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November 17, 1957 - Image 17

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-Sunday, November 17, 1957


pnn :S ana

Sage eventeen
F. L. LUCAS: 'Literature & Psychology'


(Continued from Page T) These are ugly names for ugly
discusses poetic justice, popular things, yet none of us is with-
out traces of both. The fault of
legends and romance. We often teRmnislyi rwn
think of poetic justice as mani- the Romantics lay in growing
Jesting itself only in tragedy, yet too obsessed by them.
an Indian doctor who threw over rj7gEgE I A difficulty in know-
his former standards when comi 1 iuhf we A d t gn kow-
-to Vienna developed a skin rash me how far we are to go, how
as self punishment. Conscience, we can serve what Lucas calls both
evidently, comes upon us unknown, Apollo and Dionysus - self-mas-
and certainly when we least ex- tery and self-abandonment. Since
pect it. we are still living in the Romantic
world, though it is "Romanticism
in decay" of which Surrealism is
IN THE AREA of legend and the prime example, it is impera-
myth, Laucas points out how tive that we quickly find a solu-
Narcissus has passed into p tion to the Apollo-Dionysus con-
choanalytic jargon, and how fit-fct. For the Maenads had no
ting it was that, for a mistress atom-bomb."
the Greeks gave him Echo-the In the second section, Lucas
sound of his own voice. tackles problems of judgement. It
Lud dhies w mavoics , is somewhat surprising, in view of
Lucas decries romanticism, in his earlier moralistic writing, to
the several chapters he devotes to find that he holds the popular
that movement, mainly on grounds emotivist view of aesthetics: good
that it is an expression of primi- means "I like it;" all beauty is
tive impulses, or the id. Although relative. He takes great pains to
he is in general sympathy- with prove this point, though the case
what Romanticim started out to has been stated and restated since
be-freedom from the stifling cog- the pre-Socratic philosophers. Ac-
ularity of the so-Classic age-he cording to this view, the critic be-
notes that it soon developed ten- comes a kind of guide and, to
denies which he is later to call use Lucas' word, advocate; the
"unhealthy." reader is still the final judge.
Many Romantic writers were
victims of neurotic strain, unable BECAUSE HE IS mainly con-
to face the responsibilities of adult cerned with moral values, how-
life, so they threw off the shackles ever, Lucas cannot stop there. For
and declared that there was no him, everything may be relative,
responsibility. Drawing examples hut not everything is permitted.
from French and English litera- - -
ture, he cites Blake, Rousseau,.
Chateaubriand, Wordsworth, By-
ron, Lamartine, Hugo, Vigny and
Musset. As Romanticism pro-
gressed, "writers made daisy
chains of les fleurs du mal."
There is no question of con-
demning Romantic art simply
because, like much medieval re-
ligion, it found inspiration at
times in sadism and masochism.
(Continued from Page 6)
CRITICS of Cople's Catullus
may question the fitness of
modeling the diction of some of
the shorter poems after E. E. Cum-
mings' language. The distortion of
word-order this style permits en-
ables Copley to bring forth Latin
features which would otherwise go
unrevealed. For example,
your speechless (and to what
end) ashes to address
4or Catullus'
et mutam nequiquam adlo-
querer cingrem
in poem 101, is, I think, an especi-
ally rich rendering. But Cum-
mingsesque sentimentality should
not have been allowed, on the
other hand, to turn
novem continuas fututiones
(poem 32)
Into a mere
nine times to feel the pulse of
In the group of long poems,
numbers 61 through 68, Copley
performs his pieces-de-resistance,
as in the epyllion (64) on the wed-
ding of Peleus and Thetis; here,
through four-hundred and eight
lines of blank verse, he manages tol
translate the long Latin hexa-
meters with near line-per-line
parallel correspondence. There are
lines here one can remember, and
not always solely because of what
they felicitously translate: (64)
This maid at dawning light
will show her nurse
that yesterday's fillet can-
not span her neck
(whirl spinning the yarns,
you spindles, whirl)
or this unusual Homeric simile
-from poem 61;
You must not think that what
you said to me
was thrown to the winds or
slipped out of my heart
like a lover's apple, gift in
secret sent,
which falls out from a virgins

bosom chaste
(poor thing! she hid it therecpes of ski
and then forgot.) ICrSO k
Her mother comes, she leaps slim walkers,
up, out it pops si akr
and drops and slides down, to 18.
down, and rolls away,
tears start; a guilty blush
creeps up her face.

