usually be included with their stories, but if it's not, search LinkedIn, Google, or on the publication’s site. If you’re still stuck, call the publication.
Create a spreadsheet with all of the publications, corresponding reporters, and their contact info. Include a column for notes where you can keep track of preferred contact methods, pitching preferences, best time to contact, and any other relevant info you learn after you’ve gotten to know each reporter.
Research (And Then Research Some More) 1.
Read a reporter’s work before you reach out to him or her. Write down your thoughts on some of his or her recent stories.
Is the reporter’s email at the end of his or her articles? This is a good sign they’re open to contact. Tip: Most journalists have (at least) two email addresses. One for the public (the catch-all) and one that they actually use. This is why your email subject line and the email itself are SO important. You have to be the ‘"signal" in all the ‘"noise" they have to get through.
Do the reporters respond to comments on the site or blog that they write on? Do they respond only to certain types of comments or to all of them? Make notes of particular comments that they react most favorably to.
Is he Mr. Twitter 2012? Is she a Google + Gal? Start following them to feel out their personalities and observe how responsive they are to other people online.
Many of the list building services will tell you how the reporter likes to be contacted. Follow those directions.
The Art of the Email 1.
Make contact with the reporter via email, telling them how much you enjoyed their latest piece and which parts you enjoyed the most. You’ll be shocked by how many reporters will respond to a quick congratulatory note.Tip: Don’t half-ass this step. If you didn’t really read it and aren’t familiar with their work at all, don’t do this.
Follow best email marketing practices (especially with your subject line). Your subject line will most likely mean the difference between making contact with the journalist. Make it count. You’ll need to catch the reporter’s attention in an overflowing inbox. 113
Keep the email short. Remove at least one sentence from whatever you wrote...
NEVER include attachments.
When they respond, tell them what you do and let them know you’d love to help with any stories they have coming up if they relate to what you do.
Try to get quoted on timely topics. Once you’ve made initial contact, email them when breaking news happens and give your own unique perspective. Keep it short and sweet.
Include a short bio (& a link to your longer one with a picture of you) in the message. This will save them from having to get more information from you if they’re on a tight deadline to get a story out.
Stay on top of "What’s Hot" in your industry so that you can proactively pitch. Pitch yourself as an expert source or figure out a way to work your company into the pitch. There are a bunch of good sites that can help you with this:
Working the Phones 1.
If you’re not a phone person, you’ll need to learn how to muscle through it or at least “fake it until you make it." Some reporters prefer email communication, while others prefer the phone (especially if they’re in a hurry to gather a lot of information).
Know what you’re talking about. You won’t be able to look things up while you’re on the phone (at least, not discreetly). Prepare before any calls to ensure you really know the topic inside and out.
Be energetic and positive. Tip: It might sound corny, but smiling while you’re on the phone automatically makes you sound friendlier. Being likeable can make a reporter more comfortable reaching out to you for help on future stories. If you had a choice between talking to a miserable person or a happy one (all things being equal), who would you choose?
Always tell the reporter something unusual or unexpected that will make you stick out and guarantee you end up in their story. We live in a 140-character, sound-bite driven world. Remember this...
Be definitive. Have a clear opinion on the subject. This is going to help them get that quote they need.
Growing Your Relationships 1.
A strong relationship with just one reporter can be invaluable. Treat each of these relationships like gold, and you can count on coverage for years.
Be adaptable. Some opportunities may not be exactly what you’re after, but being flexible and able to accommodate a reporter’s story in spite of this (and still work your message in somehow!) will position you as a dependable source.
Always go above and beyond. After a call or interview, send follow up info such as links, supporting materials, etc. Few things will make you stand out in a reporter’s mind more than making his or her job easier.
Pitch ideas. As journalism moves into a purely online form, journalists are competing more than ever for original stories. Again, making a reporter’s work easier will make you stand out. Come up with story ideas for them in which you can also offer your expertise (and work your message in).
Send a thank you note after an interview reminding the reporter you’re eager to help with anything in the future. Social media makes all of the above much easier and effective...
Use LinkedIn 1.
Once you’ve established contact, add the reporters you’re targeting as connections on LinkedIn.
Always send a personalized message when adding a new contact.
Understand how journalists use LinkedIn.
Optimize your profile so you can be found by reporters looking for a source: use keywords in your title, summary, and throughout your past job descriptions.
Be approachable. Make it clear in your summary you’re open to press contacts or mention publications you’ve appeared in.
Include all of your contact information in your profile: phone numbers, email, social profiles, office location, etc.
Make your profile public so you’ll show up in search results even if you’re not someone’s 2nd- or 3rd- degree connection.
Additionally, a public profile allows non-connections to see your contact info. This allows direct access to contacting you without being in your network.
Add your Skills & Expertise to your profile. These are easily searchable and are a quick way for reporters to find possible sources.
Influencers can “rank” on the Skills & Expertise page. Some of the best ways to rank for a certain skill include joining (and participating in) groups around that skill and following related companies for that skill.
Be active on LinkedIn Answers to position yourself as an expert on a given topic. Experts are featured on each topic’s Answers page. You can also display your Expert topics on your profile.
Subscribe to the RSS feed for the Answers topics you want to become an “expert” in; this will save you from checking back for new questions.
Customize your LinkedIn Today page. This news aggregator features the most popular content being shared on LinkedIn and Twitter, grouped by industry. It automatically shows you headlines based on your profession, but you can select which topics you want to see headlines from and even follow specific publications.
By studying what’s popular on LinkedIn Today, you can get a good idea of which publications are highly shareable among certain professional crowds. Consider
targeting some of these publications if people in your company’s target industry are sharing from them often.
Use Twitter 1.
Follow all of the reporters you’re targeting.
For help finding journalists on Twitter from a specific publication.
Create a Twitter list of these reporters so you can easily keep up with them in a separate stream. Remember, lists can be made private, so only you can see them and the people listed don’t know they’re listed.
Share their stuff. Don’t just hit the retweet button, but add a few words of your thoughts on their piece when you share a link to their story. This will help you stand out to really popular reporters who get hundreds of tweets.
Attribute a reporter with an @mention anytime you share a link to his or her story.
Don’t forget to make local connections.
Track (and participate in) journalism-related hash tags. A few include: #journchat (weekly chat among journalists, Mondays at 8 p.m. EST), #haro (“help a reporter out," used by journalists looking for sources), and #ddj (data-driven journalism topics)
Be there when a reporter needs help right away.
Use Facebook 1.
Understand why journalists use Facebook: to share their stories, interact with their readers, curate content and find sources.
