Notebook, 1991-95


Criticism / Criterion

Analysis, Judgment, Censure . . . . Comment, Discussion, Article, Review . . . . Essay, Study, Reconstruction . . . . Appraisel, Evaluation, Authentication . . . . Merits and Faults . . . .

Criterion - A standard of judgment or criticism; an established rule or principle for testing anything . . . . Measure, Touchstone, Test . . . .

Criticism [The New Columbia Encyclopedia. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975.]
NOTE - The following is an index for subjects discussed in the text below:

Literary Forms:
Dialogues [Plato, John Dryden],
Verse [Horace, Alexander Pope],
Letters [John Keats]
Essays [Matthew Arnold, W. H. Auden]
Treatises [Philip Sydney, Percy Bysshe Shelley].

Delineation of two major types of criticism: theoretical and practical

Categories of Criticism:

St. Augustine and St. Jerome [the Bible]
Samuel Johnson and H. H. Furness [Shakespeare]
F. J. Furnival [early English texts]
Aristotle [Poetics]
Horace [Ars Poetica]
Longinus [On The Sublime]
Dramatic unities: time, setting and plot [Aristotle]

Philip Sydney [Defense of Poetry]
Julius Caesar Scaliger [Poetics]
John Dryden [Essay of Dramatic Poetry]
Alexander Pope [Essay on Criticism]
Samuel Johnson [Lives of the Poets] [1779-81]
William Wordsworth [Lyrical Ballads] [1800]
Biographical criticism
Samuel Taylor Coleridge [Biographia Literaria] [1817]
John Keats [Letters]
Percy Bysshe Shelley [Defense of Poetry] [1821]
Matthew Arnold
Edgar Allan Poe [The Poetic Principle] [1850]
Walter Pater [Studies in the History of the Renaissance] [1873]
Arthur Symons [The Symbolist Movement in Literature] [1899]
Henry James [The Art of Fiction][1893]
M. H. Abrams [The Mirror and the Lamp] [1953]

Four Relationships:
Mimetic, the work's connection to reality
Pragmatic, its effect on the audience
Expressive, its connection to the author
Objective, the work as an independent, self-sufficient creation

Freudian analysis
Carl Jung's theory of the collective unconscious
Anthropological methodology
T. S. Eliot [The Sacred Wood, 1920]
Northrop Frye[Anatomy of Criticism, 1957]
A. Richards [Practical Criticism] [1929]
The notion of a poem as an autonomous art object
Cleanth Brooks
Allen Tate
Lionel Trilling
John Crowe Ransom
Robert Penn Warren
Edmund Wilson [Triple Thinkers, 1938]
W. H. Auden The Dyer's Hand, 1962]
George Steiner [Language and Silence, 1970]

Music and art criticism
G. B. Shaw's music reviews in the London press of the 1880's
Alfred Einstein [Mozart [1945]
Charles Rosen's Classical Style [1971]
Robin George Collingwood [Principles of Art [1938]
Andrè Malroux [Voices of Silence [1952]
John Canaday's weekly reviews of museum and gallery exhibits
Clement Greenberg,
Barbara Rose
Hilton Kramer

Notable film critics include:
James Agee,
André Bazin
Pauline Kael
Ada Louise Huxtable's architecture criticism
Louis Mumford [Studies of the city]

