Poetic thoughts and poetic effects : a relevance theory account of the literary use of rhetorical tropes and schemes
This thesis proposes an account of the effects achieved by the poetic use of rhetorical tropes and schemes in the light of recent developments in pragmatic theory. More specifically it discusses and attempts to develop the relevance theory account of poetic effects. Much recent debate in literary studies has centred on the question as to whether literary communication is best explained in terms of text-internal linguistic properties or socio-cultural phenomena. This thesis considers such views in the light of the theories of language and communication they assume. It then proposes an alternative theoretical account of literary communication grounded in cognitive pragmatic theory. It argues that the relevance theory account of poetic effects may make a significant contribution to such an account. A brief outline of relevance theory is followed by a more detailed analysis of metaphor and a brief consideration of epizeuxis and various verse effects, insofar as they contribute to poetic style. it is natural for pragmatic theory to concentrate on the communication of assumptions, propositional forms with a logical structure over which inferences can be performed. Although the account of poetic effects and poetic thoughts developed here will be partially characterised in such terms, an attempt will also be made to account for the communication of affective and other non-propositional effects. Any theory of stylistic effects in general, and poetic style in particular, must, it will be argued, include such an account. This will necessitate a broader philosophical discussion of issues having a bearing on the question of what it is that is communicated non-propositionally. More particularly it will require some discussion of emotion, phenomenal experience and aesthetic experience. This discussion will lead to a characterisation of poetic thought or poetic representation. The thesis aims, then, to make a contribution to literary studies by characterising a new theoretical notion of literariness in terms of mental representations and mental processes. It also aims to make a contribution to pragmatic theory, specifically to the pragmatics of poetic style and rhetoric within a relevance theory framework.