Many journalists now allow you to subscribe to their Facebook updates, so their posts show up in your newsfeed without being their friend. Search the reporters you’re trying to connect with by name, and if they‘ve enabled the subscription option, subscribe to their posts.
Interact with them and become visible by liking and commenting on their posts.
When sharing a link to a story from a journalist you’re forming a relationship with, but you’re not yet Facebook friends, set these updates as public so anyone can see them. When a journalist views how many “shares” their story has, your post will be visible.
“Like” the pages of the publications you’re targeting. If you can’t find a publication by searching directly on Facebook, their site will most definitely have a link to their page.
Liking a page allows you to share content directly from the page. If a reporter doesn’t allow subscriptions like I mentioned above, this is the next best method for sharing their stories on Facebook.
Using Facebook Ads, you can make your company visible to reporters. Facebook Ads can target users based on where they work (like a publication you’re trying to target!).
In regards to the above, use these ads strictly for branding purposes and have them lead to more info about your company (a compelling landing page with recent news, press releases and media coverage is ideal).
Make Them Come to You (Inbound Coverage) 1.
Create kick-ass content! Among many other reasons, extraordinary content can lead reporters TO you. There’s a big reason why content marketing is so hot right now (and always has been and will be).
Conduct market research on current trends in your industry. Publish the full results, but also consider making these into easily digestible forms, like a blog post of the most interesting findings.
Also conduct surveys and opinion polls around hot (or emerging) topics in your industry.
Publish your most compelling case studies. These can be used as examples by the press when reporting on your industry.
Make all of the above into visual formats such as videos, infographics, kinectic typography. Because so many publications are online, they also need visual and/or interactive content to include in stories.
The Importance of Social Proof 1.
Add relevant social sharing buttons to your blog that also display the number of tweets, likes, shares, etc., a post has got.
Enable comments on your blog, but also make participation easy to see by placing the number of comments at the top of each post. An added bonus of responding to all of your blog comments: it doubles the number of comments on each post.
Create a “Featured In” section on your site listing some of the publications you’ve appeared in.
List your most impressive past and upcoming speaking engagements on your site. An event inviting you to speak is proof you know your stuff.
Actively grow your following on social networks. Your Twitter followers are by no means a direct reflection of your knowledge, but a down-to-the-wire reporter who needs an authority on a topic immediately may use this to help gauge your level of expertise. Do this by following other people, sharing great content and engaging in conversations daily.
If you have a large number of email subscribers, put this number next to your sign-up section (this will also help to attract even more new subscribers!).
What to Do Once You Get Coverage 1.
Share it on all of your social networks.
Treat the article or post like it’s your own. Build links to it. Encourage sharing. Drive traffic to it!
Include the link in your email newsletter and/or in your signature.
Put it on your site. Start an “As Seen In” section... you’ll need it once you keep getting a ton of coverage!
Let the reporter know you’ve been driving traffic to the story. If you contribute to the success of a piece, the reporter will be more willing to talk to you again.
Most media websites have a most popular/most emailed/most shared/etc. widget on their site. Many also do round-up posts, email, Tweet, share on Facebook, etc. about the most popular stories of the day/week/month.If you help to promote your story and get in one of these spots, you will get the extra coverage.
A. B. C. (Always Be Connecting) 1.
Actively introduce reporters, bloggers, and journalists to people who can help them out. Keep them up-to-date on the latest trends and things that you see happening. Don’t expect anything in return immediately.
Seek out guest blogging opportunities in your industry. This not only helps build your authority and gains visibility for you and your company, but also presents a chance for link building. Most blogs will allow at least a branded link within your guest post or author bio.
When you can’t actually help a reporter with a story (either you don’t have time or it’s completely outside of your expertise) refer them to someone who can. This saves the reporter time, and helps your friend. Win-win.
Measure Results 1.
Start a spreadsheet with the link to the story and columns for key metrics like: social shares, links, referral traffic, and lead generation.
Track metrics like social shares and comments. If the publications make these number visible, this will be easy.
If they don't, you will need to track down the shares yourself. A basic search on Twitter with the link to the story will pull up all instances of shares.
Keep track of the number of links to your coverage.
You can also count the number of times stories linking to your coverage were shared and commented on.
Monitor your analytics for referral traffic. Note all instances of traffic from the original story and the sites that linked to the story.
Pay attention to your organic traffic for searches leading to your site that relate to the topic discussed in your coverage.
Use tools to monitor buzz across the social web.
Did you get a lot of new leads/sales after coverage? Many times, new customers will tell you themselves where they heard about you (keep track of this!). Also 118
include a “how did you hear about us” option in your contact forms and allow space to include a source At the end of the day, it comes down to tenacity and not being afraid to ask for something. Don't get caught up in thinking that you aren't worthy of press coverage or that a reporter doesn't want to hear from you. Just ask. The worst that someone can do is to ignore you or say no. Simply by asking and actively pitching, you are ahead of the vast majority of your competitors. 11.7
Let us Sum Ups
This unit has given you information about the press/media coverage and its significance. Besides, now you have a clear cut idea about the categories to be adopted to get press coverage. 11.8
Review Questions 1.
What is Press/Media Coverage and how to get it?
What is the importance of Press/Media Coverage and the method for Getting it?
What is Press Release and how to prepare it?
What are the different steps to get Press Coverage?
