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How would an aesthetic criticism or reading of a work of literature look or sound...

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hrafen | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 21, 2011 at 8:18 PM via web

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How would an aesthetic criticism or reading of a work of literature look or sound like?

I'm beginning a personal study of aesthetics, specifically the use of aesthetics as a form of criticism (for example: marxist, psychoanalytic, etc.).  I'm not sure whether I should be focusing on the principles of aesthetics as a critique, or if it should be a critique of the author's aesthetic intention.  I've searched everywhere for an example, but I have so far failed to find one.  Perhaps using Beckett's Waiting for Godot as an example, or Shelley's Frankenstein as those are works I am familiar with.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 22, 2011 at 5:09 AM (Answer #1)

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To first begin to answer this question, one must be sure to have a firm understanding of the terms regarded.

Aesthetic can be defined in each of the following ways: first, the appreciation of beauty; second, the principles guiding the work of an artist.

In regards to an aesthetic reading, an aesthetic reading is when a reader contemplates and appraises the techniques used by the author, as well as the presentation of action.

The mode of reading which offers a polar opposite of aesthetic reading is the efferent mode. When reading in an efferent mode, the reader attempts to identify the facts of the text so as to put the text into an informational structure. 

The difference between the two modes is that one (efferent) looks at the facts and the other (aesthetic) looks at the tone and emotive qualities.

Therefore, if one were to present an efferent reading on Frankenstein, the reader would present the facts from the text and be concerned with those issues only.

Where as an aesthetic reading to the same novel would be based upon the figurative language used inn the text along with the emotive qualities presented by Victor, the Monster, and the reader.

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