Is the coding objective or subjective
Subjective and objective - principles and values of literary judgment
II. History of literary criticism
III. The literary value judgment
IV. Criteria of literary evaluation
V. The Literary Review
"I demanded a standard of judgment, and believed I became aware that nobody possessed it." (Kienecker 1989, 9)
This saying of Goethe describes the opinion shared by many that one cannot establish any binding principles for the assessment of literary works. Literary critics have always argued about which criteria should be used in literary evaluations. There is an extraordinarily large number of evaluation standpoints that can sometimes be very confusing for those interested in literature. In spite of this, criteria for literary evaluation have emerged which, due to the frequency with which they appear in reviews, can be regarded as important and valid. In this paper I would like to illustrate how the conception of literary valuation has changed through the various epochs and which criteria are most frequently consulted in literary criticism today. I would also like to show to what extent one can speak of objectivity and to what extent of subjectivity in literary value judgments. Furthermore, I will give an insight into the different forms of reviews.
II. History of literary criticism
From antiquity to the Renaissance and Baroque, it was believed that universal and objective standards could be used to determine what good poetry was (Degenhardt 1985, 149). The emergence of an institutionalized literary criticism, which constantly accompanies literary production, took place at the beginning of the 18th century (Kienecker 1989, 12). In earlier times, the justification of poetics (criticisms) was made by appealing to authorities (especially Aristotle), whereas in the Enlightenment, reason was used as the authority to justify rules for literary evaluation (Kienecker 1989, 13). These rules were interpreted as general laws of nature that should make a general evaluation of literature possible. This led to little possibilities of changing literary forms, since literature that violated the 'natural law rules' was necessarily devalued (Kienecker 1989, 15). New works of art, which violated the 'rules of art' but made a great impression, raised the question of the legitimation of the Enlightenment norms for literary valuation. That is why a new way of looking at things came up, namely that one had to question one's own perception first. Then the literary object is analyzed and finally the reasons are listed which led to the positive sensation (Kienecker 1989, 15). Thus the "aesthetic dogmatism" (Kienecker 1989, 16) of the Enlightenment was overcome - now, however, there was a threat of an extraordinary subjectification of criticism and evaluation by critics of Sturm und Drang, who only looked at the genius of the poet without their judgments from the nature of the Justify the text. In Romanticism, both extremes, that of the Enlightenment criticism of rules and that of the subjectivity of Sturm und Drang, could then be overcome (Kienecker 1989, 19). The idea of romantic criticism was to recognize the intention of a piece and to measure it against its own standards (Kienecker 1989, 18). Contrary to the romantic understanding, Young Germany had a different conception (Kienecker 1989, 19). Literary criticism should also be criticism of the times, that is, the criticism should pay attention to whether literature adequately expresses the 'zeitgeist' (Kienecker 1989, 19). The beginning of the 1920s is generally seen as the starting point for the valuation discussion. Literary studies wanted to achieve an objectivity of literary evaluation, which should come about through compelling principles of evaluation (Kienecker 1989, 21). To this day there has been a dispute about which criteria should be used in literary evaluation and whether there are criteria that are generally valid.
III. The literary value judgment
"Every literary judgment is determined subjectively and objectively" (Degenhardt 1985, 42).
This quote from Leonhard Beriger indicates that the long-running dispute as to whether literary criticism is or should be objective or subjective may have a middle ground. First of all, Beriger assumes that the personality of the critic is responsible for the partial subjectivity of the judgment (Degenhardt 1985, 42). Norbert Mecklenburg also includes the location, the horizon and the perspective of the reviewer (Degenhardt 1985, 144). The objective part of a review consists of studies such as language, symbolism, atmosphere, material, form, genre, etc. (Degenhardt 1985, 42).
Günter Waldmann has the following idea of literary evaluation possibilities for literary evaluation. For him, a text is a communication system that sends a coded message to the recipient, i.e. the reader, on a specific communication channel, which the recipient receives by decoding it (Degenhardt 1985, 115). For him, the possibility of evaluating literary values results from the relationship of the recipient to the message and the coding: Does the message affect the recipient? Is it relevant or irrelevant? Is the message encoded appropriately for the recipient's ability to decode, so is the jargon understandable for the reader? Is the coding of the message to be transmitted appropriate? (Degenhardt 1985, 115). For him, an examination of the coding means checking whether the thematic subject is useful for conveying the particular (e.g. satirical, humorous, idyllic, critical, etc.) message and whether the selected genre is useful for conveying the message ( Degenhardt 1985, 117).
A distinction is made between three types of literary value judgments, which differ due to the different starting points of the critic. Of course, there is always some overlap in practice. The three types of value judgments are appetite, performance, and acceptance judgments.
