CLEANTH BROOKS QUESTIONS

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Assigned: "The Heresy of Paraphrase" from The Well Wrought Urn (1353-65).

"The Heresy of Paraphrase"

1. What becomes of the poem, according to Brooks, unless we assert "the primacy of the pattern"? What does he say that this pattern or structure is not? By what is this structure "conditioned"? What indeed is the "structure meant"?

2. How does Brooks describe "the principle of unity" which "informs" this structure? What sorts of things does it unite? What sort of unity is achieved?

3. From what formula do most of the "common heresies" about poetry derive? What are the two "horns of the dilemma" that this formula leads to?

4. What happens if we try to incorporate the meaning of the poem in a statement? What happens to our statement, or proposition, "as it approaches adequacy"?

5. What do the phrases "so wore night" and "thus night passed" have in common, and what do they not have in common?

6. What are some of the consequences of allowing ourselves to be misled by "the heresy of paraphrase"?

7. What three analogies does Brooks offer for "the essential structure of a poem"? What is the point of each analogy?

8. In what does "the characteristic unity" of a poem lie? What is the "conclusion" of the poem? By what kind of process is the unity of the poem achieved?

9. Why don't the "meanderings of a good poem" have to be excused? What is the point of its "apparent irrelevancies"?

10. What is the difference between the "terms of science" and the "terms of a poem"? What is the difference between the words of the "ideal language" and words as poets use them?

11. What is there about the poet's task that has "induced poet after poet to choose ambiguity and paradox"?

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN: 0393974294.