Nature and function of literary criticism
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Nature and function of literary criticism



This presentation is useful for someone initiating in the wonderful world of literature and criticism

This presentation is useful for someone initiating in the wonderful world of literature and criticism



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Nature and function of literary criticism Nature and function of literary criticism Presentation Transcript

  • The Origin and Meaning of the term ‘ CRITICISM ’
    • The term criticism derives from the Greek term kritikos , which was used in the 4 th century B.C. It means “a judge of literature” .
    • In the 2 nd century A.D. its place was taken by the term criticus , aimed at the interpretation of texts and words and improvement of the works of writers in Greek or Latin.
    • In English, Dryden used it in the modern sense in his preface to The State of Innocence (1677). He writes : “Criticism, as it was first instituted by Aristotle, was meant a standard of judging well.”
    • Today, the term literary criticism aims at the study of works of literature with emphasis on their evaluation.
  • The Function of CRITICISM
    • Judgement :
    • In its strict sense, criticism means judgement. The literary critic, therefore, is primarily an expert who uses his special faculty and training to examine the merits and defects of a piece of literary art or the work of a given author and pronounce a verdict upon it.
    • The primary function of a literary critic is to arrive at and pronounce a meaningful judgement of value.
    • I. A. Richards says : “To set up as a critic is to set up as a judge of values.”
    • Literary criticism, says Rene Wellek , “is judgement of books, reviewing and finally the definition of taste, of the tradition, of what is a classic.”
    • Evaluation :
    • When a critic attempts to judge the value of a work of art or literature, he can be said to have evaluated the work.
    • “ Evaluative, judicial, or normative criticism attempts to judge the merits of the literature in relation to a literary, social, moral, or other, value system.” (Lee T. Lemon : A Glossary for the Study of English, p. 99 )
    • T. G. Williams says : “The function of a literary critic is the evaluation of what has been written, in terms of aesthetic principles appropriate to literature.” ( English Literature, a Critical Survey )
    • Interpretation :
    • If judgement be the real end of criticism, interpretation may be employed as a means to that end.
    • “ To feel the virtue of the poet or the painter, to disengage it, to set it forth – these are the three stages of the critic’s duty.” (Walter Pater)
    • Poetry is a ‘criticism (interpretation) of life’. Criticism is an interpretation of that interpretation.
    • The chief function of criticism is to enlighten and stimulate by the proper interpretation of the works of literature.
    • If a great poet makes us partakers of his larger sense of the meaning of life , a great critic may make us partakers of his larger sense of the meaning of literature .
    • Walter Pater aptly says: “Criticism is the art of interpreting art.”
    • Carlyle ’s regard for criticism:
    • “ Criticism stands like an interpreter between the inspired and the uninspired; between the prophet and those who hear the melody of his words, and catch the glimpse of their material meaning, but understand not their deeper import.”
    • Matthew Arnold defines criticism as “a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world.”
  • The Nature of CRITICISM
    • Criticism and Creation
    • To some people criticism appears to be secondary, parasitic and inferior to creation.
    • It is stated that the creative artist is personal and subjective, whereas a critic is impersonal, dispassionate, and detached.
    • Though the creative and critical faculties are logically distinct, psychologically they are interfused with each other.
    • There is a kind of criticism which exists before art itself just as there is a kind of criticism which follows art, taking art as its subject-matter. “There is no work of art”, says Scott James , “which is not preceded by criticism . ”
    • Thus, there is no antipathy but close affinity between the critic and the creative artist. “Both poet and critic draw their light from the sun of beauty and truth , and we may be glad of both . ” (Grierson)
    • According to Scott James , “The true critic is an ally of the artist.”
    • A good critic has the same interest at heart as the artist possesses. His never failing sympathy and intuition qualify him to speak on behalf of the artist.
    • Alexander Pope beautifully says,
    • “ Both must alike from Heaven derive their light,
    • These born to judge, as well as those to write.”
    • Literary Criticism & Scientific Accuracy :
    • A debatable question: Is literary criticism an art or an exact science?
    • Critics like I. A. Richards and Prof. Moulton aim at scientific accuracy and scientific impartiality in their literary criticism.
    • According to D. H. Lawrence, criticism can never be a science. In first place, criticism is ‘much too personal’ , and secondly, it is concerned with ‘values that science ignores’ .
    • “ The touch-stone is emotion, not reason.”
    • “ A perfect judge will read each work of wit
    • With the same spirit that its author writ.”
    • (Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism )
  • Qualities of a Good Critic
    • Hume believed that agreement among ideal critics on aesthetic issues constituted "the true standard of taste and beauty.”
    • The ideal critic possessed five attributes: "strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice."
    • A good critic must have superior sensibility.
    • He must also have wide erudition.
    • A good critic must be entirely impersonal and objective.
    • He must try to discipline his personal prejudices and whims.
    • A critic must also have a highly developed sense of tradition.
    • An ideal critic must have knowledge of technical details of a poem, its genesis, setting, etc.
    • “ Analysis and comparison, methodically, with sensitiveness, intelligence, curiosity, intensity of passion and infinite knowledge: all these are necessary to the great critic.” T. S. Eliot
    • Remi de Gourmont
    • A critic’s task is “to convert personal impressions into the appearance of an abstract and universal idea”
  • Thank you