The Criticism of Literature

The Criticism of Literature

The Criticism of Literature

The Criticism of Literature

Excerpt

Criticism, wrote Henri Frédéric Amiel, "is above all a gift, an intuition, a matter of tact and flair; it cannot be taught or demonstrated,--it is an art." In the face of such a statement, a book like this may seem an impertinence. But after conducting for five years, for college juniors and seniors, the course in literary criticism out of which this book has grown, I have become convinced that there is a place for a study of the characteristics of literature and of the fundamental principles of good criticism. And after all, we have schools for the teaching of the other arts. Why, then, should we not learn how to criticise? Some of those who study will be looking toward criticism as a profession; some will be present or prospective teachers of literature, who wish to help their students to understand great writing; some will belong to that large group of general readers, who desire fundamental principles to guide them toward an appreciation and a real enjoyment of the classics and a discriminating reading of current books. To all of these I hope this book will be of service.

The material in the text and in the exercises has been tested in the classroom and found practical. The illustrations and the selections suggested for study have been drawn both from older and from contemporary writing. The teacher who uses this book will be wise to add other passages of his own choosing. A plan which I have found successful, but which it was impossible to follow in the book because of the necessity of documenting all quotations, is to give to the class passages of prose and poetry . . .

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