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Intentional Fallacy

Key Theories of Wimsatt and Beardsley

In addition to their other works, the critic Wimsatt (1907–1975) and the philosopher Beardsley (1915–1985) produced two influential and controversial papers that propounded central positions of New Criticism, “The Intentional Fallacy” (1946) and The Affective Fallacy (1949). In the first of… Read More ›

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Intentional Fallacy

One of the critical concepts of New Criticism, “Intentional Fallacy” was formulated by Wimsatt and Beardsley in an essay in The Verbal Icon (1946) as the mistake of attempting to understand the author’s intentions when interpreting a literary work. Claiming… Read More ›

New Criticism: An Essay

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.

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