INTRODUCTION

Criticism . . . must always profess an end in view, which, roughly speaking, appears to be the elucidation of works of art and the correction of taste. The critic's task, therefore, appears to be quite clearly cut out for him; and it ought to be comparatively easy to decide whether he performs it satisfactorily, and in general, what kinds of criticism are useful and what are otiose. But on giving the matter a little attention, we perceive that criticism, far from being a simple and orderly field of beneficent activity, from which impostors can readily be ejected, is no better than a Sunday park of contending and contentious orators, who have not even arrived at the articulation of their differences. Here, one would suppose, was a place for quiet co-operative labour. The critic, one would suppose, if he is to justify his existence, should endeavour to discipline his personal prejudices and cranks -- tares to which we are all subject -- and compose his differences with as many of his fellows as possible, in the common pursuit of true judgment. When we find that quite the contrary prevails, we begin to suspect that the critic owes his livelihood to the violence and extremity of his opposition to other critics, or else to some trifling oddities of his own with which he contrives to season the opinions which men already hold, and which out of vanity or sloth they prefer to maintain. We are tempted to expel the lot.

-xi-

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Attitudes to Criticism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Crosscurents Modern Critiques i
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - The Possibility of Relevance 3
  • 2 - Strategic Selection: Criticism by Choice of Terms 38
  • 3 - The Rationalist Ideal 66
  • 4 - The Limits of Relevance 101
  • Appendix A Burke's Method in Action 139
  • Appendix B Winters and Eliot 145
  • Notes 153
  • Index 171
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