Criticism, the interpretation and evaluation of literature and the arts. It exists in a variety of literary forms: dialogues [Plato, John Dryden], verse [Horace, Alexander Pope], letters [John Keats], essays [Matthew Arnold, W. H. Auden], and treatises [Philip Sydney, Percy Bysshe Shelley]. There are several categories of criticism: theoretical, practical, textural, judicial, biographical, and impressionistic. One of the most laborious and exacting kinds is textural criticsm, which is the comparision of different texts and versions of particular works with the aim of arriving at an incorrupt "master version." This has been perhaps most familiar over the centuries in biblical criticism. Textural critics of note include St. Augustine and St. Jerome [the Bible], Samuel Johnson and H. H. Furness [Shakespeare], and F. J. Furnival [early English texts]. From its beginning criticism has concerned philosophers. Plato raised the question of the authenticity of poetic knowledge in the Ion, in which both poet and performer are forced to admit ignorance about the source of their inspiration or the function of their craft. In his Poetics, Aristotle focused on tragic drama to discover its effect--the purgation of the audience's emotions [see Tragedy]. Roman civilization produced two critics who were poets rather than philosophers. Horace declared in the Ars Poetica [c. 13 B.C.] that poetry must be "dulce et utile"- "sweet and useful." In his On The Sublime [1st cent. A.D.] the Greek Longinus presented the view that poetry must be the divine inspired utterance of the poet's impassioned soul. Interestingly, each of these pronouncements was an accurate description of the author's own work rather than a set of rules for all poetry. Thus, the ancients can be credited with delineating the two major types of criticism: theoretical, which attempts to state general principles about the value of art [Plato, Aristotle], and practical, which examines the particular works, genres, or writers in light of theoretical criteria [Horace, Longinus]. Renaissance critics ignored their recent heritage--the medieval attitude toward art as a form of prayer--and looked to the classics, Aristotle's works in particular, for usable models. Philip Sydney maintained in his Defense of Poetry [1595] that poetry must engage and uplift the emotions of its audience with "heart ravishing knowledge." In his Poetics [1561] the Italian critic Julius Caesar Scaliger transformed Aristotle's description of the dramatic unities of time, setting and plot into exigencies, strictly adhered to by the neoclassical dramatists of 17th-century France and England. John Dryden, the master critic of Restoration England, upheld neoclassical standards, adding his own emphasis. In his Essay of Dramatic Poetry [1668] he justified the use of rhyme in tragedy by arguing that drama was the work of a poet, not a transcription of random conversation. In his Essay on Criticism [1711] Alexander Pope added an important section on the criticism of critics: those who do their job best always "survey the Whole, not seek slight faults to find." Because the general tone of criticism of this period was prescriptive, it is called judicial criticism. Samuel Johnsons Lives of the Poets [1779-81] was the first thorough-going exercise in biographical criticism, the attempt to relate a writer's background and life to his works. The revolution from neoclassicism to romanticism was first outlined by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who emphasized the importance of emotion and imagination in literature. In his Preface to the Second Edition of the Lyrical Ballads [1800], Wordsworth described the lyric as "emotion recollected in tranquility," whereas Coleridge, in his Biographia Literaria [1817] defined imagination as "the repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation," rather than as a mere mechanical flight of fancy. The radical shift in emphasis was further delineated by John Keats in his Letters and by ^Percy Bysshe Shelley in his Defense of Poetry [1821] - "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Diverse trends marked the criticism of the mid-19th century. The didacticism of Matthew Arnold, who held that the aims of literature should be "high seriousness" and a "criticism of life," was "countered by Edgar Allan Poe in The Poetic Principle [1850], by Walter Pater in Studies in the History of the Renaissance [1873], and by Arthur Symons in The Symbolist Movement in Literature [1899]. These critics celebrated art for art's sake, with no moral strings attached. Henry James, an important novelist and critic of the novel, stressed the possibilities of point of view for further developing the narrative form in his essay "The Art of Fiction" [1893]. The emphasis in criticism of this period on the reaction of the critic to the work under scrutiny led to the use of the term impressionistic criticism. However, as the American critic M. H. Abrams has pointed out in The Mirror and the Lamp [1953], all criticism, no matter what its form, type, or provenance, emphasizes one of four relationships: the mimetic, the work's connection to reality; the pragmatic, its effect on the audience; the expressive, its connection to the author; and the objective, the work as an independent, self-sufficient creation. The 20th cent. has been called the Age of Criticism. Such major disciplines as psychology and anthropology, and such ideologies as Christian theology and Marxist dialectic, were found to have valid application to works of literature. Freudian analysis became a tool for literary biographers. Carl Jung's theory of the collective unconscious also became a tool, along with anthropological methodology, for critics like T. S. Eliot [in The Sacred Wood, 1920] and Northrop Frye [in Anatomy of Criticism, 1957], who sought to trace similarities of pattern in literature of disparate cultures and ages. I. A. Richards used techniques of psychological measurement to examine reader response with new precision, notably in Practical Criticism [1929]. By means of the so-called New Criticism--the technique of close reading--such critics as Cleanth Brooks, Allen Tate, Lionel Trilling, John Crowe Ransom, and Robert Penn Warren revived the notion of a poem as an autonomous art object. Notable among academic and journalistic critics who used a combination of critical approaches to enlighten their readers are Edmund Wilson [in such works as The Triple Thinkers, 1938], W. H. Auden [in The Dyer's Hand, 1962], and George Steiner [in Language and Silence, 1970]. There have been a variety of critical trends in music and art criticism also. The approach has ranged from practical to theoretical, from G. B. Shaw's music reviews in the London press of the 1880's to treatises like Alfred Einstein's Mozart [1945] and Charles Rosen's Classical Style [1971]. And the spectrum of art criticism includes such works as Robin George Collingwood's Principles of Art [1938], André Malroux's Voices of Silence [1952], and John Canaday's weekly reviews of museum and gallery exhibits. With the decline of representational art and the rise of cubism, abstract expressionism, and minimal art, art critics seem to have proliferated, with critics like Clement Greenberg, Barbara Rose, and Hilton Kramer among the most influential. Newer areas for critical scrutiny include film, architecture, and urban planning. Notable film critics include James Agee, Andre Bazin, and Pauline Kael. Ada Louise Huxtable's architecture criticism and Louis Mumford's studies of the city have broken new ground for critical scrutiny. See George Saintsbury, A History of Criticism [3 vol., 1961]; F. C. Crews, The Pooh Perplex [1963]; René Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism [4 vol., 195565]; W. C. Greene, The Choices of Criticism[1965]

