Wiggins, Wilvin Theophilus (1974)
The foundations of literature: An epistemologico-aesthetic enquiry into the nature of the literary work.
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Locating the object of literary criticism involves determining an authentic base serving as a text, a proper construal of which yields the literary properties of the work. It is argued that both the determination of the authentic text and its construal depend on the determination of an identity model for the work, in terms of some conception of literature.
The actual construal of the text is accomplished through the adoption of a semantic attitude related to a construal model. Since literature is a) part of the institution of art; and has b) language as its medium, the natural language construal model, qualified in certain ways by a), which itself dictates choice of the replicatable, unchanging particular identity model, is to be adopted in preference to the codal and technical language construal models.
Partial determination of the work-yielding properties of the authentic text and an analysis of these properties given by a proper construal is achieved by isolating the graphic, phonic, semantic and relational structures as covering the range of literary properties.
The discussion therefore centres on each structure in turn. The complicated semantic structure is dealt with through introduction of the notion of surface and embedded descriptions, the latter largely yielding the world of the work; and by an examination of characteristic manifestations of meaning in literature: symbol, metaphor and deviance. The complexity of construal is brought out both in the discussion of the semantic structure and quite generally in relation to all the structures of the work. The notion of the work, its structures, properties and nature are clarified through the technique of basic philosophical analysis employed in this work.
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Institution: University of London, Bedford College (United Kingdom).