The chapter juxtaposes Veselovsky’s theory of the persistence of forms with the set of critical practices known as New Historicism, and shows that both approaches exclude the possibility of new forms arising. The chapter suggests that both the oblivion of an old form and the rise of the new result from a fundamental shift in perception that occurs within the order of verbal creativity and does not lend itself to a historical-deterministic explanation.
The compilation is dedicated to the poetics of Cervantes and to the transformations of the characters of his books in the prose of other authors worldwide.
Historical Poetics, while in many ways an ally of Formalism, finds itself in an uneasy relationship with the empiricist mode of formalist enquiry, inasmuch as the latter is seen as generally inimical to historical contextualization. On the other hand, representatives of both Historical Poetics and of the morphological method have at different points been accused of favoring atomizing analysis over aesthetic appreciation. Ironically, this putative inability to grasp the work of art as a totality is a taint that literary theory inherited from nineteenth-century philology whose mission was precisely to combine historicization with minute attention to details of verbal texture. By emphasizing their shared philological patrimony, the article argues for a reconciliation between the morphological method and Historical Poetics. An energetic theory of literary forms, which detects historical vitality in distinct elements revealed by morphological analysis, has important precedents in Alexander Veselovsky’s theory of motif and Mikhail Bakhtin’s concepts of architectonics and the chronotope.
The article puts forward a novel approach to the history of poetic forms in Archaic Greece. By investigating the evolution of the “diegetic frames” involving the figure of the Muse(s), it seeks to trace mutual influences between different genres (Homeric epic, catalogue poetry, the Homeric Hymns, early choral lyric) and, in the case of the Iliad and Hesiod’s Theogony, to identify distinct strata in the composition of one text. This genealogical analysis of the invocation of the Muses demonstrates that choral lyric had a significant impact on the evolving forms of hexameter poetry.