[Harris, William H., and Judith S. Levey, eds. The New Columbia Encyclopedia. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975.]

R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S 
Criticism 1. the act or art of analyzing and judging the quality of something, esp. a literary or artistic work, musical performance, dramatic production, etc. 2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding. 3. a critical comment, article, or essay; critique. 4. any of various methods of studying texts or documents for the purpose of dating or reconstructing them, evaluating their authenticity, etc. -Syn. 2. animadversion. 3. See review.

Criticize 1. to make judgments as to merits and faults. 2. to find fault. -v.t. 23. to judge or discuss the merits and faults of. 4. to censure or find fault with. -Syn. 2. cavil, censure. 3. appraise. 4. condemn, blame.

Critique 1. an article or essay criticizing a literary, architectural, or some other work; review. 2. a criticism or critical comment on some problem, subject, etc. [< F < GK kritik(é) the art of criticism, n. use of fem. of kritikós critical; r. critic]

Criterion a standard of judgment or criticism; an established rule or principle for testing anything [< KG kritérion a standard = krit- (verbid s. of krinein to separate, decide) + -érion neut. suffix of means] -Syn. measure, touchstone, test. See standard.

Critic 1. 1 person who judges, evaluates, or criticizes. 2. a person who customarily, as for his occupation, judges the qualities or merits of some class of things, exp. of literary or artistic works, dramatic or musical performances, etc. 3. a person who tends too readily to make captious, trivial, or harsh judgments. 4. Obs. a. criticism. b. critique. [< L critic(us) < GK kritikós skilled in judging [adj.], critic [n.] = krí(nein) (to) separate, decide + -tikos -TIC] -Syn. 2. reviewer, judge, connoisseur.

[Urdang, Laurence, ed. Random House Dictionary of The English Language. New York: Random House, 1968.]



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