Abstract Detail


Abstract Detail

In traditional philosophy a 'concrete term' is defined as a word which denotes a particular person or thing, and an 'abstract term' is defined as a noun which denotes qualities that exist only as attributes of particular persons or things. A sentence, accordingly, is said to be concrete if it makes an assertion about a particular subject, and abstract if it makes an assertion about an abstract subject. With reference to literature, however, these terms are often used in an extended way: a passage is called abstract if it represents its subject matter in general or nonsensuous words or with only a thin realization of its experienced qualities; it is called concrete if it represents its subject matter with striking particularity and sensuous detail. In his Ode to Psyche, John Keats uses a concrete description of a local which involveds qualities that are perceived by four senses; hearing, touch, sight and smell.

'Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian

And in the opening of his Ode to a Nightingale Keats communicates concretely, by a combination of literal and figurative language, how it felt to experience the full-throated song of the nightingale.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness painsMy sense, as though of hemlock I had drunkOr emptied some dull opiate to the drains...

It is frequently asserted that 'poetry is concrete', or, as John Crowe Ranson put it in "The World's Body"(1938), that its proper subject is 'the rich, contingent materiality of things.' Most poetry is certainly more concrete than other modes of language, especially in its use of imagery. It should be kept in mind, however, that poets do not hesitate to use abstract language when the situation or purpose calls for it. Keats, though he was one of the most concrete of poets, began Endymion with a sentence composed of abstract terms:

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:Its lovliness increases; it will neverPass into nothingness...

And some of the most moving and memorable passages in poetry are not concrete; for example, the statement about God in Dante's "Paradiso" 'In His will is our peace', or the bleak comment by Edgar in the last act of "King Lear"

Men must endureTheir going hence, even as their coming hither;Ripeness is all

A Glossary of Literary Terms - M. H. Abrams


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Abstract management — is the process of accepting and preparing abstracts for presentation at an academic conference. The process consists of either invited or proffered submissions of the abstract or summary of work. The abstract typically states the hypothesis,… …   Wikipedia

  • Abstract expressionism — Although the term abstract expressionism was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm , regarding German Expressionism. In the USA, Alfred Barr was… …   Wikipedia

  • Abstract labour and concrete labour — Part of a series on Marxism …   Wikipedia

  • Abstract state machines — In computer science, an abstract state machine (ASM) is a state machine in which the number of states need not be finite and in which the states are not mere points in the state space. More precisely, an ASM state is a structure in the sense of… …   Wikipedia

  • Icons, Abstract Thee — Infobox Album Name = Icons, Abstract Thee Type = EP Artist = Of Montreal Released = January 23 2007 Recorded = 2006 Genre = Indie pop Length = 21:06 Label = Polyvinyl Producer = Kevin Barnes Reviews = *Pitchfork Media (8.0/10)… …   Wikipedia

  • Energetic material — Energetic materials are a class of materials with high amount of stored chemical energy that can be released. [http://undergradresearch.missouri.edu/forums conferences/abstracts/abstract detail.php?abstractid=843] Typical classes of energetic… …   Wikipedia

  • Henken — Detail eines Gemäldes von Antonio Pisanello, 1436–1438 Unter Erhängen (veraltet auch. henken[1]) versteht man die Tötung durch Zusammenschnüren des Halses oder Brechen des Genicks in einer – meistens laufenden – Schlinge unter Einfluss des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hängen — Detail eines Gemäldes von Antonio Pisanello, 1436–1438 Unter Erhängen (veraltet auch. henken[1]) versteht man die Tötung durch Zusammenschnüren des Halses oder Brechen des Genicks in einer – meistens laufenden – Schlinge unter Einfluss des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tod durch den Strang — Detail eines Gemäldes von Antonio Pisanello, 1436–1438 Unter Erhängen (veraltet auch. henken[1]) versteht man die Tötung durch Zusammenschnüren des Halses oder Brechen des Genicks in einer – meistens laufenden – Schlinge unter Einfluss des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Vertical boiler — Detail of vertical boiler and associated steam engine in a working model steam launch …   Wikipedia