What are the different strategies for getting Coverage? ***********
Unit - 12 Critical Theories or Approaches to Literature Structure 12.0 Objectives 12.1 Introduction 12.2 Historical Development 12.3 Major Literary Theories and Approaches 12.4 Let us Sum Ups 12.5 Review Questions 12.6 Bibliography 12.0
The objective of this unit is give us insight to the various theories or approaches of literature. But along with that how critical thinking has introduced in human mind these theories. Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue; assumptions; concepts; empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions; implications and consequences; objections from alternative viewpoints; and frame of reference. Critical thinking — in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes — is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking. 12.1
“Literary theory” is the body of ideas and methods we use in the practical reading of literature. By literary theory we refer not to the meaning of a work of literature but to the theories that reveal what literature can mean. Literary theory is a description of the underlying principles, one might say the tools, by which we attempt to understand literature. All literary interpretation draws on a basis in theory but can serve as a justification for very different kinds of critical activity. It is literary theory that formulates the relationship between author and work; literary theory develops the significance of race, class, and gender for literary study, both from the standpoint of the biography of the author and an analysis of their thematic presence within texts. Literary theory offers varying approaches for understanding the role of historical context in interpretation as well as the relevance of linguistic and unconscious elements of the text. Literary theorists trace the history and evolution of the different genres—narrative, dramatic, lyric etc. — in addition to the more recent emergence of the novel and the short story, while also investigating the importance of formal elements of literary structure. Lastly, literary theory in recent years has sought to explain the degree to which the text is
more the product of a culture than an individual author and in turn how those texts help to create the culture. “Literary theory,” sometimes designated “critical theory,” or “theory,” and now undergoing a transformation into “cultural theory” within the discipline of literary studies, can be understood as the set of concepts and intellectual assumptions on which rests the work of explaining or interpreting literary texts. Literary theory refers to any principles derived from internal analysis of literary texts or from knowledge external to the text that can be applied in multiple interpretive situations. All critical practice regarding literature depends on an underlying structure of ideas in at least two ways: theory provides a rationale for what constitutes the subject matter of criticism—”the literary”—and the specific aims of critical practice—the act of interpretation itself. For example, to speak of the “unity” of Oedipus the King explicitly invokes Aristotle’s theoretical statements on poetics. To argue, as does Chinua Achebe, that Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness fails to grant full humanity to the Africans it depicts is a perspective informed by a postcolonial literary theory that presupposes a history of exploitation and racism. Critics that explain the climactic drowning of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening as a suicide generally call upon a supporting architecture of feminist and gender theory. The structure of ideas that enables criticism of a literary work may or may not be acknowledged by the critic, and the status of literary theory within the academic discipline of literary studies continues to evolve. 12.2
Literary theory and the formal practice of literary interpretation runs a parallel but less well known course with the history of philosophy and is evident in the historical record at least as far back as Plato. The Cratylus contains a Plato’s meditation on the relationship of words and the things to which they refer. Plato’s skepticism about signification, i.e., that words bear no etymological relationship to their meanings but are arbitrarily “imposed,” becomes a central concern in the twentieth century to both “Structuralism” and “Poststructuralism.” However, a persistent belief in “reference,” the notion that words and images refer to an objective reality, has provided epistemological (that is, having to do with theories of knowledge) support for theories of literary representation throughout most of Western history. Until the nineteenth century, Art, in Shakespeare’s phrase, held “a mirror up to nature” and faithfully recorded an objectively real world independent of the observer. Modern literary theory gradually emerges in Europe during the nineteenth century. In one of the earliest developments of literary theory, German “higher criticism” subjected biblical texts to a radical historicizing that broke with traditional scriptural interpretation. “Higher,” or “source criticism,” analyzed biblical tales in light of comparable narratives from other cultures, an approach that anticipated some of the method and spirit of twentieth century theory, particularly “Structuralism” and “New Historicism.” In France, the eminent literary critic Charles Augustin Saint Beuve maintained that a work of literature could be explained entirely in terms of biography, while novelist Marcel Proust devoted his life to refuting Saint Beuve in a massive narrative in which he contended that the details of the life of the artist are utterly transformed in the work of art. (This dispute was taken up anew by the French theorist Roland Barthes in his famous declaration of the “Death of the Author.” See “Structuralism” and “Poststructuralism.”) Perhaps the greatest nineteenth century influence on literary theory came from the deep epistemological suspicion of Friedrich Nietzsche: that facts are not facts until they have been interpreted. Nietzsche’s critique of knowledge has had a profound impact on literary studies and helped usher in an era of intense literary theorizing that has yet to pass. Attention to the etymology of the term “theory,” from the Greek “theoria,” alerts us to the partial nature of theoretical approaches to literature. “Theoria” indicates a view or perspective of the Greek stage. This is precisely what literary theory offers, though specific theories often claim to 121
present a complete system for understanding literature. The current state of theory is such that there are many overlapping areas of influence, and older schools of theory, though no longer enjoying their previous eminence, continue to exert an influence on the whole. The once widely-held conviction (an implicit theory) that literature is a repository of all that is meaningful and ennobling in the human experience, a view championed by the Leavis School in Britain, may no longer be acknowledged by name but remains an essential justification for the current structure of American universities and liberal arts curricula. The moment of “Deconstruction” may have passed, but its emphasis on the indeterminacy of signs (that we are unable to establish exclusively what a word means when used in a given situation) and thus of texts, remains significant. Many critics may not embrace the label “feminist,” but the premise that gender is a social construct, one of theoretical feminisms distinguishing insights, is now axiomatic in a number of theoretical perspectives. While literary theory has always implied or directly expressed a conception of the world outside the text, in the twentieth century three movements—”Marxist theory” of the Frankfurt School, “Feminism,” and “Postmodernism”—have opened the field of literary studies into a broader area of inquiry. Marxist approaches to literature require an understanding of the primary economic and social bases of culture since Marxist aesthetic theory sees the work of art as a product, directly or indirectly, of the base structure of society. Feminist thought and practice analyzes the production of literature and literary representation within the framework that includes all social and cultural formations as they pertain to the role of women in history. Postmodern thought consists of both aesthetic and epistemological strands. Postmodernism in art has included a move toward nonreferential, non-linear, abstract forms; a heightened degree of self-referentiality; and the collapse of categories and conventions that had traditionally governed art. Postmodern thought has led to the serious questioning of the so-called metanarratives of history, science, philosophy, and economic and sexual reproduction. Under postmodernity, all knowledge comes to be seen as “constructed” within historical self-contained systems of understanding. Marxist, feminist, and postmodern thought have brought about the incorporation of all human discourses (that is, interlocking fields of language and knowledge) as a subject matter for analysis by the literary theorist. Using the various poststructuralist and postmodern theories that often draw on disciplines other than the literary—linguistic, anthropological, psychoanalytic, and philosophical—for their primary insights, literary theory has become an interdisciplinary body of cultural theory. Taking as its premise that human societies and knowledge consist of texts in one form or another, cultural theory (for better or worse) is now applied to the varieties of texts, ambitiously undertaking to become the preeminent model of inquiry into the human condition. 12.3
