Charles Altieri

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780195182637
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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This article looks at the history of the study of literary style. It claims that style should be seen as purposive activity inseparable from the aesthetic shaping of the work as a whole and that the best way of modeling this activity is to take the foregrounding of style as a demonstrative speech act. It analyzes the works of Dante and argues that style matters in art and life because if we fail to establish manner as substance, we have only picture thinking. If we are reduced to picture thinking, we lose any language either for the variations in intensity afforded by aesthetic experiences or for the capacity to make discriminations that having that repository of examples might afford.

Keywords: literary style; purposive activity; demonstrative speech act; Dante; aesthetic experience

Article.  11490 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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