Aside from art's "pleasure-value," 'subtill games,' of 'Arts and ex-
there is also "influence-value." ercise;' are we so sure that they
To demonstrate this, he launches too did not contribute to the
a perceptive discussion of the Art rise of Hitler and the baseness
for Art's Sake movement; for him, of English 'appeasement' and
its nineteenth century advocates the fall of France? When we re-
were unable to prove that art is call the cynical sneerings of the
unassociated with ethics. They are 'twenties, the sadistic notalgia
engaging neurotics, but the fas- for savagery in D. H. Lawrence,
cination we may have for them is the egomania of Joyce, the
an unhealthy one. hankerings of 'intellectuals'
But some exponents of Art With after medieval obscurantism, or
a Purpose are unpleasing to him the 'tragic beauty' of bullfights,
also. He is, as it is evidently fash- the anarchism of Surrealists, the
ionable to be, anti-Plato, and his calculated squalor of Celine,
discussion of that philosopher is even the exquisitely intelligent
stimulating, if infuriating. Plato decadence of Proust-is it so
was a "neurotic genius" whose idea hard to read here the omens of
of Absolute Beauty has become "a what was to come?
sort of Alabaster Lady on a cloud." For an anti-Platonist, this comes
With his coming, there falls dangerously close to grounds for
already the first cold shadow of tossing the poet out of The Re°-
the Middle Ages, with their sense public. Though Lucas maintains
of sin, their Inquisitions, and that he and Plato are tempera-
their Infernos. mentally incompatible, both men
And again: are severely troubled about the
Better a jungle (of Romanti- moral effect of art on men. Plato
cism) than a concentration shrugs and says "Get rid of the
camp (of The Republic). artist;" Lucas is unable to bring
himself to that decision. Instead,
FOR THOSE who have read The it is the critic's function to pass
Republic's tenth book and felt moral, as well as interpretive,
that it was one of the greatest judgement on a work of art, using
compliments that could be paid ethical standards gleaned "from
literature, Lucas' view seems un- the experience of the race in its
necessarily harsh: It seems even struggle to survive."
more -so in tht light of his own
statement in the chapter on value: IN SOME RESPECTS, Literature
We have seen in the last thirty and Psychology is a cranky
years plenty of 'novelties,' of book. Statements like:

There are, indeed, persons of
irritable temperament who find
a fierce pleasure in iconoclasm
in trying to destroy the repu-
tation, say, of Milton or Tenny-
son or Arnold or Meredith.
seem nbt too unjust until one
reads the parenthetical remark
which follows:
(Sometimes these people are
really searching among authors
for hated father-substitutes.)
FORTUNATELY for the general
effectiveness of his book, it is
not often that Lucas pursues such
notions. On the. contrary, most of
the work is full of refreshing good
sense. It is beautifully written,
often quite funny and always,
even when enraging, a thoroughly
stimulating and challenging vol-
ume. In suggesting that the best
artists - Sophocles, Chaucer,
Shakespeare-were men who knew
about human beings and were
themselves not afraid of a full
life, Lucas has made a strong case
for involvement with, rather than
retreat from, life. And, it seems to
me, he has performed a valuable
service in asserting something that
has been generally forgotten: that
art is not above morality; that, on
the contrary, the sanity of mor-
ality is something of which we are
desperately in need.

M a .____ ___ _ _ _ _._ __ __ .._____. ®_ ._ ___ ____ _ _._


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