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LITERARY

LITERARY CRITICISM
CRITICI SM
Its Nature and Functions
 THE ORIGIN AND MEANING
OF THE TERM ‘ CRITICISM ’

 Th
 Thee ter
termm CRITI
CRITICISM
CISM is derived from the Greek
term KRITIKOS , which was used in the 4th
century B.C.

It means “a ju


 judge
dge of literature” .

In the 2nd century A.D. its place was taken by the
term CRITICUS , aimed at the interpretation
interpretation of
texts and wor
words
ds and improv
improvement
ement of the works
works of
 writers
 writ ers in Greek
G reek or Lati
L atin.
n.
 THE ORIGIN AND MEANING
OF THE TERM ‘ CRITICISM ’

 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 FUNCTIONS
OF CRITICISM

 JUDGMENT

 In its strict sense, criticism means judgment. 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.
 JUDGMENT

 The primary function of a literary critic is to


arrive at and pronounce a meaningful judgment
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

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 )
EVALUATION

 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)
INTERPRETATION

 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 .
INTERPRETATION

 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.”
INTERPRETATION

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
 THE NATURE OF
CRITICISM

 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 . ”
 THE NATURE OF
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.”
 THE NATURE OF
CRITICISM

 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 AND
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.
LITERARY CRITICISM AND
SCIENTIFIC ACCURACY

 According to D. H. Lawrence, criticism can


never be a science.

 In the first place, criticism is „much  too


personal‟  , and secondly, it is concerned with
„values  what 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.”
QUALITIES OF
 A GOOD CRITIC

  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.
QUALITIES OF
 A GOOD CRITIC

 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
QUALITIES OF
 A GOOD CRITIC

Remi de Gourmont says:

“A critic‟s  task is to convert personal


impressions into the appearance of an
abstract and universal idea”

Evaluare