The Appetence judgment has its starting point in personal liking for the assessed text (subjective implicate) (Kienecker 1989, 72). In most cases, this personal feeling is explained by text properties (objective implicate), which raises the claim to general validity (Kienecker 1989, 72).
A Performance judgment is awarded on the basis of what is considered to be a verifiable fact of the author's performance or ability (objective implication) (Kienecker 1989, 74). The judgment becomes subjective by expressing admiration or respect for this achievement. A verifiably successful text does not necessarily have to please the critic, which is why the judgment can praise how skilfully the text was written and at the same time it can be said that the critic does not particularly like the text (Kienecker 1989, 74).
The Acceptance judgment praises a text for its outstanding position within its literary genre (Kienecker 1989, 76). General criteria are used (objective implicate) and personal acceptance is expressed (subjective implicate) (Kienecker 1989, 76). In the case of an acceptance judgment, it is entirely possible that the critic does not like the genre within which the assessed text is very good at all and is only impressed by the extraordinary nature of the text within this genre.
IV. Criteria of literary evaluation
As mentioned before, there is a discussion among literary scholars about the criteria of literary evaluation. The opinion that literary value judgments are always subjectively unfounded is opposed to the opinion that there are indeed objective criteria for literary value judgments (Kienecker 1989). The different understandings of literary valuation over the centuries underscores the fact that people were and are quite divided about what constitutes good literature.
Be that as it may, the statistics show that certain criteria are repeatedly used for literary evaluation. I would now like to mention some of these criteria using the example of the criticism of novels and poetry.
In the field of Novel review literary value judgments are often made on the basis of criteria such as the reader's participation in the novel or sympathy for the hero (Kienecker 1989, 124). In addition, evaluation is often based on the evocation of shock, emotion and emotion (Kienecker 1989, 124). Furthermore, the positive term 'tension' occurs frequently (Kienecker 1989, 124). When it comes to criticizing a novel, the rule is that the text should shake and move, but not leave the reader in a resigned mood (Kienecker 1989, 129). So in most cases, a positive ending goes down well with the novelists.
In the Poetry criticism there are also criteria that are often used for a literary evaluation. For many critics, 'affective efficiency' plays a major role in a good poem, i.e. the successful triggering of sensations in the reader (Kienecker 1989, 147). A statement from criterion belonging to this criterion reads, for example, "The reader is drawn into the text" (Kienecker 1989, 147). The poet's perceptible emotional expression is rated positively (Kienecker 1989, 148). Another criterion is the successful combination of the truth of the message of the poem and the beauty of the content, and / or the form and language of the lyric text (Kienecker 1989, 151). If the poet is also able to provide the facts and inner states expressed in the poem with the perfect vocabulary (Kienecker 1989, 161), which is what matters most in a good poem, his poem is certain to have a positive evaluation.
V. The Literary Review
A 'literary review' is initially a critical discussion and assessment of a literary work, usually a book. The word review comes from Latin and means 'pattern'. If a good judgment is made, the review should encourage the reader of the review to read the book. Therefore, bibliographical information such as the title of the book, information on the author, publisher, place and year of publication, as well as the size and price, are important (Schmalz). Descriptive, analyzing and judgmental sentences interact in a review. The reader of the review would like to know something about the content of the book, he would like to know what the message of the book is and how well this statement is received by the reader of the book. It is the task of a review, especially those in newspapers, to whet the appetite for reading the reviewed book. The content should be given roughly. In order not to anticipate exciting actions in the book, the content can be presented in abbreviated form. The reviewer should describe and evaluate the statement of the book and of course say how well this statement was written "coded". Furthermore, the reader of the review should be informed about the skillful or not so skillful use of stylistic devices in the book. As in III. explained, the review should contain information about language, atmosphere, symbolism, etc. In the case of reviews that are printed in newspapers, a purchase recommendation is customary, unless it is justified. A prerequisite for a good review is that the reviewer deals intensively with the literary object to be evaluated, which includes an intensive reading of the book to be evaluated as well as any secondary related literature. He will not be able to avoid interpreting the book in order to then describe and evaluate what has been interpreted. It is also important that the reviewer's judgment about the book is well founded so that the reader can get a better picture.
As a text genre, the review is very flexible and can be freely designed (Schmalz). Their linguistic design mostly depends on the potential readers of the review; a review for a science magazine is likely to have more technical jargon than a book review in the daily newspaper. However, the text should always be fluid and legible (Schmalz).
There are several types of reviews. The first that I want to address is this Brief review. It has a length of around 30 lines (Schmalz) and is mostly intended to provide a brief overview of the content, meaning and whether a book might be worth reading for those interested in literature.
The detailed review differs in scope from the short review, it can comprise several pages (Schmalz). Usually it goes into the subject and message of the rated book as well as objective text features more intensively.
