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Book: On Verbal Art

Chapter: Striking a Chord on the Reader: On Metaphor as a Constituent of the Grammar of Verbal Art

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.29793


Hasan’s framework of verbal art has provided a fresh perspective on literature as a dynamic variety of language use. Building on this foundation, this article intends to show how metaphors and their patterning help construct deeper meaning and thus contribute to the artistic status of texts. On the basis of (lexical) metaphorical instantiations in selected works which have been deemed literature for centuries such as Beowulf and metaphysical poetry, it is argued that the symbolic articulation of the theme has recourse to particular metaphorical conceptualisations, and their realisation as sequences and layers in the text, respectively. To that end, it is suggested to open the SFL basis of Hasan’s semiotic system to the cognitive approaches of conceptual metaphor and blending theory. It shows that abstract blending, for which conceptual metaphors can be inputs, is suited to establish a complementary perspective to Hasan’s. Blends are ‘acted out’ and triggered via language, and it is blend stability that serves to achieve what has been termed consistency of pattern foregrounding. In this regard, it is confirmed that the socio-temporal distance of the example texts under concern challenges the modern recipient in terms of theme identification and, hence, appreciation of the texts as Hasanian works of art.

Chapter Contributors

  • Timo Lothmann ( - tlothmann) 'RWTH Aachen University'