Abstract I try to rejuvenate Cleanth Brooks’s old thesis about the ‘heresy of paraphrase.’ This I do by analysing a couple of well-known poems and by performing. which Mr. Cleanth Brooks has called “the heresy of paraphrase.” What Mr. Bowra does, and does very well, is to give us what the poet talks about in so far as it. “the poem, if it be a true poem, is a simulacrum of reality by being an experience rather than any mere statement about experience or any.

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Heresy of paraphrase

Take a look at the following example, a poem by William Carlos Williams:. Thirdly, knowledge by familiarity can only be acquired by personal acquisition and must be personal knowledge, Johannessen ceanth. But as I hope to show, it is well worth probing into and decidedly needs rejuvenation.

The paraphrase seems like an empty shell, far removed from the complex organicity of Pound’s poem. To be sure there are important differences between the grasping of a poem and the perception of a face. It is a structure of gesture and attitude, it is wrapped in emotions, and it has its own poetic universe constituting its romantic structure. He relied on comparisons with non-verbal arts in order to shift discussion away from summarizable content:.

Nevertheless, if the knowledge of faces is tacit by virtue of us perceiving them as being bigger than the sum of their parts, it seems tempting to think that the same holds for poems. But we still lack evidence for his understanding.

However, Brooks is not completely against the fact that we need some discursive paraphraseable statements to understand in classroom about the meaning or theme of the poem. The idea of the non-paraphrasability of poetry was one of the central tenets of the New Criticism. Its rhythm, style, sound, images, emotional flavour and intellectual aspects, the denotations and connotations of its words, and even its content and graphic aspects, are inseparable.


The wind was blowing our way, so the ship sailed rather quickly. In our case the result of such a contesting is something Brooks would not have liked; lceanth that if a poem can only be reworded, not given any fruitful depth interpretation, then it is paraphrasable for all intents and purposes.

So rephrasing a scientific text is probably more rewarding than paraphrasing a poem, a fact that ought to count in favour of the thesis of heresy.

We might even say, conversely, that paraphrase is a kind of translation. Brooks says that irony is the chief organizing principle that creates structure of a poem. Paraphrases of the first kind I call ‘reworders,’ the second kind ‘probers’ because they try to probe into the depth of the text as a part of a depth interpretation.

Johannessen thinks that our knowledge of artworks, of which the knowledge of the sounds of clarinet can be an example, is a brand of heressy knowledge, which he terms ‘knowledge by familiarity. This seems plausible because when we translate a text we try to say the same thing in other words, which is tantamount to an attempt to paraphrase it.

Would it not require quite a leap of thr on his part to determine that this is actually from the two last categories? A paraphrase of Einstein’s book on the theory of relativity could hardly be mistaken for the paraphrase of a novel yhe a book about politics.

Thirdly, I think that the possibility of paraphrasability is built into the very concept of a linguistic expression of an empirical theory. Further, rhythm often plays paraphraes important role c,eanth the meaning of a poem and rhythm can hardly be mirrored by propositions.

September Learn how and when to remove this template message. Faces are Gestalts and so perhaps are poems; we have seen earlier that typical poems must be regarded as being wholes, which are greater than the sum of their parts.


Wittgenstein never used the expression ‘tacit knowledge’, but there is no doubt that it was on the tip of his tongue.

Heresy of paraphrase | philosophy |

It is time to sum up this article in a few words: We can try to paraphrase the poem make a rewording of it in the following fashion: The essential structure of a poem as distinguished from the rational or logical structure of the ‘statement’ which we abstract from it resembles that of architecture or painting: If we say “your skin is white” for black people it creates verbal irony. Poems like the one by Williams get their identity from being challenges to high modernistic poetry or even poetry as such.

A painting which in our eyes would look exactly like “Mona Lisa” but with a moustache would not be a parody in the possible world in question. Or, to move closer still to poetry by considering ceanth temporal arts, the structure of a poem resembles that of a ballet or musical composition.

The Heresy of Paraphrase by Cleanth Brooks

This was due to the magical powers of Circe, who is a goddess. And just the very Verfremdungseffekt the effect of estrangement of taking this part of Homer and cleahth it to a completely different type of discourse, as Pound does at the end of the poem [12]is also not easily captured by a paraphrase. Is it certain that this possible world would need the notion of poetry in order to classify the p.