GRE : Reading Comprehension
An important development in the twentieth century literary criticism was the growth of the New Criticism. The New Critics assumed that the methods devised for reading long poems could be applied to novels. In practice, this meant a new emphasis in the reading of fiction on scrupulous textual analysis as a prerequisite for biographical and ideological commend. A novelist’s ideas were now significant mainly as components of his or her writing technique. Insisting on close attention to a text, the New Critics analyzed long passages of a novel and concentrated on discerning the development of symbolic patterns. By analyzing symbols in this way, the critic could show how the meaning of symbol accrued as it was repeated in different passages. This permitted a more complete understanding of the symbol to emerge than that which could be discovered through isolated symbol-hunting. One novelist who benefited from this new emphasis on text was D.H.Lawrence, whose work was rescued from hostile critics who had attacked as mere ideology.
The difficult words in this passage are scrupulous (careful), prerequisite (precondition), components (parts), discerning (carefully identifying) and accrue (add up).
It can be inferred from the passage that the New Critics disliked isolated symbol-hunting because it tended to
(A) encourage simplistic critical platitudes
(B) reduce the role of the critic to that of a literary detective
(C) enforce an unnecessary distinction between criticism and symbolism
(D) oversimplify the meaning of a symbol
(E) ignore conventions associated with long poems
The phrase’ “isolated symbol hunting” occurs in the penultimate sentence which reads, “This permitted a more complete understanding of the symbol to emerge than that which could be discovered through isolated symbol hunting”. This implies that, according to the New Critics, isolated symbol hunting provided only an incomplete understanding of the symbol.
Among the choices, it is (D) (oversimplify the meaning of the symbol) which is close to the meaning to this phrase, and that is the answer.
GRE : Model Questions Index