How is form the narrative content under a formalist critic's lens in relation to Emma by Austen?
Formalism developed in Russia as a reaction to the then prevalent literary criticism that associated literature with its era's social and political realities. For example, you might think of early twentieth century (1900s) literary criticism of Dickens' work. It was critically analyzed for its social commentary and exposé. Charlotte Brontë was routinely critically analyzed in terms of social roles. In fact, these novels, and other similar ones, are still dominantly viewed through these lenses today.
Formalists sought to separate works of literature from their socio-political exposé and message and critically analyze them in terms of literary merit; this in English was called "literariness." Formalists sought to make a scientific study of literature that discovered the order and form in literary works. Influenced by the then still new field of Linguistics, Formalists sought to find this order and form within the words of the text and to discover universal form that was common to all...
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