Criticism exam delusion

I have criticism mid-term tomorrow. We are taking New Criticism theory, presented in Cleanth Brook’s essay “The Language of Paradox”.

This is not my first criticism course, but this course seems different.

In his essay, Brooks offers his theory through variety of examples. He lists many poems by different poets belonging to different schools of poetry. What Brooks wants to reach is that all these poems support his theory.

Now, what is his theory?

Brooks theory basically states that the language of poetry is built on paradox. Poetry derives its power and unity from paradox.

For Brooks, paradox gives precession and uniformity to the poem.

He provide the example of the metaphysical poet John Donne’s “The Canonization” in which he points out that without paradox, the poem will end up being a presentation of scientific facts. Furthermore, paradox allows Donne to present his ideas in a more precise manner.

For those of you who have no idea what is paradox;

Paradox is a statement that contradicts itself.

” `I always lie’  is a paradox because if it is true it must be false”


Similarly, paradox in literature is

an anomalous juxtaposition of different ideas for the sake of striking description or unexpected insight.

Statements such as Wilde’s “I can resist anything except temptation” is an example of paradox in literature.


Ashtray with No Smoking sign!!!

Right now I am trying to work out why is paradox such a big deal for Brooks? Why is it the modern critics main concern? 😐

I think that paradox was there from the birth of literature, but it was not acknowledged until later. Brooks, I believe, has revolutionized the paradox meaning and its importance for poetry. As Brooks says, poetry is complex, therefore a method is needed to present it, with its multifaceted themes revealed through its artistic structure. Paradox, as a result, made it easier for the poet to collect all his thoughts in a manner that is both enjoyable and instructive.


2 thoughts on “Criticism exam delusion

  1. Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooow Jehan

    What a brilliant post….

    I am speechless I looooooooove your post <

    Regarding the essay I loved it so much =D Brooks had presented a very valuable idea by noticing that poetry without paradox is nothing and that's totally true
    I loved when he quote Jogn donne's poem it was one of the best poem because it is rich with paradoxes…..

    And I believe that paradox is essential and powerful tool not only in poetry but also in life in general

    So, that's why Brooks wanted poetry to has this power

    Anyway, I lovvvvvvvvvved your examples =D the ashtray
    and Wilde's quote I loooove this epigram really =D
    and that's why not only me but lot of critics loved Wilde's writing because he use lots of epigrams =D

    and such epigram makes the work funnier, smarter and interesting

    Good luck sweetie in your exam
    & I am really impressed by your ideas and your post and how you are examining everything I loooooooove that masha Allah you are so clever and like to question everything 😉 I like that =D

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