By Harry Blamires (auth.)
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Extra resources for A History of Literary Criticism
He defends Ovid, 'that semeth to be moste of all poetes lascivious' by citing 'commendable and noble sentences' that can be found 'in his mooste wanton hokes'. On this basis Elyot comes down firmly against censorship of what the young should read .. A man walking in a garden treads the nettles underfoot whtle 48 A HISTORY OF LITERARY CRITICISM he gathers the good herbs. So the young reader will learn to discriminate the good from the bad. Not, Elyot adds, that he would recommend teaching the 'wanton poetes' to all pupils, but nothing should be excluded from those who are healthyminded.
It is a hierarchy of the descending spheres of Reason, Soul, and Nature, and the principle of gradation is the degree of unity. Oneness disintegrates into multiplicity, unity into individuation. Men must discipline themselves to attain to the spiritual world of Being and unity, and not pursue what belongs to Negation and diversity. No one, however, should be insensitive to evidences of symmetry and order in the world. Every manifestation of orderliness in nature is an image of that Unity and Beauty from which it springs.
It has many meanings. The first meaning is the one obtained through the letter; the second is the one obtained through the things signified by the letter. The first is called literal, the second allegorical or moral or anagogical. ' He then exemplifies the various levels of meaning, the literal - the departure of the Israelites from Egypt; the allegorical - the redemption of mankind by Christ; the moral- the soul's conversion from sin to a state of grace; the anagogical- the soul's departure from the slavery of corruption to the freedom of eternal life.