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Allegory, Abrams and Hesse

M. H. Abrams, the American literary critic in his A Glossary of Literary Terms says:

“an allegory is a narrative in which the agents and actions, and sometimes the settings as well, are contrived not only to make sense in themselves, but able to signify a second, correlated, order of persons, things, concepts or events. There are two main types:
He further defines two types of allegory:

(1) historical and political allegory, in which the characters and the action represent, or ‘allegorise,’ historical personages and events, eg. Dryden’s Absalom & Achitophel, in which David represents Charles II, Absalom his natural son, the Duke of Monmouth, and the biblical plot allegorises a political crisis in contemporary England.

(2) the allegory of ideas, in which the characters represent abstract concepts and the plot serves to communicate a doctrine or theses.(eg. Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, much of Spenser’s Faerie Queene.)”

Each phenomenon on earth is an allegory, and each allegory is an open gate through which the soul, if it is ready, can pass into the interior of the world where you and I and day and night are all one. In the course of his life, every human being comes upon that open gate, here or there along the way, everyone is sometime assailed by the thought that everything visible is an allegory and that behind the allegory live spirit and eternal life. Few, to be sure, pass through the gate and give up the beautiful illusion for the surmised reality of what lies within. 

- Strange News from Another Star, Hermann Hesse

How many paths of torment we pursue, go deep into the cavern of our rubble filled soul, eternal suffering hero, eternal Odysseus! But we go on, we go on, we bow ourselves and wade, we swim, choking in the slime, we creep along smooth noxious walls. We weep and despair, we whimper in fear and howl aloud in pain. But we go on, we go on and suffer, we go on and gnaw our way through.
- Hermann Hesse


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