Literary Criticism: A New History

Literary Criticism: A New History

Literary Criticism: A New History

Literary Criticism: A New History


A THE Book of the WeekHow many people know that Aristotle thought the best tragedies were those which ended happily? Or that the first mention of the motor car in literature may have been in 1791 in Boswell's Life of Johnson? Or that it was not unknown in the nineteenth century for book reviews to be 30,000 words long!These are just a few of the fascinating facts to be found in this absorbing history of literary criticism. From the Ancient Greek period to the present day you learn about critics' lives, the times in which they lived and how the same problems of interpretation and valuation persist through the ages. In this lively and engaging book, Gary Day questions whether the 'theory wars' of recent years have lost sight of literature itself, and makes surprising connections between criticism and a range of subjects, including the rise of money. General readers will appreciate this informative, intriguing and often provocative account of the history of literary criticism; students will value the clear way in which it puts criticism into context; and academics will enjoy getting to grips with this challenge to the prevailing view about the nature of current theory. Key Features:
• The author is a well-known writer and critic, and has been a regular contributor to the Times Higher
• Integrates a wide range of writers, critics and texts into a continuous history
• Passionately defends the idea of the 'literary'


Read not to contradict, and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, some few to be chewed and digested. (Francis Bacon)

The opinions prevalent in one age, as truths above the reach of controversy, are confuted and rejected in another, and rise again to reception in remoter times. Thus the human mind is kept in motion without progress. (Samuel Johnson)

To ascertain the master current in the literature of an epoch, and to distinguish this from all minor currents, is one of the critic's highest functions. (Matthew Arnold)

All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour and the books of all time. (John Ruskin)

I consider criticism merely a preliminary excitement, a statement of things a writer has to clear up in his own head sometime or other, probably antecedent to writing; of no value unless it come to fruit in the created work later. (Ezra Pound) . . .

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