Criticism Vs Creativity


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This presentation deals with the relationship between creative writings and critical writings; between the role of writer and critic.

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Criticism Vs Creativity

  1. 1. Criticism and Creativity Literary Theory and Criticism Dilip Barad Dept. of English M.K. Bhavnagar University
  2. 2. In this unit . . . • … we shall try to understand – the relationship between Criticism and Creativity. – We shall see how criticism is valued like creative writings. – We shall try to understand the role and place given to ‘the critic’ in the field of literary criticism.
  3. 3. Who is better among the best? • The Creative writer or the Critic? • Wwyp, write down the arguments in favour and/or against: • 1. • 2. • 3.
  4. 4. List down the following literary stalwarts in the category of Creative writer, critic or both: • Plato, Aristotle. • Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Sir Philip Sidney. • Alexander Pope, Dryden. • Dr. Samuel Johnson • Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats & the Romantics • Mathew Arnold, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater – the Victorians • T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, I.A.Richards, Northrop Frye, Stanley Fish, F.R. Leavis, Gerald Genette, Derrida, Roland Barthes, Widdowson, Greenblatt, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak, Terry Eagleton. (New Criticism, Formalist, Structuralist, Post- Structuralist, Deconstruction, New Historicism, Post- Colonialism, end of theory… rise of new reading in 21st century)
  5. 5. Difference between criticism and creativity? • Creative writer has artistic sensibility. He observes the world like any common men. But his vision observes the world quite differently. • He can perceive from life-experience what common man cannot see at all. This experience and observation get imaginative colours with the help of artistic sensibility. • He creates a world of imaginative reality. His world is more beautiful and artistic than the real world. He is naturally gifted to create the work which has power to move or transport the reader. He gets his raw material from the life. He is critic of life. • Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done. . . Her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden" (Sir Philip Sidney)
  6. 6. Difference between criticism and creativity? • Criticism is a task of those who write on the creative writings. The word criticism has been derived from the Greek word Kritikos, which means ‘able to discern and judge’ and whoever does the act of judging is called Critic. Criticism is the art of judging the merits and demerits of creative composition. • In the words of Thomas De Quincey criticism may be termed as the literature of knowledge and creative writing as the literature of power. Literature of power deals with life, where as literature of knowledge share information on creative composition.
  7. 7. Difference between criticism and creativity? • In Gerard Genette’s words, ‘if the writer questions the universe, the critic questions literature, that is to say, the universe of signs. But what was a sign for the writer (the work) becomes meaning for the critic (since it is the object of the critical discourse), and in another way what was meaning for the writer (his view of the world) becomes a sign for the critic, as the theme and symbol of a certain literary nature’.
  8. 8. The egg and chicken problem! • The relationship between Criticism and Creativity is a very close and it is very difficult to decide which of these two processes came first. • This relationship is as illusive as that of the seed and the tree, and the egg and the hen. The seed grows out of a tree and tree grows out of a seed. • In the same way a hen grows out of an egg and an egg grows out of a hen. Similarly, it is absolutely impossible to find out whether an artist came first or a critic.
  9. 9. A Critic of literature – independent & unique identity • R.A. Scott James has rightly observed “To the critics, of the arts and especially literature, custom has given an independent place. In this respect it differs from all other kind of criticism.” • The critic of architecture is architecture, of that of gardening is gardener, but that of poet may or may not be a poet. • Thus, since time immemorial, it has been customary to accept the criticism of art from a man who may or may not have been artist himself.
  10. 10. The debate: Who should be a critic? • Dramatists like Ben Jonson is of the view that to ‘judge of poets is only the faculty of poets; and not of all poets, but the best’. • Only the best of poets have the right to pass judgments on the merit or defects of poetry, for they alone have experienced the creative process form beginning to end, and they alone can rightly understand it. • Dryden: ‘…corruption of poet is the generation of critic…’
  11. 11. Dr. Samuel Johnson – The Rambler ‘… nature and learning has qualified them to judge…’ * Some believe that artist should create its art and leave it for critic to pass judgment over it.
  12. 12. Two extreme view points… • Both the above given views are extreme. While it is true that the critic has understanding of poetry as well as analytical mind, which proves dependable – the poets are not quite without the gift of analytical thinking. • Moreover, it cannot be said that the poet who creates does not understand his own creation, and that in order to understand he must approach the critic. • Thus, even Ben Jonson is also not quite fair. Most often, the poet who bursts out into spontaneous utterance has no critical awareness of it.
  13. 13. Two extreme view points… • Poet has a powerful experience, a vision of life which he wishes to communicate to others through his work, but whether it is adequately communicated or not, whether it has moving, transporting qualities or not, whether the writer has succeeded in expressing what he intended to express…etc… are the questions which a student of literature(critic) which balanced mind, poetic sensibility – though not poetic ability and capacity – has to reply.
  14. 14. • Thus, critics are distinguished persons. • They have qualified themselves for the task. • Alexander Pope has rightly said it is heavenly gift. • “Both from Heaven derive their light These born to judge, as well as those to write.” • Dr. Johnson – nature and learning has qualified them to judge. • They give equal value to both the critic and the creative writer. To him both are gifted writers, one to write creatively and the other to judge the creativity.
  15. 15. Exceptions in Generalization • But this does not mean that all the critics are fair and qualified critics. • Sometimes we find purely professional who lack both sympathy and impartiality of an ideal critic. • They do not render good service to literature, but they hinder the young and rising talent. (Keats’ premature death, Hardy gave up writing novels). Oliver Goldsmith calls them eunuchs – themselves unable to create, and therefore they hinder creativity in others.
  16. 16. A Dog appreciates dog • R.A.Scott James observed “Less gifted man would be certain to miss the significance of his drawing. If you show a dog a photograph of his master he will not recognize it. It will show more excitement at the photographs of dog next door”.
  17. 17. • Any student of literature who wishes to take some profitable use of the critical literature available to him will do well to keep the following words of Scott James in his mind before he goes on with the task that he has undertaken to accomplish: • “It may be a gain to attend to the writer of this critical literature precisely in so far as they are not standing aloof, like magistrate who were never guilty of crime pronouncing dispassionately upon the blamelessness or the misdemeanor of artist”.
  18. 18. To conclude… • No critic can ever form accurate judgment unless he possesses the artist’s vision. • Criticism and creativity are inextricably mingled with each other. Thus the artist is the critic of life and Critic, that of art. • The artist must have the imagination and vision to critically imitate the life/nature; the Critic from beginning to end, relive the same experience.
  19. 19. Thank you . . .