The Idea of Spatial Form

The Idea of Spatial Form

Joseph Frank

Language: English

Pages: 214

ISBN: 0813516439

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Idea of Spatial Form contains the classic essay that introduced the concept of "spatial form" into literary discussion in 1945, and has since been accepted as one of the foundations for a theory of modern literature. It is here reprinted along with two later reconsiderations, one of which answers its major critics, while the second places the theory in relation to Russian Formalism and French Structuralism. Originally conceived to clarify the formal experiments of avant-garde literature, the idea of spatial form, when placed in this wider context, also contributes importantly to the foundations of a general poetics of the literary text. Also included are related discussions of André Malraux, Heinrich Wölfflin, Herbert Read, and E. H. Gombrich.

New material has been added to the essays in the form of footnotes and postscripts to two of them. These either illustrate the continuing relevance of the questions raised, or offer Frank's more recent opinions on the topic.




















without origin." 21 This is called "the peculiarly modem quality of Mr. Pound"; but it is also the "peculiarly modern quality'' of all the works we have been considering. They all maintain a continual jux- SPATIAL FORM IN MODERN LITERATURE 63 taposition between aspects of the past and the present so that both are fused in one comprehensive view. Both Tiresias and Dr. O'Connor are focuses of consciousness precisely because they transcend historical limits and encompass all times; the same is

anything like it. The mistake of postulating an absolute historical time; there are different times even though they may also be parallel. In this sense, one of the times of the so-called Middle Ages can coincide with one of the times of the Modern Ages. And that time is what has been perceived and inhabited by painters and writers who refuse to seek support in what surrounds them, to be "modem" in the AN ANSWER TO CRITICS sense that their contemporaries understand them, which does not mean

sophisticated Marxist treatment of the problems of modernism in the plastic arts, which touches on the same theoretical questions as in literature, may be found in R. Bianchi Bandinelli, Organicita e astrazione (Milan, 1956). The author was professor of archaeology and Greek and Roman art at the University of Florence, an eminent scholar, and an important member of the Italian Communist party. Professor Bianchi Bandinelli's brochure, which contains some extremely interesting passages on

place, taken up in one or more other places, and finished, if at all, in still another. This deliberate disconnectedness, this art of a thing continually alluding to itself, continually breaking off short, is the method by which the Cantos tie themselves together. So soon as the reader's mind is concerted with the material of the poem, Mr. Pound deliberately disconcerts it, either by introducing fresh and disjunct material or by reverting to old and, apparently, equally disjunct material." 5

Blackm.ur's remarks apply equally well to The Waste Land, where syntactical sequence is given up for a structure depending on the perception of relationships between disconnected word-groups. To be properly understood, these word-groups must be juxtaposed with one another and perceived simultaneously. Only when this is done can they be adequately grasped; for, while they follow one another in time, their meaning does not depend on this temporal relationship. The one difficulty of these poems,

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