LITERARY STYLISTICS AS A DISCIPLINE
THE CONCERN OF STYLISTICS AS AN INTERMEDIARY DISCIPLINE
A literary text,as a construct of language,is a multi‐level and multi‐dimensional entity,to which different analytic models,each with its given assumptions and interests,may apply.Not surprisingly,the conceptions of and the approaches to literary style are marked by proliferation,diversity and one‐sidedness.The present chapter seeks to define the typical objects of investigation of stylistics as an intermediary discipline in relation to the concerns of some other approaches to literary style.
2.1 SOME DIFFERENT CONCEPTIONS OF STYLE
The difference in the conception of style first has to do with the domain of style:genre or period style differs,not only in scope but also fundamentally,from the style of a particular author or text.I shall now touch briefly on genre or period style,then proceed to a discussion of two contrasting concepts of authorial or textual style.
2.1.1 Style as Genre or Period Characteristics
The characteristics of the use of language found in a particular genre(or school)or period of literary writing have frequently attracted the attention of investigators of style.Significantly,genre or period style differs from authorial or textual style in the sense that,rather than a writer's personal choices,it involves a set of given conventions or rules with which a writer operating in that particular genre or period complies or is expected to comply.If the style of a given author or text is determined primarily by contrast with the styles of other authors or texts found in the same genre(and/or period),the style of a genre or period is on the other hand defined in relation to the styles of other genres or periods.Now,given that genre or period style is theoretically fairly uncontroversial(like the investigation of registers in non‐literary language),there seems no need to go further.
2.1.2 Style as Habitual Traits of the Author
Many analysts,particularly author‐detection stylisticians,have focused on the linguistic habits of the writer.Traditionally,the measurement of style as such rests on intuitive impression or statistics.Starting from the 1960's,some transformational grammarians such as Hayes and Ohmann have resorted to transformational analysis to make explicit the author's characteristic preference for surface syntactic choices,one aspect of style which is taken by Ohmann as“a central determinant”(1964:438).
As habitual traits in contrast with thematic devices,this aspect may be treated as the“unconscious pole”of the writer's use of language(Milic 1971).Not surprisingly,the critic in this vein is typically concerned with the association between style as such and the writer's personality rather than the literary significance of the text(s).Now,leaving aside the true intent of the widely cited aphorism of Buffon's“The style is the man”(cf.Gray 1969:39;Milic 1971),if one claims that style reflects the personality of the author,one may mean by“personality”either behavioural/mental characteristics or distinctive ways of perceiving and organizing experience or perhaps both.1 In terms of the former,a notable critical attempt is made by Henri Morier who postulates a one‐to‐one correspondence between eight classes of style as such and eight kinds of temperament and mental makeup:weak,delicate,balanced,positive,strong,hybrid,subtle,and defective(see Ullmann 1965:25-26;cf.Milic 1971:77).But such associations can be,and often are,far‐fetched in that“some peculiarities of style need have no psychological background:they may be mere mannerisms or tics”(Ullmann 1965:24).Or it may even throw a false scent,that is,suggest some personality quite contrary to that of the author(see Ullmann 1965:30-31).Now some points need to be noticed here.First,the view that a writer's personality determines the quiddity of his or her style implies that the writer can exert no control over the style at all,all of it being determined by habits,associations,and conditioning(Milic 1971:80).It follows that if the writer consciously controls his or her linguistic choice for this or that purpose,as in the case of techniques or rhetorical choices,his or her‘style,'if we may still call it so,most probably no longer reflects his or her personality.Secondly,as Milic observes,a rhetorical choice may shade into a linguistic habit.In such a case,the change may be due to personal predilection and,therefore,possibly personality but it may be due to factors that do not have to do with personality.Furthermore,when searching for personality in linguistic habits,one needs to be on guard against attributing choices that are more or less determined by subject matter or genre to the writer's own predilection or personality(see Leech&Short 1981:12;Lutwack 1960:211;Milic 1971:82-83).
