'This is stimulating: the woolly blankets are being dragged off - one hopes that Mr Eaton will expand this into a leisurely treatise. He seems big enough and sure enough to confront Dr. I. A. Richards on his own level.' Extract from a review in the Times Literary Supplement November 24th 1966 of Trevor Eaton's short, early monograph, The Semantics of Literature. The leisurely treatise followed - but piecemeal, over a period of 40 years - and only now has the author found time and opportunity to present the integrated work. This is it. *** Literary Semantics develops an original, simple but philosophically potent idea into a theory for the human sciences - covering philosophy, logic, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics ontology, morality, religion, neurology, linguistics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, history and education. A structured Glossary provides a roadmap to navigate these complexities. This revolutionary idea - the trichotomy of knowledge, a threefold division comprising everything that could ever be considered knowledge - seamlessly integrates aesthetics and ethics within an all-embracing epistemology, thus placing the arts on an equal footing with science.
From the trichotomy are derived theories of truth, affidence, science, value, semics, semantics of literature, modality, style and fictionality. This heretical and starkly provocative book ventures far beyond literature in exploring the cognitive problems which have beset literary studies since Aristotle. The author believes that many English departments, in terms of academic progress, are simply wasting their time.
Trevor Eaton, a graduate of New College, Oxford and the University of Kent, has had a long career as a university lecturer, visiting lecturer and performer, schoolteacher and editor. His language tutor at Oxford was Christopher Tolkien. That Eaton's academic life has been devoted to building the foundations of literary semantics is largely due to Tolkien's influence. Early in the 1970s, Eaton founded, and was appointed Editor of, the international review Journal of Literary Semantics. This quickly became internationally established and he single-handedly edited it for thirty years up until 2002. The year 2010 sees the 39th volume of its publication. In July 1992, convening the Inaugural Conference at the University of Kent at Canterbury, he founded the International Association of Literary Semantics (IALS). Meanwhile, in 1987, Trevor Eaton struck out anew, becoming The Chaucer Man. He became an itinerant performer of Chaucer's works. For Pearl Records he commercially recorded The Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl, all in their entirety and in Middle English. This was followed by the first ever unabridged 2CD recording of Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon, featured on BBC Radio 4 Kaleidoscope. He gave a series of six one-man performances at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in 2000 to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Chaucer's death. He was Consultant for the Thames Channel 4 Middle English programme on Chaucer and also recorded for the Andrew Motion series A Map of British Poetry on BBC Radio 4.