On Meaning in Literature

R. L. Bretta1

a1 University of Bristol.

In his recent book, English Poetry; A Critical Introduction, Mr. F. W. Bateson makes the observation that as romantic criticism is now dead it should receive “decent and final interment.” By “romantic” criticism he seems to have in mind either what he calls the Pure Sound theory of poetry, which would have us believe that meaning has nothing to do with poetry, that poetry makes nothing but an emotional or physiological impact upon us; or the suggestion theory which argues that “a good poem should mean very little while suggesting a good deal.” Both of these, according to Mr. Bateson, attempt “to justify the exclusion of meaning from poetry.”