Practical criticism in Tradition and Individual Talent

Thomas Steams Eliot (1888-1965) has described his criticism as a “by-product” of his “private poetry workshop” and as “a prolongation of the thinking that went into the formation of my own verse”.

More Notes: Tradition and Individual Talent

The New Crit Theal criticism emerged after the First World War. It is a  to a New Criticsignificant development in the field of literary theory and criticism. The younger generation of poets and critics of the early 20th century opposed traditional literary and critical methods. Their reaction against the prevalent forms of literary criticism shaped the mode of practical criticism or New Criticism. L A. Richard’s ‘Principles of Literary Criticism (1924), ‘Science and Poetry (1925), and ‘Practical Criticism’ (1929), William Empson’s ‘Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930)’ and the critical essays of T.S. Eliot and the essays of F.R. Leavis, established practical criticism as a theory from the 1930s to the 1970s. 

Eliot was a pioneer in New Criticism. The New Critics aimed at an objective way of analyzing the text. For them, the text itself provided all evidence that could be examined and corroborated through its formal elements such as the image, metaphor, plot, character rhyme, and meter. To a New Critic, the literary work was a timeless, autonomous, verbal object. Any literary production is the same for all time, and for all people. Its meaning cannot be explained just by paraphrasing it, or by translating it into some other languages.

The objective of Practical Criticism was to encourage students to concentrate on ‘the words on the page’, rather than rely on preconceived or received beliefs about a text. Richards concludes that the critical reading of poetry is an arduous discipline. “The lesson of all criticism is that we have nothing to rely upon in making our choices but ourselves.”  

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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