Nature and function of literary criticism
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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 NATURE AND FUNCTION OF LITERARY CRITICISM Prof. Ketan Pandya Prof. V. I. Patel
  • 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