Page "belles_lettres" Paragraph 1249
from Brown Corpus
The novel was not only the presenter of the new, secular, rationalistic, private world of the middle class.
It served also as a literary form exactly appropriate to the fragmented audience of modern urban culture.
I have said before how difficult it is to make any precise statements with regard to the character of the Greek and Elizabethan public.
Until the advent of rational empiricism the controlling habits of the western mind were symbolic and allegoric.
Available evidence regarding the natural world, the course of history, and the varieties of human action were translated into imaginative designs or mythologies.
They order the manifold levels of reality and moral value along an axis of being which extends from brute matter to the immaculate stars.
There had not yet supervened between understanding and expression the new languages of mathematics and scientific formulas.
The poet was by definition a realist, his imaginings and parables being natural organizations of reality.
And in these organizations certain primal notions played a radiant part, radiant both in the sense of giving light and of being a pole toward which all perspectives converge.
I mean such concepts as the presence of the supernatural in human affairs, the sacraments of grace and divine retribution, the idea of preordainment ( the oracle over Oedipus, the prophecy of the witches to Macbeth, or God's covenant with His people in Athalie ).
I refer to the notion that the structure of society is a microcosm of the cosmic design and that history conforms to patterns of justice and chastisement as if it were a morality play set in motion by the gods for our instruction.