Alexander A. Potebnja's Psycholinguistic Theory of Literature: A Metacritical Inquiry by John FizerAlexander A. Potebnja's Psycholinguistic Theory of Literature: A Metacritical Inquiry by John Fizer

Alexander A. Potebnja's Psycholinguistic Theory of Literature: A Metacritical Inquiry

byJohn Fizer

Hardcover | June 20, 1988

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The work of Alexander A. Potebnja, a leading Ukrainian linguist of the nineteenth century, has significantly influenced modern literary criticism, particularly Russian formalism and structuralism. Potebnja's theory, known as potebnjanstvo (Potebnjanism), flourished in the Russian Empire and in the Soviet Union during the 1920s. It attracted scores of adherents and gave rise to an influential literary journal and a formal critical school at Kharkiv. Yet despite his remarkable achievements in linguistics and literary theory, Potebnja's work was officially renounced in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and in the West he remains virtually unknown.

In his study, John Fizer carefully reconstructs Potebnja's theory of literature from the psycholinguistic formulations found in his works on language, mythology, and folklore. Elaborating Potebnja's concept of internal form, energeia, polysemy, and the semiosis of poetic discourse, Fizer develops the central tenets of Potebnja's theory with regard to their philosophical, psychological, and linguistic bases. Largely influenced by Kant and by Humboldt's philosophy of language, Potebnja conceived of language and the verbal arts as coterminous phenomena. He identified the internal form with the etymon of the word, which he considered the preeminent locus in the structure of poetic art. He insisted on the dynamic role of the Self in poetic creation and perception but, unlike many of his contemporaries, he believed that the diachronic depth of the signifiers was ethnic and had measureable limits. According to Potebnja, this depth (or internal form) reveals itself as a semantically multivalent image that induces self-knowledge and transforms the primary data of consciousness into syntagmatic wholes.

A great deal of Potebnja's theory shares similarities with the work of Benedetto Croce, Leo Spitzer, and Charles S. Pierce. It anticipated modern literary criticism, and, as the author convincingly argues, retains existential and epistemological cogency even today. Fizer's volume offers the first thorough study of Potebnja's literary theory, and his insightful analysis restores Potebnja to his rightful place in the history of literary criticism.

Title:Alexander A. Potebnja's Psycholinguistic Theory of Literature: A Metacritical InquiryFormat:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 9.41 × 7.24 × 0.7 inPublished:June 20, 1988Publisher:Harvard

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0916458164

ISBN - 13:9780916458164

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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

1. The Essential Being of the Work of Poetic Art

Epistemological Constraints

The Work of Poetic Art as Activity

The Work of Poetic Art as Narration

The Work of Poetic Art as Teleologically Charged Form

The Word as an Analogue of the Work of Poetic Art

The Conceptual Ambivalence of Potebnja's Ontology

Conclusion

2. The Structure of the Work of Poetic Art

Structural Affinities between Language and the Work of Poetic Art

Structural Constituents of the Work of Poetic Art

The External Form

The Internal Form

The Content

Conclusion

3. The Modality of Poetic Forms

Immanent Forms

Intentional Forms

The Fable

The Proverb

Fable and Proverb as Exempla of the Work of Poetic Art in General

Conclusion

4. Functional Determination of the Work of Poetic Art

The Teleology of Poetic Images

Cognitive Function

Expressive Function

Auxiliary Functions

Criticism as a Mode of Cognition

Conclusion

5. Potebnja's Theory: Axiomatic System or a Set of Observational Propositions

Potebnja versus Potebnjanism

Potebnja and the Symbolists

The Formalist Response to Potebnja's Theory

Potebnja and the Vagaries of Soviet Ideology

Conclusion

Bibliography

Index