Training in Literary Appreciation

Training in Literary Appreciation

Training in Literary Appreciation

Training in Literary Appreciation

Excerpt

Literature, like life, is not to be defined. We may study it, note its forms and signs, feel its rhythmic throb; but we can never say exactly in what it consists. As soon as we think that we have found a satisfactory definition, there comes an awkward but undeniable exception to put us to confusion. Literature defies the foot-rule, and any attempt to treat it as if it were an exact science is bound to fail.

It is, however, equally mistaken and pernicious to suppose that because we cannot acquire the ability to tell a good book from a bad one by some process akin to that by which we analyze a salt or extract the roots of a quadratic equation, the task must therefore be given up as altogether hopeless. The average reader sadly needs guidance, and the failure of some of the older methods does not justify the assumption that it is impossible to meet this need. It is, indeed, a most dangerous heresy which says that there is nothing to be done for the reader but to impart to him a knowledge of the rudiments, and then leave him to work out his own salvation as best he may. The result of that policy is seen to-day, when we have a very few readers of discrimination, and a . . .

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