The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Explication de texte
Explication de texte: French for “explanation of text,” a method of literary analysis that originated in late-nineteenth-century France involving close reading of the text. Explication de texte, which features a detailed examination of a short poem or passage as a means of elucidating the work as a whole, was once the chief method and remains a prominent mode of exegesis in French literary study. Only elements that bear directly on the interpretation of the text and a further understanding of its meaning are considered; hence practitioners of this method concentrate on diction, imagery, style, symbolism, tone, and so forth.
The New Critics, formalist literary critics who emphasized a text-only approach as the one valid method of analysis, helped popularize explication de texte in English-language literary criticism through works such as Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks’s Understanding Poetry (1939). As a critical term in English, explication is synonymous with close reading.