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The Study Of George Steiner "Tragedy Decline" Theory

Posted on:2013-02-08Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:Q K ZhangFull Text:PDF
GTID:1115330374980736Subject:Literature and art
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As one of the important literature theory trends in modern western,the idea that "tragedy is dead" arose in the beginning of20th century, prevailed from after the second world war to the80s, gradually fell back on the whole after90s. In its evolution process, western scholars around the "tragedy decline" have argued for a long time. Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton and other famous figures have been involved in succession, causing many debates, still do not stop. For such an important literary problem, Chen Shouzhu, Ren Shengming and many domestic famous scholars had pioneered in this field in the1980s and early90s and had achieved significant research results. However, on the one hand, their research tends to macro perspective, emphasizes integral study, pays little attention to representative personage's main is too general and sketchy; On the other hand, about twenty years after their study, domestic research about the problem of "tragedy decline " has got into the state of silence, relevant research results is also very little. However, in recent years, the discussion around the problem of "tragedy decline" in western academic circles is not only the out of date and end, but compared to the previous, some new problems are putting forward, hatching new academic hotspots, taking on some new research scene. In view of the shortcomings and backwardness of present research situation in the domestic, this paper abandons the existing macroscopic perspective, tries to use microcosmic perspective, chips into the problem of'tragedy decline",and tries to thoroughly and systematically analyze the most representative's main points. so can not only help us deeply understand the-death-of-tragedy-school's theory standpoint and main ideas, correcting many errors, but also through the systematic investigation on Steiner's academic response about the theory of "tragedy decling"can link up the main debates on the problem in the western academic history, clarifing the imbroglio.As a "generation literary theory guru ", Steiner systematically elaborates his "tragedy decline" theory in the famous The Death of Tragedy. He thinks that in history the era of truly producing tragedy mainly concentrates in ancient Greece, Elizabeth era and France in17th century, other times produces few tragedy, not even tragedy. In the history of tragedy, the17th century is a "great divide", after Racine, tragedy has gone through two phases of evolution——the "near tragedy"and "not tragedy", finally,coming to an end. Steiner thinks that there are many reasons which causes the death of tragedy:excessive commercial behaviors kill tragedy; beause of the rise of a large amount middle class, tragedy lost its ideal audience; the rise of the novel forces tragedy out of the historical tracks; due to the influence of Rousseauism, romanticist advocated his optimism and self infatuation, causing their efforts of reviving tragedy to end in failure; the victory of rationalism and secular metaphysical cuts off the root of tragedy; the expansion of the prose result in the gradual shrink of the verse; potential damage of the opera in the19th century, and so on. Although modern drama appeares in crisis on the whole, tragedy has eroded, Steiner still longs for modern tragedy renaissance, however, in his view, as modern playwright can't build mythology system, plus Christian metaphysics and marxism socialist influence, modern tragedy rebirth has no longer possibility.It is considered that Steiner's The Death of Tragedy collects all viewpoints about the theory of "tragedy decline" since Nietzsche,and the book has been published since1961, producing great influence in the western scholars, leading to a different view of the collision, producing the positive and profound significance:First, scholars understand the key words more and more deeply. On one hand, academia gradually abandon the bondage of essence doctrine, tending to understand tragedy from wittgenstein "family similar" theory or Benjamin "constellation" notion, no longer painstakingly pursuing precise definition and the nature of tragedy. On the other hand, academia have also made consensus about the understanding of tragedy extension. Tragedy not only refers to Aristotle's sense of tragedy, the form of tragedy is no longer single, the novel has also become an important form of tragedy. Tragedy not only refers to a group of literary works, and more refers to a concept and philosophical spirit. Second, academic circles concentrate on modern tragedy feature and spirit connotation, such as Williams