When it comes to the correlation between the author's linguistic habits and his or her distinctive ways of perceiving and organizing experience,the picture seems to be less problematic.This kind of association has received much attention from Ohmann,who holds that:
each writer tends to exploit deep linguistic resources in charac‐teristic ways-that his style,in other words,rests on syntactic options within sentences...-and that these syntactic preferences correlate with habits of meaning that tell us something about his mode of conceiving experience.(1966)
It seems worth mentioning that,while the reflection of the author's behavioural/mental characteristics is more or less confined to linguistic habits,the reflection of the author's cognitive process may be found both in the habitual and in the rhetorical,or thematically‐motivated,choices.But of course the habitual and the rhetorical/motivated differ from each other in the sense that what the former reveals is,as Ohmann puts it,“a habit of meaning...a persistent way of sorting out the phenomena of experience”(1967),whereas what the latter brings out is on the other hand the author's specific vision or viewpoint concerning particular fictional event(s)(Ohmann seems to regard such cases as“temporary epistemologies”).Perhaps precisely because the habitual and the rhetorical/motivated can both correlate with the author's cognitive processes,one finds here frequent overlap between the two kinds of choices.It has been observed that in some experimental writers like Donald Barthelme,there is a consistent use of highly simple language,a linguistic“habit”that is however motivated by a desire“to support,even establish,a particular point of view-that the world is meaningless,disjointed,and doomed by poverty of experience”(Traugott&Pratt 1980:168-169).Similarly,Henry James's preference for complexity and for placing causes after effects is in a sense motivated by his particular concern with psychological realism(see Leech&Short 1981:102).
Now,in terms of literary/thematic interpretation,one needs to be aware that a“distinctive frequency distribution is in itself no guarantee of stylistic relevance,as can be seen from authorship studies,where the diagnostic features are often,from a literary standpoint,very trivial ones”(Halliday 1971:344).Nevertheless,some critics who focus on the author's habitual and recurrent linguistic choices may well take the author's linguistic habits and literary significance as necessary correlates.Ohmann(1964),for instance,after offering a description of Faulkner's syntactic traits based on a typically Faulknerian passage,declares:
The move from formal description of styles to critical and semantic interpretation should be the ultimate goal of stylistics,but in this article I am concerned only with the first step:description.
However,once literary interpretation is actually brought in,attention tends to shift from the author's linguistic habits to rhetorical or thematically‐motivated choices.This seems to be the case even when it comes to writers like Conrad,Hemingway or James whose habitual traits are closely tied up with the subject matter.To take Ohmann's own analysis for example:in his evaluatively‐oriented analysis(1966)of the final sentence of Conrad's“The Secret Sharer,”much attention is directed towards the particular syntactic organization(e.g.the rhetorical movement)of that sentence,which is very much motivated by the immediate thesis of that sentence and the underlying theme of the story.In effect,only by treating the syntax as so motivated,rather than as habitually preferred,can one make full sense of Ohmann's observations such as“The syntax of the last sentence schematizes the relationships[the narrator]has achieved,in identifying with Leggatt's heroic defection,and in fixing on a point of reference-the hat-that connects him to the darker powers of nature”(ibid.).It is true that the syntax concerned exemplifies some of Conrad's habitual traits such as the use of chaining in syntactic expansion.But the stylistic significance comes largely from syntactic devices that are motivated in that particular context and that are more subtle than,say,a mere chaining effect.The sentence in question points to the fact that a linguistic form,while being on a general level representative of its author's habitual choice,may contain a subtle internal organization motivated in its given context,the analysis of which,as distinct from that of the habitual,cannot be divorced from the immediate thesis and/or the underlying theme.And this brings us to a different conception of style.