The Collective review reviews several books. One possibility for this is to create, for example, thematic comparison categories, which the reviewer uses to review several books (Schmalz). There are two ways of doing this: Either each book is presented individually using the comparison categories or the categories are applied to all books at the same time (Schmalz). Another type of collective review is the successive comparison. In this process, each book is first assessed individually and then all books are compared with one another and assessed (Schmalz).
Is literary appraisal of value or not? Are literary reviews really just subjective, unfounded and therefore worthless judgments, as some claim? I do not think so. First of all, in case of doubt, performance and acceptance judgments can be of greater value to the reader of a review than mainly subjectively justified. But why is there this disagreement about literary values? Are we expecting too much from a review? Some expect literary evaluation to make generally valid judgments according to fixed principles, rules and norms. Where does this desire come from? Why should there actually be binding criteria that say what is good art and what is bad? The literary evaluation will always, at least in part, remain subjective. It is a subjective statement that a poet uses the best vocabulary he could have used. Whether a text fulfills a specified objective criterion, no matter how correct, is also assessed subjectively. People's opinions will always differ. The nice thing about the literary rating is that each reviewer chooses a different approach to the review, each has very specific criteria important, and each loves or doesn't love art in a different way. A review of a literary work, just like an exuberant praise, they both seem extremely subjective. But what do we care? A review cannot decide for us whether a literary work is worth reading or not. We cannot expect literary appraisal to tell us what is good literature and what is bad literature. No, if literary evaluation is good, then it is not a judge of literature, but an expert who, at best, sharpens our senses for what is important in good literature. If literary evaluation is good, then objectivity and subjectivity interact so well in it that every reader of a book knows exactly what good literature is for him or her.
to: "Novelle" by Goethe
Book title: Novelle / Das Märchen
published: Ditzingen: Reclam, 1997.
Reading a literary work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe presupposes a few things. First of all, you have to prepare yourself mentally for the fact that everything you have read in contemporary literature so far cannot be remotely compared with what Goethe puts on paper. One has a good deal of respect for the work of this "genius", which Goethe, one believes many critics, is. So you take a deep breath, drink another glass of water and then off you go. "Even in the morning a thick autumn fog covered the wide rooms of the princely palace courtyard, ...", so it begins. You breathe a little more easily. The beginning isn't that bad after all, you think. You read on. After the second page you stop. You need another glass of water. You think about it. What was I actually reading there, one wonders. So all over again. Word by word. The content becomes clearer. Aha, you think, now I understand. It's really easy. You read on. A passage in the text makes you stumble. You understand what is written there. It is obviously German. But what does the author mean? What is he talking about? You think about it. And considered. Then you pick up a book about Goethe. When did he live again, Goethe? In which epoch was the novella written? One finds knowledge. Aha, you think again. Great. What Goethe might mean when he tells, one begins to suspect. So you read on. The text is criss-crossed with text passages that you don't understand properly at first, but skip over them to finally find out what the book is about. There are several references to the Bible.Some things seem familiar. You read on in the book. I've read that before, you think. You turn the page. And indeed. A few pages ago the same thing was already written, just circumscribed a little differently, expressed by another person, for example. Man, you really have to be careful like a lynx if you want to hear everything that is in the novel. Yet it is so short.
The novella naturally also has a content. She tells of a day in the life of a royal family. At dawn the horses are saddled, the prince sets out to hunt, his beautiful wife is supposed to spend the day with the prince's uncle. He shows her the beautiful sketches of the ancestral castle and its ruins, which should be accessible again and prepared to commemorate the past. The princess feels like inspecting the family castle and leaves with her uncle and Honorio, the junker. There is a big fair in town right now, and because the weather is so great, the princess would like to go there. She sees gruesome images of wild animals in the form of posters that represent a market attraction. The ride continues in the direction of the castle ruins. Suddenly they see smoke, a fire seems to have broken out in the market. The uncle rides back towards the city, Honorio and the princess follow him more slowly. Suddenly a tiger appears in front of them. Honorio shoots, but misses. He asks the princess to flee and Honorio chases the tiger, which in turn chases after the princess. The princess falls from her horse and sees the tiger approaching when Honorio knightly skillfully knocks the tiger down. He would now like to give her the tiger's fur as a token of his admiration, but the princess refuses. A relatively exciting moment in the play takes place when Honorio stays on his knees contrary to the request of the princess, which is the usual position of a lover in the 18th century. What will happen now? The impossible? Does he confess his love to her? The two have thrown an eye on each other, they are both incredibly beautiful, as the reader learns several times. But it turns out differently. He and she know that the boundaries of class would make a relationship impossible and instead Honorio asks the princess to persuade the prince to allow him a trip. Is the reader happy now? Or is he disappointed? Who would not secretly want the two of them, against all common sense, to simply let their feelings for one another run free? As already said, Honorio has everything under control and the propriety is preserved. Of course, Goethe would like to show something using the example of Honorio's renunciation, the reader should also learn something about life. But more on that later. In the middle of the sensual moment between Honorio and the princess, the hunting party bursts, which in turn has noticed the fire and is on their way to town. And there is someone else: it is the owners of the tiger who lament its death. To make matters worse, the lion is also loose. As will be reported shortly, it is in the courtyard of the old family castle. The prince would like to kill the lion just like the tiger, but the showman family has a much better idea: The little son of the family should simply tame the lion with his flute music. The idea proves to be a direct hit: the boy approaches the animal and plays a song. The lion then places his paw in the boy's lap and has a thorn removed from between his toes. At the end the boy sings about the unity of nature and man, cosmos and God and conjures up the universe of love.
