Main Currents in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism: A Critical Study

Main Currents in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism: A Critical Study

Main Currents in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism: A Critical Study

Main Currents in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism: A Critical Study

Excerpt

This critical presentation of the main twentieth century approaches to literature is not a history of criticism or of literary critics. It is an exposition of some of the most promising paths that literary criticism has marked for the study of literary creations and of the problems of literature in general.

Literary criticism is a problematic concept. Its meaning varies and it may appear in a number of contexts: impressionistic, relativistic, interpretative, textual, linguistic, biographical, historical, comparative, ethical, judicial, etc. This last type reveals the original meaning of the term criticism, which is evaluation and judgment. The typology and differentiation of literary criticism according to its particular perspective is based on the numerous angles from which literary works can be viewed (i.e. historical, psychological, sociological, etc.) This systematization, together with its striving for generalizations, indicates that literary criticism is a scientific endeavor—as this term is usually employed in the social sciences. At the same time, individual critical works might contain certain artistic properties to the extent that some of them (e.g. Sartre's Saint Genet) resemble literary creations.

In general, the products of literary criticism are neither exclusively 'scientific' nor 'purely' artistic because both elements often co-exist, although one or the other may occasionally predominate. Literary criticism then should be considered both as scientific and artistic in nature, aiming, on the one hand, at the description, interpretation and evaluation of literary works, and on the other, at the establishment of principles and the construction of theories which are applicable to these works. The fact that this definition is linked with the literary work alone does not mean that the latter's creator and other significant factors directly and/or indirectly related to it are excluded by the term as it is employed here. Its wider meaning, however, cannot be confined to a restricted definition ; it will appear as this concept will be used in the eleven . . .

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