2.1.3 Style as Artistically or Thematically Motivated Choices
Investigators of style,if concerned with literary interpretation or evaluation,tend to focus on artistically or thematically motivated choices.Such a concentration is unequivocally displayed in Halliday's definition of foregrounding:
Foregrounding,as I understand it,is feature that is brought into prominence will be“foregrounded”only if it relates to the meaning of the text as a whole.(1971:339;my emphasis)
A similar exclusion is found in the French structuralist Todorov's statement:
Every utterance will...have a multitude of stylistic characteristics.But only a part of them will normally be“actualized.”In other words,the structural description of a particular text will not consider a property stylistic if it cannot show that this property is found in relationship with others,at other levels,or,to put it in other terms,that it is meaningful.(1971:36)
Stylisticians in this vein are interested in that part of a writer's style which displays conscious or quasi‐conscious artistry or craftsmanship(cf.Milic 1971;Mukarovsky 1964:19);a part that contains various kinds of stylistic or rhetorical devices functioning as semantic re‐inforcement or modification,including“technique”both in Ohmann's narrow sense(1964:425)and in a broader sense as used by Schorer who regards“the resources of language”as“part of the technique of fiction”:
language as used to create a certain texture and tone which in themselves state and define themes and meanings;or language,the counters of our ordinary speech,as forced,through conscious manipulation,into all those larger meanings which our ordinary speech almost never intends.(1967:66-67)
Stylisticians operating along these lines do take the author's linguistic habits as part of the author's style but they establish a clear criterion of relevance,namely,sematic/thematic or artistic function,dismissing thematically or artistically irrelevant linguistic choices as being trivial.This position is arrived at via different paths.A most common route that leads to such a position is a concern with the subject matter,with the object and purpose of artistic creation or literary communication,treating style as expressive or affective elements operating to heighten the aesthetic effect.Such a concentration by stylisticians on the aesthetic purpose,function and value associated with the use of language in literature may find an interesting expression in Cluysenaar's observation that“stylistic exploration can be the equivalent,for literature,of the painter's or sculptor's workshop”(1976:9).Style is thus identified with various linguistic features,devices and patterns which function to produce artistically or thematically related effects;and language is naturally examined in the context of literary interpretation.
Now,because of the limitation of space,I shall not go into other different,though possibly overlapping,conceptions of style,such as style as deviation from a norm(see Enkvist 1964:23ff.;Todorov 1971:30;Mukarovsky 1964;Leech&Short 1981:43ff.)or style as textual characteristics:a concept of style as shown in Halliday's earlier descriptively‐oriented analyses of literary texts.With the distinction drawn above between habitual traits and motivated choice,we now come to a consideration of some specific objects of investigation of stylistics as an intermediary discipline.
2.2 OBJECTS OF INVESTIGATION OF LITERARY STYLISTICS
The concern of stylistics as a discipline mediating between linguistics and literary criticism can be simply and broadly defined as thematically and artistically motivated verbal choices.This title,however,involves different layers or dimensions of the text.Which dimension or dimensions are brought under focus in one particular analysis depends on factors such as the linguistic model(s)used,the stylistic properties of the text(e.g.in which aspect(s)foregrounding or defamiliarization occurs)or the analyst's own interest.Attention will be directed here to two contrastive dimensions of the text:i)linguistic form and ii)fictional‘facts.'The former constitutes the most prominent and characteristic object of investigation of literary stylistics;and the latter has been singled out mainly because of its relevance to the analysis in the second part.
