Literary Criticism – 01 (Practice Questions & detailed answer)

Q1- Which of the following is TRUE about Longinus (1st c. C.E.)?

1) Like Aristotle and Horace, he concentrates on single elements of a text.

2) We do not need to take account of the ‘intellect’ in our discussions of the sublime

3) He equally emphasizes author, reader and text in his discussion of the sublime.

4) Following Plato, he moves exclusively within the indigenous Greek literary tradition

Q2- In his An Apology for Poetry (1595), Sir Philip Sidney ——–.

1) argues that by moving the mind, poetry, like philosophy, is a teacher of virtue.

2) values history over poetry but contends that the ‘chief passages of best histories’ are essentially poetry

3) maintains that, far from counterfeiting or figuring forth, poetry is mimesis or representing

4) asserts that by engaging the reader’s emotions, poets blend truth with symbolism

Q3- The neoclassical critic Joseph Addison (1672-1719) ————-

1) believed that the aim of literary criticism is not to dissect the writer of genius but to look at what occurs in the interaction of literature and its audience

2) maintained that ancient critics have not (contrary to what his contemporary critics Dryden and Pope held) already said all there is to say, and to write after them is to expand upon and even occasionally modify their past criticism

3) considered morality as the ultimate touchstone for a truly great work of art, and set his literary goal as endeavoring to promote morality even at the expense of wit

4) argued that greatness in literature is not mechanical superiority but the prowess to display the immensity of life in a way that the imagination is able to absorb.

Q4- According to the Russian formalist critic Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), ————-.

1) the truth of the polyphonic novel is an active creation in the consciousness of the reader, allowing genuine surprises even to the creator of the work himself

2) polyphonic novels have a carnival sense of the world, a sense of careful deliberation where voices can be heard each in their own turn only obliquely influencing their hearers

3) the polyphonic nature of the novel implies that there are many truths and that each character speaks and thinks his or her own truth

4) whatever meaning the language of the text possesses, resides in the polyphony of the text itself which is nevertheless ‘ever and inevitably tempered by the intention of the individual reader’

Q5. In his Of Grammatology (1974), the French critic Jacques Derrida best asserts that —————-.

1) writing is directly related to what Saussure believed to be the basic element of language: difference

2) the element of ‘undecidability’ does not hold equally well for all aspects of a written system of communication

3) the meaning of the written word is decided in the interplay between various signifiers pitted against one another

4) writing can, in a final analysis, be reduced to letters or symbols which are ‘inscribed’ on a page

Answers

Q1 – Option 3 (Emphasizing the author (one who must possess a great mind and a great soul), the work itself (a text that must be composed of dignified and elevated diction while simultaneously disposing the reader to high thoughts), and the reader’s response (the reaction of a learned audience in large part determines the value or worth of any given text), Longinus’s critical method foreshadows New Criticism, reader-oriented criticism, and other schools of twentieth-century criticism.)

Q2 – Option 4 (Throughout An Apology for Poetry, Sidney stalwartly defends poetry against those who would view it as a mindless or immoral activity. For Sydney, creative poetry is akin to religion, for both guide and achieve their purpose by stirring the emotions of the reader. The poet, says Sydney, not only affirms morality, but by engaging the reader’s emotions, blends truth with symbolism, “delighting every sense and faculty of the whole being.”)

Q3 – Option 1 (The aim of the literary critic, attests Addison, is not to dissect the writer of genius, but to look at what occurs in the interaction of literature and its audience. Our curiosity, says Addison, is one of the strongest and most lasting appetites implanted in us.)

Q4 – Option 3 (For Bakhtin, the polyphonic nature of the novel implies that there are many truths, not just one, and that each character speaks and thinks his or her own truth. Although one truth may be preferred to others by a character, a reader, or the author, no truth is particularly certain.)

Q5 – Option 1 (Derrida asserts that we broaden our understanding of writing. Writing, he declares, cannot be reduced to letters or other symbols inscribed on a page. Rather, it is directly related to what Saussure believed to be the basic element of language: difference.)

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