Major Literary Theories and Approaches
Literary theory is a site of theories: some theories, like “Queer Theory,” are “in;” other literary theories, like “Deconstruction,” are “out” but continue to exert an influence on the field. “Traditional literary criticism,” “New Criticism,” and “Structuralism” are alike in that they held to the view that the study of literature has an objective body of knowledge under its scrutiny. The other schools of literary theory, to varying degrees, embrace a postmodern view of language and reality that calls into serious question the objective referent of literary studies. The following categories are certainly not exhaustive, nor are they mutually exclusive, but they represent the major trends in literary theory of this century. Formalist Criticism This approach regards literature as “a unique form of human knowledge that needs to be examined on its own terms.” All the elements necessary for understanding the work are contained within the work itself. Of particular interest to the formalist critic are the elements of form—style, structure, tone, imagery, etc.—that are found within the text. A primary goal for formalist critics is to determine how such elements work together with the text’s content to shape its effects upon readers. 122
Like the “New Criticism,” “Structuralism” sought to bring to literary studies a set of objective criteria for analysis and a new intellectual rigor. “Structuralism” can be viewed as an extension of “Formalism” in that that both “Structuralism” and “Formalism” devoted their attention to matters of literary form (i.e. structure) rather than social or historical content; and that both bodies of thought were intended to put the study of literature on a scientific, objective basis. “Structuralism” relied initially on the ideas of the Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure. Like Plato, Saussure regarded the signifier (words, marks, symbols) as arbitrary and unrelated to the concept, the signified, to which it referred. Within the way a particular society uses language and signs, meaning was constituted by a system of “differences” between units of the language. Particular meanings were of less interest than the underlying structures of signification that made meaning itself possible, often expressed as an emphasis on “langue” rather than “parole.” “Structuralism” was to be a metalanguage, a language about languages, used to decode actual languages, or systems of signification. The work of the “Formalist” Roman Jakobson contributed to “Structuralist” thought, and the more prominent Structuralists included Claude Levi-Strauss in anthropology, Tzvetan Todorov, A.J. Greimas, Gerard Genette, and Barthes. The philosopher Roland Barthes proved to be a key figure on the divide between “Structuralism” and “Poststructuralism.” “Poststructuralism” is less unified as a theoretical movement than its precursor; indeed, the work of its advocates known by the term “Deconstruction” calls into question the possibility of the coherence of discourse, or the capacity for language to communicate. “Deconstruction,” Semiotic theory (a study of signs with close connections to “Structuralism,” “Reader response theory” in America (“Reception theory” in Europe), and “Gender theory” informed by the psychoanalysts Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva are areas of inquiry that can be located under the banner of “Poststructuralism.” If signifier and signified are both cultural concepts, as they are in “Poststructuralism,” reference to an empirically certifiable reality is no longer guaranteed by language. “Deconstruction” argues that this loss of reference causes an endless deferral of meaning, a system of differences between units of language that has no resting place or final signifier that would enable the other signifiers to hold their meaning. The most important theorist of “Deconstruction,” Jacques Derrida, has asserted, “There is no getting outside text,” indicating a kind of free play of signification in which no fixed, stable meaning is possible. “Poststructuralism” in America was originally identified with a group of Yale academics, the Yale School of “Deconstruction:” J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartmann, and Paul de Man. Other tendencies in the moment after “Deconstruction” that share some of the intellectual tendencies of “Poststructuralism” would included the “Reader response” theories of Stanley Fish, Jane Tompkins, and Wolfgang Iser. Lacanian psychoanalysis, an updating of the work of Sigmund Freud, extends “Postructuralism” to the human subject with further consequences for literary theory. According to Lacan, the fixed, stable self is a Romantic fiction; like the text in “Deconstruction,” the self is a decentered mass of traces left by our encounter with signs, visual symbols, language, etc. For Lacan, the self is constituted by language, a language that is never one’s own, always another’s, always already in use. Barthes applies these currents of thought in his famous declaration of the “death” of the Author: “writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin” while also applying a similar “Poststructuralist” view to the Reader: “the reader is without history, biography, psychology; he is simply that someone who holds together in a single field all the traces by which the written text is constituted.” Michel Foucault is another philosopher, like Barthes, whose ideas inform much of poststructuralist literary theory. Foucault played a critical role in the development of the postmodern perspective that knowledge is constructed in concrete historical situations in the form of discourse; knowledge is not communicated by discourse but is discourse itself, can only be encountered textually. Following Nietzsche, Foucault performs what he calls “genealogies,” attempts at deconstructing the unacknowledged operation of power and knowledge to reveal the ideologies that 123
make domination of one group by another seem “natural.” Foucaldian investigations of discourse and power were to provide much of the intellectual impetus for a new way of looking at history and doing textual studies that came to be known as the “New Historicism.” Biographical Criticism This approach “begins with the simple but central insight that literature is written by actual people and that understanding an author’s life can help readers more thoroughly comprehend the work.” Hence, it often affords a practical method by which readers can better understand a text. However, a biographical critic must be careful not to take the biographical facts of a writer’s life too far in criticizing the works of that writer: the biographical critic “focuses on explicating the literary work by using the insight provided by knowledge of the author’s life.... [B]iographical data should amplify the meaning of the text, not drown it out with irrelevant material.” Academic literary criticism prior to the rise of “New Criticism” in the United States tended to practice traditional literary history: tracking influence, establishing the canon of major writers in the literary periods, and clarifying historical context and allusions within the text. Literary biography was and still is an important interpretive method in and out of the academy; versions of moral criticism, not unlike the Leavis School in Britain, and aesthetic (e.g. genre studies) criticism were also generally influential literary practices. Perhaps the key unifying feature of traditional literary criticism was the consensus within the academy as to the both the literary canon (that is, the books all educated persons should read) and the aims and purposes of literature. What literature was, and why we read literature, and what we read, were questions that subsequent movements in literary theory were to raise. Historical Criticism This approach “seeks to understand a literary work by investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context that produced it—a context that necessarily includes the artist’s biography and milieu.” A key goal for historical critics is to understand the effect of a literary work upon its original readers. “New Historicism,” a term coined by Stephen Greenblatt, designates a body of theoretical and interpretive practices that began largely with the study of early modern literature in the United States. “New Historicism” in America had been somewhat anticipated by the theorists of “Cultural Materialism” in Britain, which, in the words of their leading advocate, Raymond Williams describes “the analysis of all forms of signification, including quite centrally writing, within the actual means and conditions of their production.” Both “New Historicism” and “Cultural Materialism” seek to understand literary texts historically and reject the formalizing influence of previous literary studies, including “New Criticism,” “Structuralism” and “Deconstruction,” all of which in varying ways privilege the literary text and place only secondary emphasis on historical and social context. According to “New Historicism,” the circulation of literary and non-literary texts produces relations of social power within a culture. New Historicist thought differs from traditional historicism in literary studies in several crucial ways. Rejecting traditional historicism’s premise of neutral inquiry, “New Historicism” accepts the necessity of making historical value judgments. According to “New Historicism,” we can only know the textual history of the past because it is “embedded,” a key term, in the textuality of the present and its concerns. Text and context are less clearly distinct in New Historicist practice. Traditional separations of literary and non-literary texts, “great” literature and popular literature, are also fundamentally challenged. For the “New Historicist,” all acts of expression are embedded in the material conditions of a culture. Texts are examined with an eye for how they reveal the economic and social realities, especially as they produce ideology and represent power or subversion. Like much of the emergent European social history of the 1980s, “New Historicism” takes particular interest in representations of marginal/marginalized groups and nonnormative behaviors—witchcraft, cross-dressing, peasant revolts, and exorcisms—as exemplary of the need for power to represent subversive alternatives, the Other, to legitimize itself. 124
