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COMPARATIVE LITERATURE, THE EXISTING THOUGHT

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COMPARATIVE LITERATURE, THE EXISTING THOUGHT

 

INTRODUCTION

Literature possesses greater responsibility to twirl the human beings act with understanding by applying real meaning to life. It leads the life of a person with character and promotes to the generation the thought that has been inherited. It is not for art and art alone but more than art, a transcending reality which is a search. Levis lays the base thought that ‘Literature is not just an aesthetic experience but one dictated by the writer’s profoundest interests in life.’1 Levis tries to explicate the inspiration that one could draw from literature by using it as ‘aesthetic’. In the course of action, for the creation of any art, the creator turns out what is hidden in the unknown core of thought, which emerges as literature. Poetry is one among them as: “A literature that is just beginning cannot be vital unless it stems out of, and is involved in the life around it.”2 Literature talks about concrete things, which are movable and immovable. The mind that reads art produces literature for pleasure and for perfection both rewarding and recreating.

 

CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW

Starting from Elizebethan age, prosperity in literature had its root and flourished in the successive ages.  In competence with the Italian Renaisance, it rediscovered the ancient Greek and Roman theatre. Jacobean literature with the help of the academicians like Ben Jonson embellished. Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries presented a sensibility towards literature and has been reflecting since then. Starting from the Elizabethan age that saw a great prosperity in literature, especially in the field of Drama, English literature rooted itself in competence with the worldly literatures.

 

The Italian Renaissance had rediscovered the ancient Greek and Roman theatre, which was then beginning to evolve apart from the old mystery and miracle plays of the middle ages. Jacabean literature after Shakespeare’s death, the poet and dramatist Ben Johnson was the leading figure in literature during the period of James I. His writings promoted a global consciousness in the minds of young scholars to have development in thought and let literature go on. Caroline and Cromwellian Literature had their growth in the 17th century during the period of Charles I political and commonwealth literature developed in full spirit.

 

Writers of the whole world under the reign of the British emerged in writing communicating in English, which gave way for the production of commonwealth poetry and novels. Restoration literature, the most important age of English literature, was an era of poetic form. The age of Milton sprouted and the great epics, like Paradise Lost, Rochester’s Sodom were the centre of thought. Added to this, Christian religious writing had its move from the thought of Christian doctrines. Augustan Literature in 1720s and 1730s paved the way for both philosophical and theological thought. It promoted new schools of thought that marches on until now spreading in to multiple branches.

 

The eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries presented a sensibility towards literature and that has been reflecting since then. The age of enlightenment followed and the creativity in English writing has become ad infinitum. Twentieth century had no barriers with freedom in thought and with human rights focused on in the field of literature sustaining with anticipation of the future. The art of writing has been the boon for the younger generation since the sprouting publications in the field of education.

 

Comparative skill is the base for the knowledge to get the best from each other. It widens the thought of the world as a branch and entertains the global consciousness of languages and the one world concept in the mind of all those who are in the field of world literature with the clutching to humanness. A.O. Lovejoy elucidates literature with the modern connotation as:

‘Literature, like any cultural activity, does not and cannot exist in a vacuum, and we must consider, for example, the relationship between literature and the other arts, especially music and painting. This is as rewarding a study as that of the relationship between the literatures of different periods and different countries.’4

 

Professor Gaither accepts the points mentioned by A.O. Lovejoy and agrees upon the thought of literature, ‘preliminary forms of expression.’ Comparative literature does not leave unlettered myths, epics and tales. European scholars are at the risk of understanding the fascinating problem both in the history and in the philosophy of literature. From Aristotle to the modern time, the students of research are perplexed to find the truth of comparative literature. Though Greek and Roman epics played the starting role in the form of literature, the folklore spread and maintained the equilibrium between literature and life. Historicism, romanticism, criticism and dramaticism cluster under the thought of comparative literature to bring in flourishing atmosphere in the field of literature.

