This Is A Five Page Paper That Discusses The Usage Of Contemporary Allusions In British Literature. It's A Good One.

1551 words - 6 pages

The world's great literature is replete with examples of real people (or their caricatures) inserted into the masterworks. Although there is the disadvantage that the modern reader may not be familiar with these individuals, examples from the British literature will show that contemporary biographical references strengthen these works. When an author writes, he seeks to convey a message. Having chosen his message, he must choose a form (i.e. prose or poetry) and a style. He must also choose which literary devices he will use, including metaphors, symbolism, satire, or allusions, to name a few. Of the literary devices, the allusion is one which can powerfully convey in one or two words a message rich in complexity. The author can choose from several types of allusion: literary, religious, cultural, and historical. But, of these allusions, the one that, over time, became the preeminent form in British Literature was the historical allusion. Contrary to popular belief, an historical allusion does not have to allude to the past, it simply alludes to a person, be it a person who lived before the author, or one of the author's contemporaries.However, as with any true communication, there must be a sender and a receiver. If the receiver does not understand the message sent, the communication is a failure. The author must give at least some consideration as to whether the reader will understand the allusion. It is essential, then, in any communication, and particularly in an allusion, that an author considers his audience. If his aim is to be understood by a wide audience, his menu of allusions will be small. Only allusions of popular appeal will work. E.g., allusions to the Simpsons are likely to be understood by most English-speaking people in the world. However, the allusions would not be understood in Africa or Asia, and probably would not be understood by most readers two centuries from now. If the author is targeting a more highly educated audience, his menu of understandable allusions will be considerably larger.This is the risk-benefit ratio that the author must calculate for an allusion used: "Will the richness of the allusion warrant the risk that the allusion will not be understood?" The decision will be easier for allusions to older literary works and historical events; they have already entered into the lexicon of well-educated readers. But what of more contemporaneous events or literature? The advantage is great in communicating to the contemporaneous reader. That reader will likely be familiar with the reference, will find the reference interesting or intriguing, and the allusion will likely have benefited the communication. But for readers in future generations, the risk is that the meaning of the allusions will be either entirely lost, or so obscure that they can only be understood with footnotes. Although there is the disadvantage that the modern reader may not be familiar with these individuals, examples from the British literature...

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