The more cohesive a society, the more the elements and even attitudes evolved in the different class strata are interchangeable at all levels. In the tight clan organization that existed in late medieval times at the Scottish border, for example, heroic ballads telling of the deeds of lords and ladies were preserved in the songs of the common people. But where class divisions are unbridgeable, elite literature is liable to be totally separated from popular culture. An extreme example is the classic literature of the Roman Empire. Its forms and its sources were largely Greek it even adopted its laws of verse patterning from Greek models, even though these were antagonistic to the natural patterns of the Latin language and most of the sophisticated works of the major Latin authors were completely closed to the overwhelming majority of people of the Roman Empire.
Among the latter are proposals, based on current research, for human-computer neural interfaces that are likely to change both individual mental capacities as well as the ways that individuals so enhanced may be networked.
The expanded reading aims to provide context for particular language in a single text, along with a broader framework for understanding specific commentary on social ethics and public affairs.
The very greatest translations may become classics in their own right, of enduring literary excellence (the King James Version of the Bible, appearing in 1611, is the outstanding example), but on the whole the approximate equivalence of most translations to their originals seems to have a very short life. The original work remains the same, of lasting value to its own people, but the translation becomes out of date with each succeeding generation as the language and criteria of literary taste change. Nothing demonstrates the complexity of literary language more vividly. An analogous process takes place when a reader experiences a literary work in his own language; each generation gets a new version from its own classics.
Other writers have sought to use language for its most subtle and complex effects and have deliberately cultivated the ambiguity inherent in the multiple or shaded meanings of words. Between the two world wars, ambiguity became very fashionable in English and American poetry and the ferreting out of ambiguities from even the simplest poem was a favorite critical sport. T.S. Eliot in his literary essays is usually considered the founder of this movement. Actually, the platform of his critical attitudes is largely moral, but his two disciples, I.A. Richards in and William Empson in carried his method to extreme lengths. The basic document of the movement is Charles Kay Ogden and I.A. Richardss a work of enormous importance in its time. Only a generation later, however, their ideas were somewhat at a discount.
(There are writers, like the contemporary Thomist , who exhibit both Neo-Scholastic and Laval/River Forest influences, and the approaches are not necessarily incompatible.) See also:
Thus, at the beginning of Western literary criticism, the controversy already exists. Is the artist or writer a technician, like a cook or an engineer, who designs and constructs a sort of machine that will elicit an aesthetic response from his audience? Or is he a virtuoso who above all else expresses himself and, because he gives voice to the deepest realities of his own personality, generates a response from his readers because they admit some profound identification with him? This antithesis endures throughout Western European history Scholasticism versus Humanism, Classicism versus Romanticism, Cubism versus Expressionism and survives to this day in the common judgment of our contemporary artists and writers. It is surprising how few critics have declared that the antithesis is unreal, that a work of literary or plastic art is at once constructive and expressive, and that it must in fact be both.
In some literatures (notably classical Chinese, Old Norse, Old Irish), the language employed is quite different from that spoken or used in ordinary writing. This marks off the reading of literature as a special experience. In the Western tradition, it is only in comparatively modern times that literature has been written in the common speech of cultivated men. The Elizabethans did not talk like Shakespeare nor eighteenth-century people in the stately prose of Samuel Johnson or Edward Gibbon (the so-called Augustan plain style in literature became popular in the late seventeenth century and flourished throughout the eighteenth, but it was really a special form of rhetoric with antecedent models in Greek and Latin). The first person to write major works of literature in the ordinary English language of the educated man was Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731), and it is remarkable how little the language has changed since. (1719) is much more contemporary in tone than the elaborate prose of nineteenth-century writers like Thomas De Quincey or Walter Pater. (Defoes language is not, in fact, so very simple; simplicity is itself one form of artifice.)