Nature and function of literary criticism


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Nature and function of literary criticism

  2. 2. The Origin and Meaning of the term ‘ CRITICISM ’ <ul><li>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” . </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>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.” </li></ul><ul><li>Today, the term literary criticism aims at the study of works of literature with emphasis on their evaluation. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Function of CRITICISM <ul><li>Judgement : </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>The primary function of a literary critic is to arrive at and pronounce a meaningful judgement of value. </li></ul><ul><li>I. A. Richards says : “To set up as a critic is to set up as a judge of values.” </li></ul><ul><li>Literary criticism, says Rene Wellek , “is judgement of books, reviewing and finally the definition of taste, of the tradition, of what is a classic.” </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Evaluation : </li></ul><ul><li>When a critic attempts to judge the value of a work of art or literature, he can be said to have evaluated the work. </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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 ) </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>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 ) </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Interpretation : </li></ul><ul><li>If judgement be the real end of criticism, interpretation may be employed as a means to that end. </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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) </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Poetry is a ‘criticism (interpretation) of life’. Criticism is an interpretation of that interpretation. </li></ul><ul><li>The chief function of criticism is to enlighten and stimulate by the proper interpretation of the works of literature. </li></ul><ul><li>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 . </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Walter Pater aptly says: “Criticism is the art of interpreting art.” </li></ul><ul><li>Carlyle ’s regard for criticism: </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Matthew Arnold defines criticism as “a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Nature of CRITICISM <ul><li>Criticism and Creation </li></ul><ul><li>To some people criticism appears to be secondary, parasitic and inferior to creation. </li></ul><ul><li>It is stated that the creative artist is personal and subjective, whereas a critic is impersonal, dispassionate, and detached. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Though the creative and critical faculties are logically distinct, psychologically they are interfused with each other. </li></ul><ul><li>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 . ” </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>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) </li></ul><ul><li>According to Scott James , “The true critic is an ally of the artist.” </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Alexander Pope beautifully says, </li></ul><ul><li>“ Both must alike from Heaven derive their light, </li></ul><ul><li>These born to judge, as well as those to write.” </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Literary Criticism & Scientific Accuracy : </li></ul><ul><li>A debatable question: Is literary criticism an art or an exact science? </li></ul><ul><li>Critics like I. A. Richards and Prof. Moulton aim at scientific accuracy and scientific impartiality in their literary criticism. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>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’ . </li></ul><ul><li>“ The touch-stone is emotion, not reason.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>“ A perfect judge will read each work of wit </li></ul><ul><li>With the same spirit that its author writ.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism ) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Qualities of a Good Critic <ul><li>Hume believed that agreement among ideal critics on aesthetic issues constituted &quot;the true standard of taste and beauty.” </li></ul><ul><li>The ideal critic possessed five attributes: &quot;strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice.&quot; </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>A good critic must have superior sensibility. </li></ul><ul><li>He must also have wide erudition. </li></ul><ul><li>A good critic must be entirely impersonal and objective. </li></ul><ul><li>He must try to discipline his personal prejudices and whims. </li></ul><ul><li>A critic must also have a highly developed sense of tradition. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>An ideal critic must have knowledge of technical details of a poem, its genesis, setting, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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 </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Remi de Gourmont </li></ul><ul><li>A critic’s task is “to convert personal impressions into the appearance of an abstract and universal idea” </li></ul>
  23. 23. Thank you