Paper No. 6 Literary Criticism
“Four Kinds of Meaning” ()
I.A. Richards (1893-1979)
Q:- Four kind of meaning
Ivor Armstrong Richards, together with Eliot, is the most influential critic in the twentieth century Anglo-American criticism. Among the moderns he is the only critic who has formulated a systematic and complete theory of the literary art. In the words of George Watson,
"Richards' claim to have pioneered Anglo-American New Criticism of the thirties and forties is unassailable. He provided the theoretical foundations on which the technique of verbal analysis was built. "
He and T.S. Eliot are pioneers in the field of new criticism. Richards is often compared with Coleridge. Like Coleridge he is am of wide learning. He is widely read not only in literature, but also in philosophy, psychology, aesthetic , the fine arts and the broad principles of the various sciences.
v His critical Works:-
I.A. Richard’s reputation as a critic lies on a limited number of critical books he wrote. The relevance of psychology to literary studies emerges clearly in his first book, The Foundations of Aesthetics (1922), written in collaboration with his two friends. In this book the authors have tried to define 'beauty' by studying its effects on the readers. His second book, The Meaning of Meaning (1923) was written with Ogden; it distinguished between the symbolic use of language in science and its emotive use in poetry. In The Principles of Literary Criticism (1924), Richards alone explains his psychological theory of value and explores the emotive language of poetry. The work is a landmark in the history of literary criticism and even since verbal and textual analysis, interpretation and evaluation of the basis of literary appreciation. Therefore I.A. Richards and T.S. Eliot are called the founding father of New Criticism.
v an advocate of a close textual and verbal study
A study of Richards's a staunch advocate of a close textual Practical Criticism; A Study of Literary Judgment reveals that Richards is a staunch advocate of a close textual and verbal study and analysis of a work of art. Similar interest in the study of words is revealed in his book, Meaning of Meaning. Total meaning of a poem is combination of several contributory meanings of four different types—
1. Sense, 2. Feeling, 3. Tone, and 4. Intention.
Sense means plain literal meaning. Words which communicate something which gives plain literary menacing without communication any hidden or under layer meaning.
Feeling refers to emotions emotional attitudes, will, desire, pleasure, unpleasure, and the rest. When we say something, we have feeling about it, “An attitude towards it some special direction bias or accentuation of interest it, some personal flaour or colouring of feeling.
Words express ‘these feelings and these nuances of interest.
By tone is meant the writer’s attitude to his reader. The write chooses his words and arranges them keeping in mind the kind of readers likely to read his work. There is a relation between the writer and his reader and the tone reflects the awareness of this relation.
Feeling is only a stat of the mind. It does not imply an object. But intention has an object. Intention is the writer’s aim which may be conscious or unconscious. It refers to the effect one tries to produce. This purpose modifies the expression. It controls the emphasis shapes the arrangement to draws attention to something of importance
According to Richards “Originally language may have been almost pure emotion that is to say
1. A means of expression feelings about situation.
2. A means of expressing impersonal attitudes
3. A means of bringing about concerted action.
v The context:-
Words also acquire a rich associative value through their use by different poets in different contexts. The context in which a word has been used is all important. "Words have different meanings in different contexts. Words are symbols or signs and they deliver their full meaning only in a particular context. They work in association and within a particular context. He writes : "A context is a set of entities (things or events) related in a certain way; these entities have each a character…; “
Meaning is dependent on context, but the context may not always be apparent and easily perceptible. Literary compositions are characterized by rich complexity in which certain links are suppressed for concentration or effective and forceful expression. Frequent mention is therefore made of the 'missing context' and 'ambiguity.' In ordinary blemishes in writing, but in poetry or even in artistic prose they are a source of embellishment and a means of effective communication of meaning. The literary critic is expected to understand and expand the context so that the poem may become intelligible and its full value may be grasped.
Relation between ‘Sense’ and ‘Feeling’:-
Words have different meanings in different contexts. Sense and feeling have a mutual dependence. "The sound of a word has much to do with the feeling it evokes."
1. First, it may arise from the meaning and be governed by it. The feeling is the result of grasping the meaning.
2. Secondly, the meaning arises from the feeling evoked. Thus the word 'gorgeous' first generates a feeling from its sound.
3. Thirdly, sense and feeling may be related because of the context. A complete poem can influence a single word or phrase contained in it either through the feelings or through the sense. The feelings already occupying the mind limit the possibilities of the new words. This is because words are ambiguous in themselves and they acquire new meanings when they are charged with feelings.
Hence Richards argues that we need one careful reading to find the meaning and another to grasp the feeling.
v Rhythm and Metre:-
The meaning of words is also determined by rhythm and metre. Rhythm results from the repetition of particular sounds and the expectancy this repetition arouses in the mind. Metre is a specialised form of rhythm. It is rhythm made more regular and cast into set and well-formed pattern. Both rhythm and metre are organic and integral parts of a poem, for they both determine the meaning of the words used by the poets. Richards' remarks in this connection are interesting and deserve to be quoted in their entirety
“ Rhythm, metre and meaning cannot be separated; they form together a single system. They are not separate entities but organically related. Therefore, a paraphrase or an over literal reading can never convey the total meaning of a poem.”
Successive readings are necessary to understand the poetic meaning. Poetic truth is different from scientific truth. It is a matter of emotional belief rather than intellectual belief. It is not a matter of versification, but of attitude and emotional reaction.
For the purpose of communication, the use of metaphoric language is all important.
"A metaphor is a shift, a carrying over of a word from its normal use to a new use".
Metaphors may be of two kinds : (I) sense-metaphors, and (2) emotive-metaphors. In a sense-metaphor the shift is due to a similarity or analogy between the original object and the new one. In an emotive metaphor the shift is due to a similarity between the feelings the new situation and the normal situation arouse. The same word in different contexts may be a sense-metaphor or an emotive one.
I. A. Richards stresses on close textual and verbal study of a poem. His study of words as means of communication and his stress on their four-fold meaning and on the way in which meaning is determined by rhythm and meter are original and striking gone a long way towards shaping the course of literary criticism in the 20th century. His critical methods, verbal and structural analysis, interpretation and evaluation a work of arts starred the vogue of experimentation and analysis in literary criticism.