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Encyclopedia > Rene Wellek

René Wellek (1903-1995) was a Czech-German comparative literary critic. Wellek, along with Erich Auerbach, is remembered as an eminent product of the Central European philological tradition.

Born in Prague, Wellek was raised in Vienna speaking Czech and German; he studied literature at the Charles University in Prague, then taught at Princeton University and at Charles University. He was active among the Prague School linguists there before moving to teach in London in 1935. During World War II Wellek relocated to America, first to the University of Iowa and then to Yale University. In the United States he became a friend and advocate of the New Critics. With the critic Austin Warren, Wellek wrote the landmark volume Theory of Literature (ISBN 0156890844), one of the first works which systematized literary theory rather than approaching criticism in a more ad-hoc fashion. Later, beginning in the 1960s, Wellek defended the New Critics against the condemnation of their work in the name of a structuralist-influenced literary theory; so he is sometimes thought of today as a conservative literary scholar. Wellek's final work was a lengthy, multiple-volume history of literary criticism.

External links

  • Wellek biography (http://www.the-rathouse.com/ReneWellek.html)
  • Wellek bibliography (http://sun3.lib.uci.edu/~scctr/Wellek/wellek/)

  Results from FactBites:
Rene Wellek - premier scholar of literature (1198 words)
It is likely that he is the premier scholar of literature in modern times because he combined all-round mastery of  the specialisms of modern literary studies, with encyclopaedic reading in several languages, clear writing, a humane vision and commitment to reason.
Ren  Wellek's father moved from Prague to work as a government lawyer in Vienna, the capital of the massive Austo-Hungarian empire.
Sarah Lawall's "Ren   Wellek and Modern Literary Criticism," CL 40 (1988), 3-24, is an excellent introduction to his conception of literary scholarship, which gives equal attention to criticism, theory and history.
Griffin, "The Mode of Existence of Shelley's 'The Devil's Walk'" - Urban Excursions - Romantic Circles Virtual ... (1714 words)
Wellek reasons that the poem is preserved through print, but is not identical to its printed form because, if the books were destroyed, it could continue to exist in memory and in oral performance.
A hierarchy of viewpoints, a criticism of the grasp of norms, is implied in the concept of the adequacy of interpretation" (156).
Adequacy of interpretation, to use Wellek's phrase, is not determined by an approximation to an object's transcendent identity, but is unremittingly specific and particular and historicized.
  More results at FactBites »



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