Passages Illustrating the Growth of an American Tradition of Criticism1
"I have always very much despised the artificial canons of criticism. When I have read a work in prose or poetry, or seen a painting, a statue, etc., I have only asked myself whether it gives me pleasure, whether it is animating, interesting, attaching. If it is, it is good for these reasons."-- THOMAS JEFFERSON (letter to William Wirt, November 12, 1816.)
"When I told Alcott that I would not criticize his compositions; that it would be as absurd to require them to conform to my way of writing and aiming, as it would be to reject Wordsworth because he was wholly unlike Campbell; that here was a new mind, and it was welcome to a new style; he replied, well pleased, 'That is criticism.'"-- EMERSON ( Journals, 1838).
"Beauty is its own excuse for being."-- EMERSON.
"This element [Beauty] I call an ultimate end. No reason can be asked or given why the soul seeks beauty. Beauty, in its largest and profoundest sense,____________________