Greek Literary Criticism

Greek Literary Criticism

Greek Literary Criticism

Greek Literary Criticism

Excerpt

Literary criticism is a term not easy to define. In the more limited sense it is the attempt to determine what literature is good and what bad: to discover wherein the goodness or badness consists: and perhaps also to supplement the purely scholastic interpretation of literature by an elucidation of its deeper artistic significance. But it is difficult, or impossible either to confine the critic wholly within these bounds or to preserve them as his private domain. All around him are neighbours on whom he is at times tempted to encroach, and they on him: the aesthetic philosopher, who tries to discover the essential nature of beauty in the abstract: the moral and political philosophers, who investigate the effect of that beauty on the individual and on the state: the textual scholar, who tries to restore in their integrity the exact words of the works which the critic judges, and in the process must necessarily take into account style as well as manuscript authority: the commentator, whose linguistic and grammatical interpretation of literature cannot be kept entirely separate from its aesthetic exposition: the teacher of literary technique, who, if he is to help people to write well in the future, must learn by what means they wrote well in the past.

In a book like this, it is desirable for many reasons to cover the wider field: first and foremost, because literary criticism of the narrower type occupies quite a subordinate place in Greek literature. It did not often occur to an ancient Greek to say: "I like this work: let us consider why." At any rate, not much was written in Greek with . . .

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