2.2.1 Linguistic Form
Linguistic form as a title covers many specific categories such as surface syntactic choice,lexical choice(e.g.from different registers),figurative expression,metre,alliteration,or modes of speech presentation(e.g.direct vs.indirect speech).The aesthetic significance of linguistic form varies a great deal in literature-not only from poetry(which often works by elegant concentration)to the novel(which often works by exhaustive presentation[see Watt 1957:33]),but also within the genre of prose fiction.Anthony Burgess observes:
Novelists,like poets,work in the medium of human language,but some may be said to work in it more than others.There is a kind of novelist(conveniently designed Class 1),usually popular,sometimes wealthy,in whose work language is a zero quantity,transparent, unseductive,the overtones of connotation and ambiguity totally damped...Such work is closer to film than to poetry,and it invariably films better than it reads....To the other kind of novelist(Class 2)it is important that the opacity of language be exploited,so that ambiguities,puns and centrifugal connotations are to be enjoyed rather than regretted,and whose books,made out of words as much as characters and incidents,lose a great deal when adapted to a visual medium....Needless to say,there are stylistic areas where the two classes of fiction overlap....(1979:15)
What interests me here is not so much the distinction itself as the point that different types of prose fiction present different degrees of aesthetic significance of linguistic form.Modern experimental novels of Woolf,James,Joyce and their like,which figure at the very heart of opaque writing and which have a close affinity with modern poetry,are a type where“form is accorded maximum importance”(Lodge 1977:44)and where aesthetic significance is inseparable from the novelist's exploitation of the possibilities of language.Indeed,that“[Joyce's]language demands our central attention as critics,is a proposition that no one is likely to challenge”(Lodge 1966:30).
But a quite different picture emerges from traditional realistic fiction where language is much more referential or informative and where aesthetic effects tend to reside more in the created fictional reality which is expressed through,rather than inherent in,language.If,in modern poetry or experimental fiction,foregrounding may be taken as forming the primary coherence,in the present type of novel,primary coherence is normally constituted by the represented fictional reality.Here one can usually postulate a distinction between the narrative discourse and the narrated story,locating aesthetic function of linguistic form at the level of narrative discourse.This point is reflected in the following comment by Wayne Booth:
“style”is sometimes broadly used to cover whatever it is that gives us a sense,from word to word and line to line,that the author sees more deeply and judges more profoundly than his presented characters.But,though style is one of our main sources of insight into the author's norms,in carrying such strong overtones of the merely verbal the word style excludes our sense of the author's skill in his choice of character and episode and scene and idea.“Tone”is similarly used to refer to the implicit evaluation which the author manages to convey behind his explicit presentation,but it almost inevitably suggests again something limited to the merely verbal;some aspects of the implied author may be inferred through tonal variations,but his major qualities will depend also on the hard facts of action and character in the tale that is told.(1961:74)
Fictional reality does not,of course,exist apart from the sequence of words symbolizing it,yet it constitutes“a more abstract level of existence,which in principle is partly independent of the language through which it is represented,and may be realized,for example,through the visual medium of film”(Leech&Short 1981:37) Essentially,one infers fictional‘facts'in the same way as one infers facts from news reports or historical documents(see Fowler 1981:169).In reading a realistic fiction,then,the reader tries to reconstruct the experience the novelist has represented and then evaluates the writer's formal operations made on it as regards,say,whether the author is manipulating linguistic form to imitate or“shape”the experience involved(see 7.5).
Such a distinction between fictional reality and narrative discourse or narrative style is often found problematic in poetry.To look at a short poem by Roethke:
CHILD ON TOP OF A GREENHOUS.
The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,
My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty.
The half‐grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass,flashing with sunlight.
A few white clouds all rushing eastward,
A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,
And everyone,everyone pointing up and shouting.
Like many others,this poem is marked by absence of temporal references and,as Widdowson observes(see 1975:54-57),the nominal groups which constitute this poem are characterized by the progressive aspect without tense-“billowing,”“crackling,”“staring,”“flashing,”“rushing,”“plunging,”“tossing,”“pointing”and“shouting”:
The effect of isolating aspect here is to make a statement about a sensation of ongoing movement which has no attachment to time.The boy is perched on top of a greenhouse,physically aloof from the world below and at the same time removed from the reality which it represents,detached from real time and aware only of a kind of timeless movement.(57)
The point is that the subjective impression as such which the poem records constitutes the very reality conveyed by the poem.Here,the reader is unlikely to draw a line between the fictional‘facts'which are necessarily transient and the narrative discourse;but rather,he or she would tend to take the fictional reality as one of ongoing movement with no attachment to time.Generally speaking,what matters in poetry is,as indicated here,the poet's personal vision or,in other words,a reality as perceived by the poet,whereas what counts in realistic fiction are both“the hard facts of action and character”and the author's vision of,or attitude towards,those facts.This distinction is of course not absolute,since in both cases fictional reality is derived from the conventional model of reality;and since in both cases reality is dissociated from an immediate social context,not being truth‐conditional.Yet the difference remains.It is quite inconceivable that a novelist would put down“I am the enemy you liked,my friend...”as Owen does in poetry.And if the lines quoted above were to appear as a description in a novel(where,however,the writer would have to provide more context of particularity),the reader would surely try to identify the fictional‘facts'in contradistinction to the I‐narrator's subjective impression.