 

The modern Indian literature has brought in invincible credit to the world literature and the crisis between the two sects in India is competitive as Dr. Marudhanayagam insists as in the following:

“The spectacular success of contemporary Indian writing in English has led to ione more controversy concerning its relative merits and limitation when juxtaposed with Indian Wrting in the regional language like Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil or Kannada.”5

Dr. Marudhanayagam has contributed the real and existing concept of tension between the Indian

writing and the western in a clear way.

 

Indian languages have history long back to millennia. The regional writers feel that the great Indian heritage, the more than five millennia old tradition, especially the literatures in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu,  Bengali and other regional languages, a few of which are as old as, if not older than, any of the European literatures, is their exclusive preserve as most of the other group have onl nodding acquaintance with it.  While the former have ‘A rich backyard-centuries-old literary traditions, folk-tale and life all round them…”

 

To launch poetry, the words of William Wordsworth is the apt landmark to portray as his reputed line: ‘Poetry is a spontaneous overflow of the powerful feelings.’6  Poetry has power to source all other art ascertaining the concept float for generation to generation. It dominates the thought sustaining and echoing in segments of any art. Though it has been acknowledged with feelings, it transcends it. The transcending reality persuades the creator of art to be the master by proving the participation with the master of all masters. William Wordsworth finds his emotion- though everyone is gifted with- as the source for the creation.

 

There are four states of the process of creation; observation, recollection, contemplation, and imaginative excitement. Creation leads to observation and the ardent observation promotes to contemplation. The period of contemplation is the eternal enjoyment of pleasure for which everyone is created. Cleanth Brooks and R.P Warren elaborate it as: ‘Emotional expression is an essential element of poetry.’7

 

Emotion is channelized in to creative activity for the artist. For art is way of life and life made up of artistic perfections. Life has meaning only when this mission is accomplished. The creator finds the truth and promulgates it from his own way, whatever be the means, the right means, the spontaneous expression. Aristotle’s articulations prove position of a poet as:

‘Since the actions of ordinary men are generally governed by passions, poets are apt to appeal to them. Thus poetry feeds and waters the passion which ought to be starved and left dry. In this way poets create anarchy in the soul which, in turn, might lead to chaos in society, if men are guided by their emotions and passions.’8

 

For Philip Sidney explores his own thought on poetry as a long process of thought that has been carried out from generation to generation as:

‘Poetry has flourished in all ages and countries. Even the uncivilized like the Turks and the Tartars, love poetry that softens their hard hearts. Even the Red Indians love poetry, and it sharpens their wits.’9

 

Ragukhul thinks like Plato’s way and Aristotle’s of comparing the poetry with the art of imitation. The imitation that reflects the originally hidden truth taken out by the poet as:

‘Poetry is an art of imitation. It is representing, counterfeiting or figuring forth. Poetry is ‘speaking picture’ so to say, and its end is to teach and delight.’10

 

COMPARATIVE THOUGHT

Comparative literature is a young and new discipline, in which, the practitioners are still keenly interested in renovating its objectives and scope. It is the study of literature beyond the confines of one particular country, and the study of the relationships between literature on one hand and other areas of knowledge and belief, such as the arts (e.g. painting, sculpture, architecture, music), philosophy, history, the social sciences, (e.g. politics, economics, sociology), the sciences, religion, etc., on the other. In brief as Henry remarks:

“It is the comparison of one literature with another or others, and the comparison of literature with other spheres of human expression.”11

 

One of the first to anticipate the study of Comparative Literature was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In the early 19th century, Goethe promulgated the idea of Weltliteratur, or World Literature, though he did not follow up with any comprehensive critical work on the subject. Comparative Literature studies literature across different times and cultures. Comp Lit programs are interdisciplinary, but stress language skills and critical theory.

