A History of Literary Criticism by Harry Blamires (auth.)

By Harry Blamires (auth.)

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Likewise divisio, or the presentation of a dilemma, is categorised; and so are effectio, personal description of outward appearance, and notatio, personal description of character. Geoffrey's more general observations on literature are conventional recommendations about appropriateness of style to matter (decorum), consistency of style, restraint in the use of figurative devices, and avoidance of awkward aural effects, strained images, and excessive syntactical complexity. THE MIDDLE AGES 41 He warns against the respective risks in the three kinds of style distinguished by Cicero.

10 Petronius's spokesman goes on to criticise educational practices which cut the young off from real life by concern with melodramatic fictions - 'pirates in chains on the beach, tyrants writing edicts instructing sons to cut off their fathers' heads, oracles ordering that three or more virgins should be sacrificed to remedy a plague, honeyed balls of words, everything that's done or said coated with poppy-seed and sesame'. Petroni us condemns the foolishness of expecting to turn out sensible adults when boys are brought up to this kind of exercise.

H. Atkins has praised John of Salis bury's achievement: first, in an attempt to claim for literature and literary study an essential place in a liberal education; secondly, in efforts made to expound those artistic principles that underlie good writing while also helping in an appreciation of literary values, and thirdly, in illuminating pronouncements on literature in general and on ancient classical literature in particular. 7 John of Salisbury balances together the human faculties of reason and eloquence.

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