In effect,I see in this difference one of the fundamental reasons which account for the fact that monism is happier with poetry and dualism with the novel.2 Given that linguistic form is typically used both in poetry and in the novel to convey the author's vision,in poetry,where the poet's personal vision of the reality tends to be or become the reality,the values generated by linguistic form,particularly in the case of figure of speech,tend to be inseparable from the reality conveyed.In the novel,however,the values generated by linguistic form,if operating at the level of narrative discourse,are normally distinguishable from fictional reality.But of course the explanation lies also in the obvious difference between the two genres in terms of verbal intensity or opacity:poetry as a genre often works by elegant concentration with foregrounding achieving“maximum intensity to the extent of pushing communication into the background...in order to place in the foreground the act of expression,the act of speech itself”(Mukarovsky 1964:19);whereas the novel as a whole often works by exhaustive presentation,attracting much less attention to the linguistic medium.In the context of the novel,we can usually assume:
The fiction remains the invariant element:the element which,from the point of view of stylistic variation,must be taken for granted. But of course it is only invariant in a special sense:the author is free to order his universe as he wants,but for the purposes of stylistic variation we are only interested in those choices of language which do not involve changes in the fictional universe. (Leech&Short 1981:37;cf.the discussion of fictional reality in 2.2.2)
Although such a distinction between fictional reality and narrative discourse or narrative style is often found untenable in poetry,in terms of some kinds of linguistic form like poetic rhythm,alliteration,register,or certain surface syntactic choices,it is still plausible to draw a distinction between the values generated by linguistic form and“cognitive meaning”or“propositional content”(see chapters 3&4).If“stylistic value”is used to refer to the value attached to linguistic form and“content”used to stand for cognitive meaning or fictional reality,the total significance of a given sentence or text may be formalized with the following equation:
CONTENT+ STYLISTIC VALUE＝( total) SIGNIFICANCE
The plus sign,though,is potentially misleading since stylistic values function not only as semantic reinforcement but also as semantic modification(see 7.5.2 Shaping the fictional reality;also Widdowson 1975:39ff.).In the latter case,(total)significance typically comes from the paradoxical tension or interaction between content and stylistic value,in a form such as:
CONTENT↔ STYLISTIC VALUE＝( total) SIGNIFICANCE
In fact,we may need some other formulations to formalize the relation between content and stylistic value as such.The two formulations above do not,for instance,apply to the first case analysed in Chapter Six,a case where Jane Austen manipulates linguistic form to create multiple ironic oppositions or contrasts between narrative style and fictional reality,with the narrative style embodying the author's viewpoint and strengthening the comic effect.Yet,in this case,the narrative style,instead of positively superimposing a meaning on fictional reality,is only to be rejected as being deceptive by the reader in his or her reconstruction of the experience conveyed.