Louis Montrose, another major innovator and exponent of “New Historicism,” describes a fundamental axiom of the movement as an intellectual belief in “the textuality of history and the historicity of texts.” “New Historicism” draws on the work of Levi-Strauss, in particular his notion of culture as a “self-regulating system.” The Foucaldian premise that power is ubiquitous and cannot be equated with state or economic power and Gramsci’s conception of “hegemony,” i.e., that domination is often achieved through culturally-orchestrated consent rather than force, are critical underpinnings to the “New Historicist” perspective. The translation of the work of Mikhail Bakhtin on carnival coincided with the rise of the “New Historicism” and “Cultural Materialism” and left a legacy in work of other theorists of influence like Peter Stallybrass and Jonathan Dollimore. In its period of ascendancy during the 1980s, “New Historicism” drew criticism from the political left for its depiction of counter-cultural expression as always co-opted by the dominant discourses. Equally, “New Historicism’s” lack of emphasis on “literariness” and formal literary concerns brought disdain from traditional literary scholars. However, “New Historicism” continues to exercise a major influence in the humanities and in the extended conception of literary studies. Ethnic Studies and Postcolonial Criticism “Ethnic Studies,” sometimes referred to as “Minority Studies,” has an obvious historical relationship with “Postcolonial Criticism” in that Euro-American imperialism and colonization in the last four centuries, whether external (empire) or internal (slavery) has been directed at recognizable ethnic groups: African and African-American, Chinese, the subaltern peoples of India, Irish, Latino, Native American, and Philipino, among others. “Ethnic Studies” concerns itself generally with art and literature produced by identifiable ethnic groups either marginalized or in a subordinate position to a dominant culture. “Postcolonial Criticism” investigates the relationships between colonizers and colonized in the period post-colonization. Though the two fields are increasingly finding points of intersection—the work of bell hooks, for example—and are both activist intellectual enterprises, “Ethnic Studies and “Postcolonial Criticism” have significant differences in their history and ideas. “Ethnic Studies” has had a considerable impact on literary studies in the United States and Britain. In W.E.B. Dubois, we find an early attempt to theorize the position of African-Americans within dominant white culture through his concept of “double consciousness,” a dual identity including both “American” and “Negro.” Dubois and theorists after him seek an understanding of how that double experience both creates identity and reveals itself in culture. Afro-Caribbean and African writers—Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe—have made significant early contributions to the theory and practice of ethnic criticism that explores the traditions, sometimes suppressed or underground, of ethnic literary activity while providing a critique of representations of ethnic identity as found within the majority culture. Ethnic and minority literary theory emphasizes the relationship of cultural identity to individual identity in historical circumstances of overt racial oppression. More recently, scholars and writers such as Henry Louis Gates, Toni Morrison, and Kwame Anthony Appiah have brought attention to the problems inherent in applying theoretical models derived from Euro-centric paradigms (that is, structures of thought) to minority works of literature while at the same time exploring new interpretive strategies for understanding the vernacular (common speech) traditions of racial groups that have been historically marginalized by dominant cultures. Though not the first writer to explore the historical condition of postcolonialism, the Palestinian literary theorist Edward Said’s book Orientalism is generally regarded as having inaugurated the field of explicitly “Postcolonial Criticism” in the West. Said argues that the concept of “the Orient” was produced by the “imaginative geography” of Western scholarship and has been instrumental in the colonization and domination of non-Western societies. “Postcolonial” theory reverses the historical center/margin direction of cultural inquiry: critiques of the metropolis and capital now emanate from the former colonies. Moreover, theorists like Homi K. Bhabha have questioned the binary thought that produces the dichotomies—center/margin, white/black, and 125
colonizer/colonized—by which colonial practices are justified. The work of Gayatri C. Spivak has focused attention on the question of who speaks for the colonial “Other” and the relation of the ownership of discourse and representation to the development of the postcolonial subjectivity. Like feminist and ethnic theory, “Postcolonial Criticism” pursues not merely the inclusion of the marginalized literature of colonial peoples into the dominant canon and discourse. “Postcolonial Criticism” offers a fundamental critique of the ideology of colonial domination and at the same time seeks to undo the “imaginative geography” of Orientalist thought that produced conceptual as well as economic divides between West and East, civilized and uncivilized, First and Third Worlds. In this respect, “Postcolonial Criticism” is activist and adversarial in its basic aims. Postcolonial theory has brought fresh perspectives to the role of colonial peoples—their wealth, labor, and culture—in the development of modern European nation states. While “Postcolonial Criticism” emerged in the historical moment following the collapse of the modern colonial empires, the increasing globalization of culture, including the neo-colonialism of multinational capitalism, suggests a continued relevance for this field of inquiry. Gender Criticism This approach “examines how sexual identity influences the creation and reception of literary works.” Originally an offshoot of feminist movements, gender criticism today includes a number of approaches, including the so-called “masculinist” approach recently advocated by poet Robert Bly. The bulk of gender criticism, however, is feminist and takes as a central precept that the patriarchal attitudes that have dominated western thought have resulted, consciously or unconsciously, in literature “full of unexamined ‘male-produced’ assumptions.” Feminist criticism attempts to correct this imbalance by analyzing and combatting such attitudes—by questioning, for example, why none of the characters in Shakespeare’s play Othello ever challenge the right of a husband to murder a wife accused of adultery. Other goals of feminist critics include “analyzing how sexual identity influences the reader of a text” and “examin[ing] how the images of men and women in imaginative literature reflect or reject the social forces that have historically kept the sexes from achieving total equality.” Psychological Criticism This approach reflects the effect that modern psychology has had upon both literature and literary criticism. Fundamental figures in psychological criticism include Sigmund Freud, whose “psychoanalytic theories changed our notions of human behavior by exploring new or controversial areas like wish-fulfillment, sexuality, the unconscious, and repression” as well as expanding our understanding of how “language and symbols operate by demonstrating their ability to reflect unconscious fears or desires”; and Carl Jung, whose theories about the unconscious are also a key foundation of Mythological Criticism. Psychological criticism has a number of approaches, but in general, it usually employs one (or more) of three approaches: 1
An investigation of “the creative process of the artist: what is the nature of literary genius and how does it relate to normal mental functions?”
The psychological study of a particular artist, usually noting how an author’s biographical circumstances affect or influence their motivations and/or behavior.
The analysis of fictional characters using the language and methods of psychology.
