Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

"Criticism" by Catherine Belsey (Profile Books, 2016)

Here are some quotes -

  • "Evaluation, so readily taken for granted as the first purpose of criticism, might in practice be its least helpful starting point" (p.6)
  • "I recoil slightly from assuming the poem needs outside help, or believing we make it ours by solving its puzzles" (p.21)
  • "Criticism necessarily involves judgements and not all of them are about the value of the work" (p.25)
  • "individuality, cultural difference and the diversity of values so impress themselves on our consciousness that what remains of a shared human nature is reducible to a handful of banalities" (p.44)
  • "Romanticism took for granted that the origins of the work could be found in the life of the writer" (p.50)
  • "Victorian promoters of English teaching consistently urged the moral influence of good authors" (p.68)
  • "From the textual perspective ... The job of the critic is to identify a range of options, without necessarily settling for the one, intended, authorised interpretation" (p.96)
  • "New Criticism took over ambiguity and made it safe by renaming it 'paradox'. Where ambiguity leaves differences unresolved, paradox reconciles antithetical meanings and dissolves incongruities in either irony or wonder" (p.102)
  • "New Critical preferences did not significantly challenge the canon in place at the time" (p.104)
  • "In my view, a major task that now faces criticism is to account for the romance of reading, the curious compulsion exercised by stories and poems" (p.143)

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