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2011 | 59 | 1 | 26-58

Article title

Konec literárního špenátu aneb Popis v intermediální perspektivě


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This article uses intermedial poetics to argue for the evocative potential of traditional prosaic description and to reveal the sources of the prejudices of both the general reader and the scholar, which have usually been linked with this stylistic approach or type of text. The article seeks to demonstrate that modern Czech stylistics and literary history, or the historical poetics of prose fiction, have to a certain extent helped to create these prejudices. The former has, in the endeavour to document types of text, sometimes tended to an implicit axiology of alternative functional forms of descriptiveness with their concrete historical forms; this state of affairs has continued in recent stylistics. In the interpretations offered in literary history and diachronic poetics until the 1980s, one encounters the generalizing opposition of realistic description, that is to say, ‘objective’, ‘static’ description, to modernist, that is to say, ‘subjectivized’, ‘dynamic’ description. As is clear from the analyses in the second part of the article, numerous examples can be found both to refute the existence of this opposition and to demonstrate it. Besides making a thorough distinction between, on the one hand, descriptive approaches and descriptive function (which draw, for example, on the ideas of Felix Vodička) and, on the other hand, the thoroughly contextual interpretation of literary description, a way out of the confusion is offered by the intermedial (or intermedially cognitive) approach to description as a ‘representational macro -mode’, as was methodologically laid out by Werner Wolf. Drawing on the first part of the article, the second part demonstrates the internal dynamics of realistic descriptions (which are often linked with superordinated epic models, particularly of composition) based, for example, not ‘on the evocation of landscape’, but on the evocation of the multisensory perception of the landscape, the ‘dissolution’ of description in the flow of narration, and the ‘temporalization’ of the description of the landscape by linking up with its transformations under the influence of the seasons; the narratological thesis of ‘description as suspension’ of narration is thereby rebutted. The means by which some realistic descriptions assume a mood -like character, clearly turns out in the intermedial perspective to be a result of the narrative application of traditional iconography and pictorial models linked with the period that is thematized in the story, as well as visual evocation based on intertextual relations. Identification of the position of the observer clearly follows from the key role of perception in these examples; that position is comprehensively demonstrated in the final example of the article, which shows that the autonomization of description as a ‘report of perception’ in prose fiction, which crosses over to literary impressionism.


  • Česká literatura, redakce, Ústav pro českou literaturu AV ČR, v.v.i., Na Florenci 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic


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