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paraphrase


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A restatement of a text's meaning in different words, usually in order to clarify the sense of the original. Paraphrase involves the separation or abstraction of content from form, and so has been resisted strongly by New Criticism and other schools of modern critical opinion: Cleanth Brooks in The Well-Wrought Urn (1947) issued a notable denunciation of the ‘heresy of paraphrase’, i.e. the idea that a poem is paraphrasable. This is a necessary theoretical warning, since the particular form and diction of a poem (or other work) give it meanings that are not reducible to simple statements and that do not survive the substitution of synonyms; but the practice of paraphrase can help to establish this very fact, and is an analytic procedure too useful to be outlawed. Adjective: paraphrastic.

Subjects: Literature — Biblical Studies.


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