GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Formalism / New Criticism

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Subject Test: Literature in English

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Formalism / New Criticism

In the seventeenth century a dissociation of sensibility set in, from which we have never recovered; and this dissociation, as is natural, was aggravated by the influence of the two most powerful poets of the century, Milton and Dryden. Each of these men performed certain poetic functions so magnificently well that the magnitude of the effect concealed the absence of others. The language went on and in some respects improved; the best verse of Collins, Gray, Johnson, and even Goldsmith satisfies some of our fastidious demands better than that of Donne or Marvell or King. But while the language became more refined, the feeling became more crude. The feeling, the sensibility, expressed in the "Country Churchyard" (to say nothing of Tennyson and Browning) is cruder than that in the "Coy Mistress."

The essay from which the passage was taken is concerned primarily with which of the following groups of poets?

Possible Answers:

The Neoclassical Poets

The Romantic Poets

The Graveyard Poets

The Cavalier Poets

The Metaphysical Poets

Correct answer:

The Metaphysical Poets

Explanation:

This passage comes from an essay entitled "The Metaphysical Poets" by T. S. Eliot (1921). The most obvious clue is the author's reference to Donne, Marvell, and King, each of whom was closely associated with what has come to be known as metaphysical poetry. The other major clue is based on the author's description of the "dissociation of sensibility" as having set in during the seventeenth century with the rise of poets such as Milton and Dryden.

Passage adapted from "The Metaphysical Poets" by T. S. Eliot (1921)

Example Question #2 : Formalism / New Criticism

In the seventeenth century a dissociation of sensibility set in, from which we have never recovered; and this dissociation, as is natural, was aggravated by the influence of the two most powerful poets of the century, Milton and Dryden. Each of these men performed certain poetic functions so magnificently well that the magnitude of the effect concealed the absence of others. The language went on and in some respects improved; the best verse of Collins, Gray, Johnson, and even Goldsmith satisfies some of our fastidious demands better than that of Donne or Marvell or King. But while the language became more refined, the feeling became more crude. The feeling, the sensibility, expressed in the "Country Churchyard" (to say nothing of Tennyson and Browning) is cruder than that in the "Coy Mistress."

The author of the passage was __________.

Possible Answers:

Ezra Pound

T. S. Eliot

F. R. Leavis

Cleanth Brooks

William Empson

Correct answer:

T. S. Eliot

Explanation:

This excerpt is from an essay by the poet T. S. Eliot. While he is known primarily as a poet, Eliot was also an extremely prolific critic. His critical work greatly influenced the school of criticism known as "New Criticism," and his essay on "The Metaphysical Poets" led to a resurgence of interest in the "Metaphysical Poetry" of writers like John Donne and Andrew Marvell.

Passage adapted from "The Metaphysical Poets" by T. S. Eliot (1921)

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 158 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
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