 

The academic discipline of Comparative Literature practices literary criticism on works written in different languages and coming from different cultures. Other types of art is compared, especially if they, like opera or film, have a written aspect Sandra Bermann's Presidential Address of fourteen pages, to the American Comparative Literature Association in 2009, puts in plain words on comparative literature in an unexpected form of elucidation un-avoiding anything that falls under the sky in comparison:

“Comparative literature regularly joins literary texts from different languages and cultures. It also regularly connects, say, a poem with dance, a film with the novel, photography with the essay. It even relates different disciplinary languages and modes of thinking."12
 

Comparative literature requires greater concentration, since two languages, two literary giants or two different fields are taken for the study, which by and large involve various ages, cultures, persons, issues, and many more. The effectiveness of developing arguments is progressed in the comparative study as:

‘Comparative literature confines the study of the relationships between literature on the one hand and other areas of knowledge and belief. The comparison is of literature with other spheres of human expression.’13

 

The valid appreciation for other language literature buds on when the comparative literature is exposed to study as the comparative study of literature and psychology:

“The interpretation of human consciousness and behavior springing from the works of Freud and Jung is shown to be relevant to the study of contemporary literature--Continental, British, and American.”14

 

 Mr. Edel defends the proposition that psychoanalysis has contributed important aids to three facets of literary study:

“(1) to criticism itself, (2) to the study of the creative process in literature, (3) to the writing of biography."15

 

Professor Stallknecht considers the study of literature in its relation to the history of ideas. He is interested in the way in which philosophical ideas are appropriated or absorbed by creative writers and in the manner in which certain ideas undergo transformation as they pass from one period to another. Mr. Stallknecht's orientation is derived from the writings of the English philosopher R. G. Collingwood and the German critic Erich Auerbach rather than from the work of A. O. Lovejoy. The latter's notion of a "unit-idea" is considered critically. Literature, like any cultural activity, does not and cannot exist in a vacuum, and we must consider for example, the relationship between literature and the other arts, especially music and painting. This is as rewarding a study as that of the relationship between the literatures of different periods and different countries.

 

Professor Gaither defends this point of view with a number of illustrations, which indicates certain significant connections between literature and the fine arts. In the course of her discussion, Miss Gaither comments on a number of critics who, in the tradition of Lessing Laocoön, consider the several arts in comparison with each other. What we call "literature" is descended from pre-literary forms of expression, when the spoken word constituted virtually the only mode of communication.

 

Reading comprehension skill increases during the process of research. It flings the scholar to the vast field of understanding the philosophy by entrusting themselves with a spirited search. The involvement of the individuals in reading to the find the truth for the accomplished seek out. In grasping the essence of the search, the purpose is fulfilled only when it carries out the course of exploration in a proper manner with commitment and thirst for knowledge. Understanding the basic methods of the principles of literary criticism and critical theory develops in comparative literary studies. Critical view points of many a scholar in the track of research is necessary to develop the thesis which acquires authentication and truth that cannot be drawn without the identification of authoritative say.

 

Appreciation for cultural differences grows, since they are mirrored in social, artistic and literary arty-facts originating in different national and geographical traditions. Going beyond the found data crossing all borders is essential for the research scholar to reach at a conclusion. The involvement in manifold paths of research has the right indication towards the reality that has been hidden.

 

TRANSLATION AND COMPARATIVE OUTLOOK

The theory of translation is processed in comparative study. Translation and transliteration are though different, they give ideas about the core point of hunt on the finding of precision. It sketches in the various ideas from multiple cultures of languages and throws the light towards finding truth from the variety of thought that clicks the decision making a precise one.  The facility of two languages is faced with desire for knowledge that leads the study for the pronouncement of making it with certain truth and applied sciences as technological assistance.

 

Comparative literature is an academic meadow dealing with the literature of two or more different linguistic, cultural or national groups, which is also acted upon works of the same language. Comparative writers exhibit some acquaintance with translation studies, sociology, critical theory, cultural studies, religious studies, and history. As a result, comparative literature programs within universities have designed several departments. The terms "Comparative Literature" and "World Literature" are used to designate a similar course of study and scholarship. Comparative Literature is the widely used term in the United States, with many universities having Comparative Literature departments or Comparative Literature programs.

