American Literary Criticism, 1900-1950

American Literary Criticism, 1900-1950

American Literary Criticism, 1900-1950

American Literary Criticism, 1900-1950

Excerpt

American literary criticism of the twentieth century seems to reveal no clear-cut line of progression. There is, however, a healthy ferment of change, coupled with a marked trend toward specialization. Criticism, a highly complex art, branches off into a number of different channels, each of which calls for a special kind of training and skill. Criticism, as it develops, becomes historical, textual, semantic, sociological, philosophical, and "scientific," each demanding its own apparatus of scholarship and appropriate technique. Only rarely are these different methods combined in a work which achieves a functional synthesis.

The object of this anthology is not to give a chronologically ordered history of American criticism during the twentieth century but to present material illustrative of some of the major tendencies that were operative in that field during this period of time. It is difficult to discover a single, continuing pattern, a steady flow of what might be called "progress," so that the criticism of 1910, say, would be considered a definite improvement upon the criticism of 1900. That is not the way literary criticism functions. There are currents and counter-currents, action and reaction, eddies and swirls and lengthy detours, but the river, when viewed from a sufficient height, follows a recognizable course. In modern American criticism the main emphases have been psychological, sociological, and aesthetic, though the formal, traditional methods of criticism have never been abandoned.

In presenting the essays included in this volume, there is a distinct advantage in adhering as far as possible to the historical method. It enables us to make some semblance of order out of the seeming confusion and heterogeneity of critical ideas and movements in any period. It discourages the tendency to sum up an age or even a decade by means of some glib generalization or simple formula. Such . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.