Sociological Criticism This approach “examines literature in the cultural, economic and political context in which it is written or received,” exploring the relationships between the artist and society. Sometimes it examines the artist’s society to better understand the author’s literary works; other times, it may 126
examine the representation of such societal elements within the literature itself. One influential type of sociological criticism is Marxist criticism, which focuses on the economic and political elements of art, often emphasizing the ideological content of literature; because Marxist criticism often argues that all art is political, either challenging or endorsing (by silence) the status quo, it is frequently evaluative and judgmental, a tendency that “can lead to reductive judgment, as when Soviet critics rated Jack London better than William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, and Henry James, because he illustrated the principles of class struggle more clearly.” Nonetheless, Marxist criticism “can illuminate political and economic dimensions of literature other approaches overlook.” Mythological Criticism This approach emphasizes “the recurrent universal patterns underlying most literary works.” Combining the insights from anthropology, psychology, history, and comparative religion, mythological criticism “explores the artist’s common humanity by tracing how the individual imagination uses myths and symbols common to different cultures and epochs.” One key concept in mythlogical criticism is the archetype, “a symbol, character, situation, or image that evokes a deep universal response,” which entered literary criticism from Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. According to Jung, all individuals share a “‘collective unconscious,’ a set of primal memories common to the human race, existing below each person’s conscious mind”—often deriving from primordial phenomena such as the sun, moon, fire, night, and blood, archetypes according to Jung “trigger the collective unconscious.” Another critic, Northrop Frye, defined archetypes in a more limited way as “a symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one’s literary experience as a whole.” Regardless of the definition of archetype they use, mythological critics tend to view literary works in the broader context of works sharing a similar pattern. Reader-Response Criticism This approach takes as a fundamental tenet that “literature” exists not as an artifact upon a printed page but as a transaction between the physical text and the mind of a reader. It attempts “to describe what happens in the reader’s mind while interpreting a text” and reflects that reading, like writing, is a creative process. According to reader-response critics, literary texts do not “contain” a meaning; meanings derive only from the act of individual readings. Hence, two different readers may derive completely different interpretations of the same literary text; likewise, a reader who re-reads a work years later may find the work shockingly different. Reader-response criticism, then, emphasizes how “religious, cultural, and social values affect readings; it also overlaps with gender criticism in exploring how men and women read the same text with different assumptions.” Though this approach rejects the notion that a single “correct” reading exists for a literary work, it does not consider all readings permissible: “Each text creates limits to its possible interpretations.” Deconstructionist Criticism This approach “rejects the traditional assumption that language can accurately represent reality.” Deconstructionist critics regard language as a fundamentally unstable medium—the words “tree” or “dog,” for instance, undoubtedly conjure up different mental images for different people— and therefore, because literature is made up of words, literature possesses no fixed, single meaning. According to critic Paul de Man, deconstructionists insist on “the impossibility of making the actual expression coincide with what has to be expressed, of making the actual signs [i.e., words] coincide with what is signified.” As a result, deconstructionist critics tend to emphasize not what is being said but how language is used in a text. The methods of this approach tend to resemble those of formalist criticism, but whereas formalists’ primary goal is to locate unity within a text, “how the diverse elements of a text cohere into meaning,” deconstructionists try to show how the text “deconstructs,” “how it can be broken down ... into mutually irreconcilable positions.” Other goals of 127
deconstructionists include (1) challenging the notion of authors’ “ownership” of texts they create (and their ability to control the meaning of their texts) and (2) focusing on how language is used to achieve power, as when they try to understand how a some interpretations of a literary work come to be regarded as “truth.” And so, the question becomes, how? And so, it seems to me, upon a lot of reflection, that the way that I have to work now, in order to continue writing, is that I have to create some sort of protective psychological construct, right? I have to, sort of find some way to have a safe distance between me, as I am writing, and my very natural anxiety about what the reaction to that writing is going to be, from now on. And, as I've been looking over the last year for models for how to do that I've been sort of looking across time, and I've been trying to find other societies to see if they might have had better and saner ideas than we have about how to help creative people, sort of manage the inherent emotional risks of creativity. And that search has led me to ancient Greece and ancient Rome. So stay with me, because it does circle around and back. But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome -- people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then, OK? People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity "daemons." Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius. Which is great, because the Romans did not actually think that a genius was a particularly clever individual. They believed that a genius was this, sort of magical divine entity, who was believed to literally live in the walls of an artist's studio, kind of like Dobby the house elf, and who would come out and sort of invisibly assist the artist with their work and would shape the outcome of that work. And then the Renaissance came and everything changed, and we had this big idea, and the big idea was let's put the individual human being at the center of the universe above all gods and mysteries, and there's no more room for mystical creatures who take dictation from the divine. And it's the beginning of rational humanism, and people started to believe that creativity came completely from the self of the individual. And for the first time in history, you start to hear people referring to this or that artist as being a genius rather than having a genius. I had this encounter recently where I met the extraordinary American poet Ruth Stone, who's now in her 90s, but she's been a poet her entire life and she told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, "run like hell." And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn't be fast enough, so she'd be running and running and running, and she wouldn't get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it "for another poet." And then there were these times -- this is the piece I never forgot -- she said that there were moments where she would almost miss it, right? So, she's running to the house and she's looking for the paper and the poem passes through her, and she grabs a pencil just as it's going through her, and then she said, it was like she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail, and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. And in these instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact but backwards, from the last word to the first. 128
We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely and that we avert some of the scenarios that we've talked about. And the only way we'll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. Gender Studies Gender studies explore the general significance of gender and sexuality to structures of literary and cultural representations. The values and constitutions of gender and sexuality are not constant however, but change from time, society and place. Gender roles differ depending on society and culture because the society in which people live plays an enormous role in defining the expected patterns of behaviour expected to follow from a person’s sex. Gender studies question gender roles and identity in literature and society itself. Gender roles are the roles that society assigns to men and women based on their sex and especially influence the relationships between men and women. Gender identity is when an individual self-identifies with a gender category. The challenges of gender and sexual identity have been increasingly theorized in literature as it plays an important part in constructing gender roles. Culture and literature has formed strict requirements for how women should look, act and behave and has also set certain standards that men must live up to. Michael Moon argues that gender or sexual desire is imitation and not a completely original behaviour by individuals. Before our personal desires are actually made, they are made by the desires of others that influence our own. A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which is separate from biological sex. Gender and sexuality are social constructions that are fluid and elusive. It is an issue that has been theorized by many who question the fixed categories of sexual identity and the concepts generated by what is considered socially normal or conventional sexual ideology. Society has a massive effect on gender identities suggesting that the only categories of gender are male or female but an individuals’ identity should not be determined by their sex. Female masculinity gives us a glimpse of how masculinity is constructed as masculinity in our society represents power and dominance. Female masculinity portrays a more convincing masculinity, as James Bond has proven, since it doesn’t require the misogynistic and chauvinist traits of male-masculinity. In Moon’s opinion, sexuality and gender are imitative and therefore not part of one’s own identity. If one mimics another’s gender then one would not know truly what one’s comfortable or ‘at home’ with. In all, gender and sexuality are complex and dense issues that have been theorized in many ways including that of Feminine masculinity, gender and sexual identity, the construction of gender, whether socially/culturally constructed or mimicked and gender roles. Gender Studies and Queer Theory Elaine Showalter's A Literature of Their Own, which describes three stages in the history of women's literature, also proposes a similar multi-part model of the growth of feminist theory. First, according to Showalter, comes an androgynist poetics. Next, a feminist critique and female Aesthetic, accompanied by gynocritics, follows, and these are closely pursued by gynesic poststructuralist feminist criticism and gender theory. Androgynist poetics, having relations and perhaps roots in mid-Victorian women's writing of imitation, contends that the creative mind is sexless, and the very foundation of describing a female tradition in writing was sexist. Critics of this vein found gender as imprisoning, nor believed that gender had a bearing in the content of writing, which, according to Joyce Carol Oates is actually culture-determined. Imagination is too broad to be hemmed in by gender.