Goethe teaches us a lot about life in his novella. We learn that conflicts should and can be resolved without violence, that inner calm is the core of all success, that the unity of man and nature is the best; that art and nature belong together, that the old is perishable, that the truly good people renounce and that paradise in general has stronger advantages over reality. In order to demonstrate these truly honorable virtues to us, Goethe makes it very easy for himself. Put yourself in the scenario: The chaos is raging, a wild tiger almost attacks the princess, Honorio can save her, the tiger is dead. The showman family mourns their dead 'family member', the tiger, the princess should actually be in shock and Honorio still busy dealing with the killing of the tiger and his suppressed passion for the princess. In short: the nerves should be collectively bare. And what does Goethe use as a sedative? He lets go of the lion. Actually, everyone involved should then completely lose their nerve. But everyone stays calm in Goethe's novella. The prince orders in a matter-of-fact manner how the lion is to be killed, the showman family forgives Honorio, oh yes, and besides that, the showmen still have an ace up their sleeve: the little boy with the flute, who will finally judge it. Although skeptical, the prince accepts the family's suggestion to let the boy tame the animal, which clears the way to the grand finale. The showmen are not afraid, they rest in themselves; the little boy anyway, after all he can play the flute really well. In the end everything will be much better than good and you will be happy about the paradisiacal conditions. Of course, proponents of Goethe's novella will argue that people need ideals to orientate themselves by. Nice and good. But why does Goethe disregard the characteristics of a realistic action to this extent, only to point out unattainable and therefore completely nonsensical ideals?
The title of the work, namely "Novelle", gives absolutely no indication of the content of the piece, and apparently Goethe's main focus does not seem to be on this. His own definition of a novella is an "unheard-of occurrence". On the one hand, the fire is referred to as an "unexpectedly extraordinary case" and the encounter with the tiger is referred to as a "strange, unheard of event", which in principle equates to Goethe's definition of the novel. The fire occurs right in the middle of the novella, so it can be called a turning point. Incidentally, a turning point is also an essential feature of a novella. The unity of the novella is to be represented by a symbol, something that keeps events going and leads to a surprising ending. The lion is a prime example of this symbol, which characterizes a good novel. In short, Goethe shows the reader that he, the quasi inventor of the general definition of novels, knows how to write a real novella. There can be no doubt that the "novella" is a perfect novella in the sense of fulfilling the characteristics of this literary genre. It is a prime example of a novel, a true masterpiece. Unfortunately, Goethe's piece seems like a pure demonstration of his extraordinary skills. At no point does the novel itself cast its spell on me as a reader. On the contrary, it sometimes reads more like a literary work. The title of the piece, "Novelle", fits in with it. The piece is simply a novella with everything that goes with it. The unrealistic nature of the story is like sheer convenience.
In summary, I can say that I would recommend "Novelle" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to people who are interested in the novella as a genre. I would advise against reading the novella to all others, as the novella is written too cumbersome for my taste; the content is very unrealistic and the author tries to convey unattainable and therefore dubious ideals. Furthermore, the novella does not understand how to pull the reader under its spell, since the paradisiacal portrayal of the conditions is not conducive to building up tension.
Bauerlein, Mark. Literary Criticism: An Autopsy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.
Carlsson, Anni. The German book review from the Reformation to the present. Bern: Franke, 1969.
Degenhardt, Inge (ed.). Literary evaluation. Ditzingen: Reclam, 1985.
Kienecker, Michael. Principles of literary valuation. Palaestra Vol. 286. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989.
Krämer, Herbert (Ed.). Theory of novella. Ditzingen: Reclam, 1986.
Schmalz, Jens. Review of historical literature. http://www.wi.uni-muenster.de/aw/lehre/archiv/RezSmalz.pdf. On-line.
Rath, Wolfgang. The Novelle. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000.
Reich-Ranicki, Marcel. About literary criticism. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2002.
Winko, Simone. Valuations and values in texts. Wiesbaden: Vieweg & Son, 1991.
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