 

Comparative literature is the study of "literature without borders." Scholarship in Comparative Literature include, for example, studying literacy and social status in the Americas, studying medieval epic and romance, studying the links of literature to folklore and mythology, studying colonial and postcolonial writings in different parts of the world, asking fundamental questions about definitions of literature itself. What scholars in Comparative Literature share is a desire to study literature beyond national boundaries and an interest in languages so that they can read foreign texts in their original form. Many comparitists also share the desire to integrate literary experience with other cultural phenomena such as historical change, philosophical concepts, and social movements.

 

Comparison is the starting point of new knowledge presently. Comparing with the olden technology, new technology with techies arises. If comparison could lead to new knowledge and wider sense of grasping and comprehending, it could not be excluded from the art of learning. Lowry Nelson reflects his thought on comparing it with the mind and the rest:

"Comparative Literature is … the whole study of the whole of literature as far as one’s mind and life can stretch. By its very scope Comparative Literature … is a presumptuous study.”16

 

The code of behavior of comparative literature is well penned by Haun Saussy, Though it has been universally accepted as an art and subject, it was in the beginning suspected and neglected:

“Comparative literature … now the daily currency of coursework, publishing, hiring, and coffee-shop discussion.”17

 

Goethe in France and The Circulation of Ideas in the French Emigration, Enlightening thoughts of Baldensperger with ‘Texte Rousseau’ and ‘The Origins of Literary Cosmopolitanism,’ made the steps confidently to introduce comparative literature to the world of thought. Van Tieghem and Guyard do not discuss or even list the relationship between literature and other areas (art, music, philosophy, politics, etc.). During the many years that the Revue de littérature comparée was directed by Baldensperger and Hazard, its quarterly bibliographies did not recognize this category of topics at all. This policy has remained unchanged under succeeding editors. In contrast, Americans succeeded the French in attempting to offer innumerable courses to have research and modern outlook.

 

THE USAGE OF COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

The usage of Comparative Literature was unknown to many until Roland Greene emerged with his might, and the future shock of it could not have been thought by the beginners:

"Comparative literature is the laboratory or workshop of literary studies, and through them, of the humanities. Comparative literature compares literatures, not only as accumulations of primary works, but as the languages, cultures, histories, traditions, theories, and practices with which those works come."18

 

The First World War had made the crisis of European culture obvious, of course the British nd the French colonies too. The aftermath of the war kindled the fire of nationalism and the comparative learning with full swing. People started writing, capering their own country, culture, language and the modern technology with the other. It led to multiple means of growth in an innumerable approach. Ernst Robert Curtius poses a new technique:

“How do cultures, and the historical entities which are their media, arise, grow, and decay?   Only a comparative morphology of cultures with exact procedures can hope to answer these questions….   A community of great authors throughout the centuries must be maintained if a kingdom of the mind is to exist at all.   But it can only be the community of creative minds.   This is a new kind of selection—a canon if you like, but bound only by the idea of beauty, concerning which we know that its forms change and are renewed."19

 

The comparative thought could lead to the global consciousness. The keener sensitivity towards language, literature, art and culture has most effective way of understanding the humanity through the touch of comparative art.

"A more transnational, interdisciplinary, and responsive humanities is, I believe, poised to emerge. Underscoring the importance of language, literature, and culture, it can help us better explore our past imaginations of the human condition and engage more fully with the wide range of arts and traditions that now imagine the world in such diverse and sometimes surprising ways,”20

 

Descartes thinks more efficiently with the transcending reality of human beings in affiliation to truth, saying:

“To prompt such as humanities, no fields are better suited; it seems to me, than comparative literature and translation. Each is by its very nature transnational and interdisciplinary, and together they suggest a particularly full immersion in the energies of our times. (It is only by way of comparison that we know the truth precisely. . . . All knowledge which is not obtained through the simple and pure intuition of an isolated thing is obtained by the comparison of two or more things among themselves. And almost all the work of human reason consists without doubt in making this operation possible.)”21

 

The importance of reading and learning of different languages and texts play valuable contribution to the study of comparative literature, not excluding to acquire any aspect of learning that is available. This interest can bind together the team of research scholars in to one bundle for the global benefit. Appreciating the art of life and the writings of various languages easily bring forth the required knowledge in the field of comparative literature.