scrutinizes the modern tragedy literature,believing that the common theme is "around the problem about death, extreme misery and fission "; Terry Eagleton conseders modern tragedy as a "mature philosophy", a kind of modernism in the level of tragedy concept.Through the discussion, academia have preliminarily answered the possibility of modern tragedy. Third, academic circles become more and more objective and fair about Steiner's viewpoint. As Joseph Wood Kruttch, Steiner's viewpoints were originally understood by many scholars from single dimension. With the debate developing, some scholars have come to realize:Steiner doesn't talk about "tragedy decline" from single dimension.He sets tragedy against enlightenment ration, in fact, including rich ideas about the problems of modernity.In the process of these debates, the divergences between Steiner and Williams, Steiner and Terry Eagleton,is the most conspicuous and also most important.Therefore,it has been this paper main contents.After Steiner published The Death of Tragedy, Raymond Williams quickly raised doubts about his opinions, writing the book review in Britain's Guardian, issuing a dialogue on tragedy in the famous New Left Review, publishing Modern Tragedy. To sum up, the main differences lie in:How to understand the notion of tragedy? An accident has the tragic? Does modern tragedy exist? Williams excellently analyzed some controversial problem with serious and unorthodox way. However, there are some inevitable limitations in the process of his questioning Steiner's viewpoints:First, Steiner strictly distinguishes the boundaries of art and life, the tragedies in everyday life are rejected outside of the scope of tragedy; on the contrary, Williams emphasizes the connection between art and life, talking about tragedy in the general sense, it is understandable to put tragedies in the daily life into the scope of tragedy. But there are some flaws, Although Williams acknowledges the difference between everyday life and art in a dialogue on tragedy, but in fact, He understands tragedy as a direct response to the disorder status from the standpoint of sense experience, confusing its boundaries. Second, Steiner's tragedy notion is too narrow, on the contrary, Williams'tragedy notion is too broad, even extreme. Third, Williams comes up with the convincing criticism about Steiner's theory. But in the process of criticism, he clearly neglects some other ideas about Steiner theory about "tragedy decline", even some misunderstanding still exists.Since the century, Steiner and Terry Eagleton open public fierce debate on "tragedy decline". In fact this debate is continuous with the dialogue between Steiner and Williams in the1960s. There are many divergences in the relationship between tragedy and Christian, tragedy and the Marxism, tragedy and novel, tragedy and modernity. Their dispute has great significance, producing far-reaching influence. Kathleen M.Sands,Joshua Foa Dienstag,Graham Ward,Kenneth Surin have been involved, making the debate upgrade and expand. Because Terry Eagleton is mainly involved with the debate from the concept of tragedy, challenging "the most pure essence of Steinerism "(terry Eagleton's language), influenced by it, in recent years the academic circle is too excitement on the concept of tragedy, overlooking tragedy literature. They neither concentrate the tragedy literature form, future prospects on the base of earlier achievement,nor further discusses the relationship between tragedy concept and tragedy literature under the Raymond Williams'inspiration. Such important problems need scholars calm down and give serious thought in the process of the present and future debate.The paper believes that Steiner's "tragedy decline" theory has obvious flaws. But if it is objective and fair to consider it, we should understand his theory together with the cultural criticism in the age of "after-word", not understanding it in isolation. In this sense, we analysis and find that, Steiner tends to expound the death of tragedy in the meaning of Nietzsche, in fact including his reflection on modernity crisis. This means that Steiner emphasizes "tragedy decline". In fact, his inner motivation regards tragedy as a form of cultural critique. He denies the possibility of modern tragedy, negating modern culture in essence where modern tragedy exists. This potential thought dimension has got more and more western commentators attention and recognition. In view of Steiner "tragedy decline "theory's typicality and controversy, paper argues that: there may be misunderstanding and simplification to a certain extent if someone echoes or follows, and comprehends or questions Steiner's theory from single pure literary perspective.
Keywords/Search Tags:Tragedy Decline, George Steiner, Raymood Willams, TerryEagleton, Debate
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