Now,if the referent of“content”is fairly clear,what“stylistic value”stands for may be rather vague.As the object of investigation of literary stylistics,it refers to thematic and aesthetic values generated by linguistic form,values which convey the author's vision,tone and attitude;which embody the mingling or shifting of points of view(e.g.through changes in register);which add to the affective or emotive force of the message;which contribute to characterization and make fictional reality function more effectively in the thematic unity.Although the effects can be locally identifiable,it is understood that linguistic features never function in isolation but in relation to each other,all contributing to the total meaning of the work.In fact,the individual choices of words,syntax etc.,which are selected from their paradigmatically‐related alternatives in the linguistic system,are very often combined by the verbal artist into foregrounded or unique patterns which generate extra values or meanings by virtue of similarity(e.g.parallelism)or contrast(e.g.that between direct and indirect speech).In literary discourse,stylistic values may simply reside in appropriate choices from the conventional norm or take the shape of violation of conventional usages or rules,to the extent of changing the code itself.In either case,the aesthetic values are seen to embody the possibilities or advantages of the linguistic medium in contrast with other media such as film,painting or photographing.
Before turning to the level of fictional reality,it seems worthwhile to mention a prominent object of stylistic investigation of modern English fiction,namely,character's mind‐style(see Fowler 1977)which,if occurring at the level of primary narration in a third‐person novel,presents an area where the distinction between narrative discourse and fictional reality is,I think,untenable.Conventionally or traditionally,the primary narration in a third‐person novel conveys the view of the authorial narrator in contradistinction to the views of fictional characters,hence the distinction between narrative discourse or narrative style and fictional reality(including characters'cognition or consciousness).3 In some modern English novels,however,primary narration is used,for shorter or longer stretches of the text,to dramatize the viewpoint of a character(or some characters),to the extent of totally suppressing the style of the authorial narrator.A most telling case is the well‐known“Lok's language”found in primary narration in William Golding's The Inheritors,a language which embodies the primitive world‐view of the prehistoric character Lok in stark contrast with that of the modern authorial narrator(see Halliday 1971).I see in such cases an effort to defamiliarize or to deautomatize the narrative discourse.As primary narration in a third‐person novel conventionally contains the reliable representation by the authorial narrator,the occurrence at this level of a character's idiosyncratic or uncanonical view surprises the reader into a fresh awareness of this narrative dimension which intervenes between what is represented and the reader.Further,by virtue of the fact that a third‐person character's cognition or conceptualization is directly revealed at this primary narrative level,the character's mind‐style as such generates a striking effect of immediacy,vividness and authenticity(much of the effect would be lost if the narration were to appear,where applicable,in first‐person).
Now,the point to notice is that here the“narrative discourse,”being composed of the cognition or conceptualization of a character as distinct from that of the authorial narrator,forms part of fictional reality.It is true that the“narrative discourse”as such shares with authorial narration the quality of being distinguishable from the fictional events it represents:we infer,for instance,from Lok's“The stick began to grow shorter at both ends.Then it shot out to full length again”the fictional event that“The man drew the bow and released it,”with Lok's conceptualization standing in ironic contrast with the represented event.Yet both the character's perception and the perceived event form part of fictional reality.Nevertheless,while the perceived event is by nature not linguistic(see below),a character's conceptualization,being one possible expression(of the same event),is in itself verbal,with its aesthetic significance residing in the author's choices of linguistic form:in his choosing,for instance,“The stick began to grow shorter at both ends”instead of“The man drew his bow.”4 Not surprisingly,different conceptualizations of the same event are taken by Leech and Short as a form of stylistic variation(1981:36).Following the same line of thought,one may even go so far as to treat different types of character's speech or thought(e.g.formal vs.informal)as stylistic variation(see 5.2.2).
