Criticism in America, Its Functions and Status: Essays

By Irving Babbitt; Van Wyck Brooks et al. | Go to book overview
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Two Phases of Criticism: Historical and Esthetic1

By GEORGE EDWARD WOODBERRY


I. Historical Criticism

WHAT is the act of criticism? It has lately been succinctly described as a repetition of the creative act of genius originating a work of art; to criticize is to re-create. The critic is genius at one remove; he is not unlike an actor on the stage, and incarnates in his mind, as the actor embodies in his person, another's work; only thus does he understand art, realize it, know it; and having arrived at this, his task is done. This is the last word of modern theory. It is obvious that it simplifies the function of criticism, and relieves it apparently of much of its old service. It relieves it, for example, of judgment; the critic understands, he

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1
Lectures delivered at Kenyon College in May, 1913; printed by the Woodberry Society in 1914; reprinted in The Heart of Man and Other Papers ( Harcourt, Brace and Company) in 1920. The omissions indicated by asterisks have been made by the author for this collection.

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