However, from the 1970s on, most feminist critics reject the genderless mind, finding that the "imagination" cannot evade the conscious or unconscious structures of gender. Gender, it could be said, is part of that culture-determination which Oates says serves as inspiration. Such a position emphasizes "the impossibility of separating the imagination from a socially, sexually, and historically positioned self." This movement of thought allowed for a feminist critique as critics attacked the meaning of sexual difference in a patriarchal society/ideology. Images of male-wrought representations of women (stereotypes and exclusions) came under fire, as was the "'division, oppression, inequality, [and] interiorized inferiority for women.'" The female experience, then, began to take on positive affirmations. The Female Aesthetic arose -- expressing a unique female consciousness and a feminine tradition in literature -- as it celebrated an intuitive female approach in the interpretation of women's texts. It "spoke of a vanished nation, a lost motherland; of female vernacular or Mother Tongue; and of a powerful but neglected women's culture." Writers like Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson, emerging out of the Victorian period and influenced by its writings were perhaps the first women to recognize this. In "Professions for Women," Woolf discusses how a woman writer seeks within herself "the pools, the depths, the dark places where the largest fish slumber," inevitably colliding against her own sexuality to confront "something about the body, about the passions." The French feminists of the day discussed this Mother Tongue, calling it l'écriture feminine. Accessible to men and women alike, but representing "female sexual morphology," l'écriture feminine sought a way of writing which literally embodied the female, thereby fighting the "subordinating, linear style of classification or distinction." Showalter finds that whether this clitoral, vulval, vaginal, or uterine; whether centered on semiotic pulsions, childbearing, or jouissance, the feminist theorization of female sexuality/textuality, and its funky audacity in violating patriarchal taboos by unveiling the Medusa, is an exhilarating challenge to phallic discourse. There are problems with the Female Aesthetic, which feminist critics recognized. Even its most fervent fans avoided defining exactly what constituted the style of l'écriture feminine, as any definition would then categorize it and safely subsume it as a genre under the linear patriarchal structure. Its very restlessness and ambiguity defied identification as part of its identity. Needless to say, some feminists and women writers could feel excluded by the surreality of the Female Aesthetic and its stress on the biological forms of female experience, which, as Showalter says, also bears close resemblance to sexist essentialism. Men may try their hand at writing woman's bodies, but according to the feminist critique and Aesthetic, only woman whose very biology gave her an edge, could read these texts successfully -- risking marginalization and ghettoization of both women's literature and theory. Lastly, the Female Aesthetic was charged with racism, as it rarely referred to racial or class differences between women and largely referred to a white woman's literary tradition. Gynocritics, which developed shoulder-to-shoulder with the Female Aesthetic, attempted to resolve some of these problems, by agreeing that women's literature lay as the central concern for feminist criticism, but "rejected the concept of an essential female identity and style." One branch of gynocriticism sought to revise Freudian structures and take the edge off of an adversarial methodology of criticism. These critics emphasized a Pre-Oedipal phase wherein the daughter's bond to her mother inscribes the key factor in gender identity. Matriarchal values desolve intergenerational conflicts and build upon a female tradition of literature rather than the struggle of Oedipus and Lais at the crossroads. Poststructuralism eventually influenced the course of feminist theory with the idea of a motherless as well as fatherless text. The female experience, as it relates to texts, only occurs in the feminine subjectivity of the reading process. "Gynesis" or "gynetic disruptions" occur in texts when the reader explores "the textual consequences and representations of 'the feminine.'" These
considerations or interruptions in the discourse indicate a consideration or interruption of the patriarchal system. Lastly and most recently are developments of an over-arching gender theory, which considers gender, both male and female, as a social construction upon biological differences. Gender theory proposes to explore "ideological inscription and the literary effects of the sex/gender system," and as many advantages, opening up the literary theory stage and bringing in questions of masculinity into feminist theory. Also, taking gender as a fundamental analytic category brings feminist criticism from the margin to the center, though risks depoliticizing the study of women. Gender theory came to the forefront of the theoretical scene first as feminist theory but has subsequently come to include the investigation of all gender and sexual categories and identities. Feminist gender theory followed slightly behind the reemergence of political feminism in the United States and Western Europe during the 1960s. Political feminism of the so-called “second wave” had as its emphasis practical concerns with the rights of women in contemporary societies, women’s identity, and the representation of women in media and culture. These causes converged with early literary feminist practice, characterized by Elaine Showalter as “gynocriticism,” which emphasized the study and canonical inclusion of works by female authors as well as the depiction of women in male-authored canonical texts. Feminist gender theory is postmodern in that it challenges the paradigms and intellectual premises of western thought, but also takes an activist stance by proposing frequent interventions and alternative epistemological positions meant to change the social order. In the context of postmodernism, gender theorists, led by the work of Judith Butler, initially viewed the category of “gender” as a human construct enacted by a vast repetition of social performance. The biological distinction between man and woman eventually came under the same scrutiny by theorists who reached a similar conclusion: the sexual categories are products of culture and as such help create social reality rather than simply reflect it. Gender theory achieved a wide readership and acquired much its initial theoretical rigor through the work of a group of French feminist theorists that included Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous, and Julia Kristeva, who while Bulgarian rather than French, made her mark writing in French. French feminist thought is based on the assumption that the Western philosophical tradition represses the experience of women in the structure of its ideas. As an important consequence of this systematic intellectual repression and exclusion, women’s lives and bodies in historical societies are subject to repression as well. In the creative/critical work of Cixous, we find the history of Western thought depicted as binary oppositions: “speech/writing; Nature/Art, Nature/History, Nature/Mind, Passion/Action.” For Cixous, and for Irigaray as well, these binaries are less a function of any objective