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Genette Notes

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Genette Context


Not a linear sequence


1st argument - the need to combine particular literary works ('critique') with a general study of the literary system ('poétique') - talked about in 1 st essay, illustrated in 4th


2nd argument - how to balance 'poétique' with a history of literature - talked about in 2nd essay, illustrated in 3rd


Broader argument about language itself in all 4 essays


Interest in systems derived from structuralism, the methodology of which was derived from linguistics


Structuralism came mainly from Saussure


4 ideas that underlie G.'s arguments o Langue/Parole - whole system of language/particular utterance which has to be looked at within the system o Signifier/Signified - word/notion - no intrinsic link between them, merely a convention o Synchronic/Diachronic - language at a particular time/how language changes over time - G. wanted to integrate history back into literary theory o Syntagm/Paradigm - sequence of words in a sentence/words chosen from a set


General interest in systems and theory of literature, as well as linguistic structures - thus, G. uses detailed/rigorous analysis and technical language Critique et Poétique


General argument of combining particular works with a theory of literature


Difficult to write without a broader theory - any writer thinking about a work is engaged, never read a text in isolation, automatically think of genre etc.


Traditional idea of poetics was all about issuing rules about what is in each genre  for G., poetics = system's capacity to produce individual works - 'une exploration des divers possibles du discours' (pg11)


For Jakobson, the object of literary study was 'la littérarité' (pg11) 
shouldn't look at literature as a series of things, but look at the system producing them, what has been/might be written


G. blames romanticism and positivism for looking at individual facts/authors and calls for a corroboration, raising the question of historical awareness  he rejects viewing works as systems in themselves, taken out of historical context - 'une oeuvre, considerée…comme un 'objet' clos…' (pg10) Poétique et Histoire


Goes through ways in which critics have brought history into their studies, but says they haven't done it right, they don't reflect on what history and literature actually are

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