Twentieth-century literary criticism and theory has comprised a broad range of tendencies and movements: a humanistic tradition, descended from nineteenth-century writers such as Matthew Arnold and continued into the twentieth century through figures such as Irving Babbitt and F. R…. Read More ›
Modern Narrative Theory begins with Russian Formalism in the 1920s, specifically with the work of Roman Jakobson, Yury Tynyanov, and Viktor Shklovsky. Tynyanov combined his skills as a historical novelist with Formalism to produce, with Jakobson, Theses on Language (1928),… Read More ›
New Criticism and Modernism emerged out of a world that was perceived as fragmented, with the Enlightenment ideals of rationality, progress and justice discredited; the artist alienated from the social and political world, and art and literature marginalised. The vast… Read More ›
FR Leavis’ The Great Tradition (1948), an uncompromising critical and polemical survey of English fiction, controversially begins thus: “The great English novelists are Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James and Joseph Conrad!” He regards these writers as the best because… Read More ›
F. R. Leavis became the major single target for the new critical theory of the 1970s. Both Raymond Williams in Politics and Letters (1979) and Terry Eagleton in Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983) bear witness to his enormous, ubiquitous influence in English Studies from the 1930s… Read More ›
The New Critical notion of the autotelic text as self-contained and independent of the author, genre or historical context, was associated with Arnold’s insistence on objectivity and Eliot’s on impersonality. Such a text that contains meaning within itself is humanist… Read More ›
New Critics attempted to systematize the study of literature, and develop an approach that was centred on the rigorous study of the text itself. Thus it was distinctively formalist in character, focusing on the textual aspects of the text such as rhythm, metre, imagery and metaphor, by the method of close reading, as against reading that on the basis of external evidences such as the history, author’s biography or the socio-political/cultural conditions of the text’s production. Although the New Critics were against Coleridge’s Impressionistic Criticism, they seem to have inherited his concept of the poem as a unified organic whole which reconciles its internal conflicts and achieves a fine balance.