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Persistent FormsExplorations in Historical Poetics$
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Ilya Kliger and Boris Maslov

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264858

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264858.001.0001

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Alexander Veselovsky’s Historical Poetics vs. Cultural Poetics

Alexander Veselovsky’s Historical Poetics vs. Cultural Poetics

Remembering the Future

(p.65) Chapter 2 Alexander Veselovsky’s Historical Poetics vs. Cultural Poetics
Persistent Forms

Victoria Somoff

Fordham University Press

The chapter confronts a paradox in Veselovsky’s theory of the persistence of forms, which appears to exclude the possibility of new forms arising. Juxtaposing Veselovsky’s “uncomfortably extreme view on artistic innovation” and Stephen Greenblatt’s approach to the processes of individual “self-fashioning” in the Renaissance, Somoff presents a critique of a presumption shared by the two critical paradigms that, inspired by linguistics, chose to prioritize system over individual agency. Contesting the primacy of the historical demand, Somoff argues for a need to theorize the phenomenon of “forgetting” the old form at the moment when a new form appears. From this perspective, she considers Veselovsky’s discussion of the emergence of rhyme from within syntactic parallelism and the rise of representation of consciousness as a quintessential non-referential element in Realist narration. In both cases, the oblivion of an old form and the rise of the new result from a fundamental shift in perception that occurs within the order of verbal creativity and does not lend itself to a historical-deterministic explanation.

Keywords:   aesthetic activity, fictionality, New Historicism, omniscience, orality

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