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Its Nature and Functions

LITERARY CRITICISM
The term CRITICISM is derived from the Greek
term KRITIKOS , which was used in the 4th
century B.C.

It means a judge of literature .

In the 2nd 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.

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 ORIGIN AND MEANING
OF THE TERM 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.

THE FUNCTIONS
OF CRITICISM
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.

JUDGMENT
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 )

EVALUATION
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 critics
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.
INTERPRETATION
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.
THE NATURE OF
CRITICISM
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.
LITERARY CRITICISM AND
SCIENTIFIC ACCURACY
A perfect judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ.
(Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism )

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 critics task is to convert personal
impressions into the appearance of an
abstract and universal idea

QUALITIES OF
A GOOD CRITIC