reality they describe than the male-dominated discourse of the Western tradition that produced them. Their work beyond the descriptive stage becomes an intervention in the history of theoretical discourse, an attempt to alter the existing categories and systems of thought that found Western rationality. French feminism, and perhaps all feminism after Beauvoir, has been in conversation with the psychoanalytic revision of Freud in the work of Jacques Lacan. Kristeva’s work draws heavily on Lacan. Two concepts from Kristeva—the “semiotic” and “abjection”—have had a significant influence on literary theory. Kristeva’s “semiotic” refers to the gaps, silences, spaces, and bodily presence within the language/symbol system of a culture in which there might be a space for a women’s language, different in kind as it would be from male-dominated discourse. Masculine gender theory as a separate enterprise has focused largely on social, literary, and historical accounts of the construction of male gender identities. Such work generally lacks feminisms’ activist stance and tends to serve primarily as an indictment rather than a validation of male gender practices and masculinity. The so-called “Men’s Movement,” inspired by the work of Robert Bly among others, was more practical than theoretical and has had only limited impact on gender discourse. The impetus for the “Men’s Movement” came largely as a response to the critique 131
of masculinity and male domination that runs throughout feminism and the upheaval of the 1960s, a period of crisis in American social ideology that has required a reconsideration of gender roles. Having long served as the de facto “subject” of Western thought, male identity and masculine gender theory awaits serious investigation as a particular, and no longer universally representative, field of inquiry. Much of what theoretical energy of masculine gender theory currently possesses comes from its ambiguous relationship with the field of “Queer theory.” “Queer theory” is not synonymous with gender theory, nor even with the overlapping fields of gay and lesbian studies, but does share many of their concerns with normative definitions of man, woman, and sexuality. “Queer theory” questions the fixed categories of sexual identity and the cognitive paradigms generated by normative (that is, what is considered “normal”) sexual ideology. To “queer” becomes an act by which stable boundaries of sexual identity are transgressed, reversed, mimicked, or otherwise critiqued. “Queering” can be enacted on behalf of all non-normative sexualities and identities as well, all that is considered by the dominant paradigms of culture to be alien, strange, unfamiliar, transgressive, odd—in short, queer. Michel Foucault’s work on sexuality anticipates and informs the Queer theoretical movement in a role similar to the way his writing on power and discourse prepared the ground for “New Historicism.” Judith Butler contends that heterosexual identity long held to be a normative ground of sexuality is actually produced by the suppression of homoerotic possibility. Eve Sedgwick is another pioneering theorist of “Queer theory,” and like Butler, Sedgwick maintains that the dominance of heterosexual culture conceals the extensive presence of homosocial relations. For Sedgwick, the standard histories of western societies are presented in exclusively in terms of heterosexual identity: “Inheritance, Marriage, Dynasty, Family, Domesticity, Population,” and thus conceiving of homosexual identity within this framework is already problematic. Cultural Studies Much of the intellectual legacy of “New Historicism” and “Cultural Materialism” can now be felt in the “Cultural Studies” movement in departments of literature, a movement not identifiable in terms of a single theoretical school, but one that embraces a wide array of perspectives—media studies, social criticism, anthropology, and literary theory—as they apply to the general study of culture. “Cultural Studies” arose quite self-consciously in the 80s to provide a means of analysis of the rapidly expanding global culture industry that includes entertainment, advertising, publishing, television, film, computers and the Internet. “Cultural Studies” brings scrutiny not only to these varied categories of culture, and not only to the decreasing margins of difference between these realms of expression, but just as importantly to the politics and ideology that make contemporary culture possible. “Cultural Studies” became notorious in the 90s for its emphasis on pop music icons and music video in place of canonical literature, and extends the ideas of the Frankfurt School on the transition from a truly popular culture to mass culture in late capitalist societies, emphasizing the significance of the patterns of consumption of cultural artifacts. “Cultural Studies” has been interdisciplinary, even antidisciplinary, from its inception; indeed, “Cultural Studies” can be understood as a set of sometimes conflicting methods and approaches applied to a questioning of current cultural categories. Stuart Hall, Meaghan Morris, Tony Bennett and Simon During are some of the important advocates of a “Cultural Studies” that seeks to displace the traditional model of literary studies. 12.4
Let us Sum Up
In sum, education in critical theory enables the development and refinement of our ability to engage as Critical Citizens, that is as empowered agents able effectively to question, challenge, and contribute toward the progressive transformation of the prevailing status quo within the communities, societies, and cultures that we work to help maintain and reproduce every day, and in
relation to which we are, as such, always not only inescapably interested – but also vitally important – participants. 12.5
Review Questions 1 2 3 4 5
What is psychoanalytic criticism? What are the features of traditional criticism? How does New Criticism compare to earlier approaches? What does "applying classical Indian aesthetics to literary and cultural studies" mean? What is the difference between the Formalist and Deconstructionist schools of literary criticism?
Blechner, M. J. (1995) The shaping of psychoanalytic theory and practice by cultural and personal biases about sexuality. In T. Domenici and R. Lesser, (eds.) 'Disorienting Sexuality.' New York: Routledge, pp. 265–288.
Blechner, M. J. (1998) Maleness and masculinity. 'Contemporary Psychoanalysis,' 34:597–613
X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia’s Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, Sixth Edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), pages 1790-1818.
Bracha L. Ettinger, "Matrixial Trans-subjectivity" in: Problematizing Global Knowledge. Theory, Culture & Society, Volume 23, Numbers 2–3, 2006. ISSN 02632764
Bennett, Andrew & Royle, Nicholas. ‘An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory’, Third edition, Britain, Bennet and Royle, 2004
Butler, Judith. ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: an essay in Phenomenology and feminist theory’, John Hopkins University Press, 1990
Butler, Judith. ‘Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity’, New York, Routledge Press, 1990
Halberstam, Judith. ‘The queer art of failure’, Duke University Press, 2011-11-29
Rivkin, Julie & Ryan, Michael. ‘Literary theory, An anthology’, second edition, Blackwell, 1998
Ryan, Michael. ‘Literary theory: A Practical Introduction’, second edition, Blackwell, 2007
Sadowski, Piotr. ‘Gender and literature: A systems study’, University press of America, 2001