Harold Bloom’s and Paul de Man’s complementary rhetorical ­misreadings: Cover Image

Harold Bloomi ja Paul de Mani vastastikku täiendavad retoorilised väärlugemisviisid
Harold Bloom’s and Paul de Man’s complementary rhetorical ­misreadings:

„Hümnid Paanile” (Hymns to Pan, R. Roht, 1922) in agon with „Felix Ormusson” (F. Tuglas, 1915)

Author(s): Tõnis Parksepp
Subject(s): Estonian Literature, Theory of Literature
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: Estonian literature; anxiety of influence; rhetorics; tropes; irony; ­misreading;

Summary/Abstract: The broader aim of this article is to give an overview of Harold Bloom’s theory of the anxiety of influence and its applicability to analyse Estonian literature. A further objective is to develop a synchronic and diachronic method of literary analysis by confronting Bloom’s theory with the writings of its main contemporary critic Paul de Man. In my opinion, both critics’ different views on rhetoric (de Man: a system of tropes; Bloom: persuasion) are mutually complementary, which I illustrate by using them to analyse two Estonian decadence novels with a similar storyline: the canonical „Felix Ormusson” (1915) by Friedebert Tuglas and the now forgotten Hymns to Pan („Hümnid Paanile”, 1922) by Richard Roht. The present case study shows how de Man’s views on irony help to open up the polysemy of Tuglas’ work and how Bloom’s revisionary ratios help to prove that Roht’s novel was not merely a copy of its predecessor work, but an agonistic reaction to its imagery. From a synchronic viewpoint, Tuglas’ culmination performs the trope of catachresis and this may be the main reason why the novel has such a high position in the Estonian literary canon. From a diachronic viewpoint, Roht’s work unfortunately does not have a similar level of complexity, its main trope is hyperbole and hence the figure of metalepsis or the full circle of the anxiety of influence is not completed. Therefore it is understandable why the later text is forgotten compared to its precursor.

  • Issue Year: LX/2017
  • Issue No: 07
  • Page Range: 497-517
  • Page Count: 21
  • Language: Estonian