The Lamp and the Lute: Studies in Six Modern Authors

The Lamp and the Lute: Studies in Six Modern Authors

The Lamp and the Lute: Studies in Six Modern Authors

The Lamp and the Lute: Studies in Six Modern Authors

Excerpt

The tendency of criticism to-day is away from one of pure aesthetic towards one of values. It is even stated that the critic of literature, however much he may desire to stick to art, is bound sooner or later to find himself stepping over his fence into the domain of ethics. I am not so sure. I am inclined to believe that delight may in itself be a positive value, the weight and workings of which in the domain of ethics it is impossible to determine. At all events, I do not feel myself competent to wander in the ethical domain, nor very desirous of doing so. The point of interest for me has been to determine what the work of various writers is about, namely what it is that has troubled their minds enough to impel them insistently to write of it. This might, in the old days, when criticism concerned itself with morals, have been called their message, but the idea of a message is somewhat discredited these days. Yet the idea can be made respectable if we refer to their 'attitude towards life', or their 'sense of values'. But since this is not arrived at by reasoning alone, the word I prefer to use throughout these studies is 'intuition'.

By intuition I do not mean anything mystic or marvellous; I do not wish to have any truck with a fourth dimension, or a sixth sense, nor do I wish to dally with any doctrine of inspiration. By intuition I mean merely the recognition that a thing is so, and not otherwise. In its simplest form, for instance noting that this table is bigger than that chair, and . . .

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