Except for that aspect of fictional reality which is in itself verbal(e.g.character's speech,thought or mind‐style),fictional‘facts'are“extralinguistic...which are essentially independent of language,even though for their communication we must and do require the medium of language”(Hasan 1971:303).As far as the‘non‐verbal'facts are concerned,aesthetic effects do not,generally speaking,reside in the author's manipulation of language.In a stylistic analysis of a passage from Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent,Chris Kennedy observes that:
the second group of verbs of perception are interesting in that the phenomena emphasize Verloc's role as a passive observer of an act he can do nothing to prevent.Mrs.Verloc's actions and her husband's perception of them are described only indirectly(Mr.Verloc never sees his wife,but makes connections between certain sounds and sights and her physical presence).He hears a plank creak and infers that she is coming towards him.He does not see the knife,the hand and the arm,but sees a shadow which he recognises as a limb and a weapon which he further identifies as an arm and a knife.(1982:88)
Apparently,the stylistician is not talking here about the effects generated by the author's linguistic choices but by the author's creation of fictional‘facts.'Indeed,insofar as those extralinguistic facts are concerned,linguistic models are usually quite irrelevant(functional grammar seems to form an obvious exception,whose ideational aspect,though,has been serviceable to stylisticians typically in describing mind‐styles or viewpoints).The difference between the following two translations cannot,like the contrast between the actual and hypothetical‘facts'in the quotation above,be accounted for by linguistic terms:
(A)...But Old Tung Pao didn't dare let himself think of such a possibility.To entertain a thought like that,even in the most secret recesses of the mind,would only be inviting bad luck!
(B)The more he thought the more he became afraid,afraid that the thoughts might come true.(see the analysis in 6.1.3)
Literary stylisticians differ radically in their concern with those extralinguistic facts.Many stylisticians firmly exclude them from their investigation.Ruqaiya Hasan,for instance,declares that“not any other element but only the linguistic element of literature concerns stylistics”(1971:299-300).This exclusion is surely understandable.But some stylisticians do take exception.Traugott and Pratt,for example,state that:
Stylistic choice is usually regarded as a matter of form or expression,that is,as choice among different ways of expressing an invariant or predetermined content.But this view is mis‐leading,for writers obviously choose content too.In our grammar,with its semantic and pragmatic components,both content and expression can be viewed as matters of choice.(1980:29)
While agreeing that both content and expression are matters of choice,I do not think the confinement of stylistic choice to form or expression is misleading.In the light of the preceding discussion,it should be clear that,given the distinction between content and expression,only the latter embodies the writer's style in the sense of his way of using language.However,the confinement as such does lead to difficulties.As aesthetic effect pertaining to language per se is just one aspect of the total significance of the text(though it can be a most essential aspect),limiting one's attention to this single aspect deprives one of the opportunity to explicate the overall impact of the work(I think here lies a root cause of the subservient role of stylistics-see Fowler 1971:3940).If one has the intention,as many stylisticians do,of showing how textual facts give rise to the total meaning,one has to take account of both expression and content.Obvious as the point may seem to he,it is not to be taken for granted.Cluysenaar,for instance,finds it necessary to assert:
Each text,whether a whole work or a passage,is treated here as an act of communication to which all features of language,including meaning,contribute.(1976:15;my emphasis)
Quite similarly,David Lodge sees a need to stress that the novelist's selection and ordering of fictional“surrogates”for actual experience“must have an aesthetic motive and an aesthetic effect”(1966:46),or put another way,that the author's“denotative use of words is of aesthetic significance”(61).
Interestingly,while stylisticians or critics concerned with language have to make clear why they should pay attention to“content”or“denotative use of words”at all,fictional reality has long been the concern,or,with reference to realistic novels,a central concern of traditional critics.The latter,of course,characteristically operate at a high level of abstraction,depending heavily on subjective impression and providing remarkably little textual substantiation.The stylistician's analysis of this textual dimension is,by contrast,marked by close attention to the relevant fictional‘facts'(most importantly to their relation with the surrounding textual features),concretely pointing out,say,what symbolic meaning a given object is seen to take on or what function a particular act serves in characterization.Naturally,in stylistic investigation,those‘facts'are often,if not always,analysed in relation to the writer's artistic manipulation of linguistic form,both of which,or the interaction of which,contribute(s)to the total aesthetic significance of the work.
To avoid diversion,I shall not go into other more peripheral concerns of stylistics,such as textual surface or deep structure(see Fowler 1977).In the following two chapters,I shall focus sharply on the aesthetic function of linguistic form,that is,focus on the characteristic object of investigation of stylistics.