 

The venture into the new search in comparative literature ties together the cosmopolitan community in which national, disciplinary, and linguistic demarcations may become less rigid.

"A rigorous definition of comparative literature should always include the study of texts across languages; this multilingual aspect can only become more crucial to distinguishing comparative literature as national literature departments also develop greater emphases on postcolonial and interdisciplinary studies.”22

 

Steven de Zepetnek crafts the art of comparative literature as discipline and clouds his thoughts with intellectual presentation. Any knowledge of art emerges from a simple concept and develops with a discipline without which it could not sustain. Steven’s words have a core picture to the disciplinary subject, the comparative literature:

“In principle, the discipline of Comparative Literature is in to a method in the study of literature in at least two ways. First, Comparative Literatures means the knowledge of more than one national language and literature, and/or it means the knowledge and application of other disciplines in and for the study of literature and second, Comparative Literature has an ideology of inclusion of the Other, be that a marginal literature in its several meanings of marginality, a genre, various text types, etc. 23

 

Comparative Literature has intrinsically a content and form, which facilitate the cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study of literature and it has a history that substantiated this content and form. Predicated on the borrowing of methods from other disciplines and on the application of the appropriated method to areas of study single-language literary study more often than tends to neglect, the discipline is difficult to define because thus it is fragmented and pluralistic.

 

The discipline of Comparative Literature has scholarly associations such as the ICLA: International Comparative Literature Association and comparative literature associations exist in many countries: for a list of such see BCLA: British Comparative Literature Association; ACLA: American Comparative Literature Association. There are many learned journals that publish scholarship in Comparative Literature. Comparative learning is done according to the individual’s style or method. It arises from all aspects available as primary source. The point in which one differs from the other in the process of research is the self-centered satisfaction one attains. The colourful pavement of secondary sources either guides or misguides the thought or the concept of research. Still, there are precious paths that could be pursued or kept as replica.  Gregory’s words are astonishing:

"Any two texts can be compared, but a comparison works when there is a sufficient basis for comparison; that is, a strong number of similarities, which allow us to isolate particular striking, revealing, informing, epiphany and ultimately untranslatable differences. … These untranslatable differences which are the product of language, culture, history and environment as well as the semi-autonomous evolution of art forms and the talents and experiences of individual artists invariably pronounce themselves in what is called style."24

 

Because of Comparative literature, literature crosses national borders, time-periods, boundaries between literature and the other arts (music, painting, dance, film, etc.), across disciplines (literature and psychology, philosophy, science, history, architecture, sociology, politics, etc.). When comparing Kamaladas with Nissim Ezekiel, both are confessional in nature, commitment, sincerity, integrity. The ego of Nissim Ezekiel echoes in every word of him. The paradoxes he experiences put him to end with spiritual thirst crust. Relilgion is the extract of reality for Nissim.

 

Individual and social elements in comparison lead to the need of it. In the need of comparison, the dedication to find truth and acknowledge the goodness in other creative art or to evaluate the other art in comparison. Dr. Marudhanayaham traces the mission behind the need for comparative literature and disclosed the fact behind it as:

‘The post colonialism has become a great craze with some occidental as well as oriental literary theorists, the present Indian writing in English enjoys being a part of what is commonly known as Post Colonial Literature.’25

 

SUMMATION

The emerge from the colonialism has gathered a mass of creative artists to express their suppression in various forms of art that has produced a non-stop expression. T. S. Eliot’s "complex­ity" and "variety", the two accepted attributes of "our civilization" mark down the comparison as ‘an open podium for the discussion.’

 

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