|Aesthetica Preprint, 15 (March 1987)
The Motor Process in Poetry is among the first essays on the theory and analysis of poetic texts written by Jan Mukarovsky, the most representative aesthetician within Czech structuralism. The manuscript dates back to 1926-27, but it was only recently discovered and published in 1985.
The text is interesting for several reasons. In the first place it offers us the opportunity to integrate our knowledge of the philosophical formation of Mukarovsky as a presemiotician and prestructuralist with a unexpected theoretical episode: a readoption and working out of those theories concerning the idea of "pure poetry" introduced in France by Henri Bremond and also discussed by Paul Valéry. The episode is all the more unexpected as Bremond's position - which sees poetry as an essentially notlinguistic or even "ineffable" act - may appear as the perfect opposite of that theory of language which soon after and through the vital contribution of Mukarovsky himself was to be expanded by the members of the Prague linguistic Circle. But this is where the second reason of interest is to be found: this essay casts a new light on the development of Mukarovsky's theoretical thought. At the same time it gives us a better insight into the relationship between linguistics and philosophy. The third reason of interest is perhaps more restricted and specialized as it concerns the results of the application of Mukarovsky's analysis offered here on a wide sample of modern Czech poets (from Mácha to Vrchlicky, from Neumann to Neruda) with brilliant results, especially from the point of view of pure interpretation (again, rather "unorthodox" a point of view if we relate it to the socalled "scientific poetics").
The essay is formed of three chapters: the first focuses upon the theoretical "framework"; chapter two exemplifies the phonetic aspect of poetry; chapter three is an application of this analysis to the thematic and cognitive aspects of poetry. In his introduction to the book Pietro Montani points out the way the central idea of the essay focuses upon an aesthetical reflection on the relationship between language and sense.