Deconstructing Cleanth Brooks' Theory of ParadoxCleanth Brooks in his essay "The Language of Paradox" pointed out that paradox is the language of Poetry, and that every good poem has to have...

Deconstructing Cleanth Brooks' Theory of Paradox

Cleanth Brooks in his essay "The Language of Paradox" pointed out that paradox is the language of Poetry, and that every good poem has to have Paradox.

In which way did some critics deconstruct his theory? And who are those critics?

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deenavarner | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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Hasn’t the entire academy already deconstructed Brooks? The New Critics believe that the author is God and mostly everyone else living in the Foucaultian knows that the author (like God) is dead.

Brooks’ eloquence certainly isn’t in question and sure, “Keats’s Sylvan Historian” is a classic in any English department. The New Criticism can certainly be useful on poetic texts; the romantic identity is allowed to remain fully intact and the direct authority of the author over his/her text allows each word to have a certain fixed meaning. If you happen to be a White Male from the South, New Criticism might provide you with all the interpretive strategies you need, but if you happen to be anyone else, the “meaning” contained in the New Critical interpretation might not seem exactly like the “truth.”

Paradox might be the language of poetry (it is, after all, the language of everything else), but the paradoxes that Brooks uncovers are of his own construction in the first place. The true paradox – the place where two things (seemingly) cannot coexist – is where we are most likely to find the real truth. Brooks asks (in “Keats’s”) if the final lines of “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (“Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty”) are “dramatically prepared for,” or, in other words, if the seeming paradox can be resolved. Of course it can. It was never really a paradox in the first place, but a question of “unity.” Aristotle already covered that. 

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