Literary Criticism | Functions of Criticism | Principles of Criticism

The word criticism is derived from a Greek word that means ‘Judgement.’ It is a task of judgment. Literary criticism is the exercise of judgment on works of literature. To study the excellencies and defects and eventually to judge the creative value is the function of criticism. It will not be so simple as it seems because we now have several conflicting views, theories, and definitions.

The cause of such variety brings out the complexity of the nature of criticism. Critics range in their perspectives, intellectual pre-occupation, prejudices, and predilections. A critic with religious beliefs and moral values will maintain a view consistent with his aesthetic appreciation.

The theory of criticism can be intently related to the idea of poetry.

The intellectual and ethical environment by which a poet will have an impact on their perspective and persona. Hence we see a change in criticism vis-à-vis improvement, social and behavioral sciences – psychological, sociologic, economic ideas bringing new method to criticism. Marxism gave rise to the Marxist concept of literary criticism. Existentialism after World War II known as existential criticism.

Read About: Marxism Literary Theory and Criticism in Literature

Functions of Literary Criticism

Literary criticism is the play of thoughts on literature and in asking questions and answering them. The function is in the best understanding and appreciation of the pleasure. Inquiry helps us assume rightly about literature. In this manner is built up a concept of literature.

The inquiry could also be directed toward a specific literature work, and distinctive qualities could also be examined. The matter, method, approach, and language are assessed. Specific guidelines could also be shaped and literary work concerned against them regarding different related works of literature. Thus, the reader is helped by a critic in the formation of the concept of literary merit.

The task of the author is facilitated within the process. Both indiscriminate praise and indiscriminate fault findings are bad.

Criticism is the science of forming and expressing appropriate judgment upon the value and merit of literary works. It is simply by criticism that intellectual appreciation and clear understanding turns possible.

S.M. Schreiber explains that The business of literary criticism is within the first instance to differentiate between a good book and a bad one and that achieved, to assist us in acknowledging for ourselves and in getting entire worth out of literary quality once we meet with it, thus opening up for us the world as a whole of enjoyment and imaginative experience and intellectual stimulus which is ready to be explored however which with no certified critic’s assist, we might not discover for ourselves.

Summing up, evaluation, interpretation, and clarification are now thought of as the chief features of literary criticism. It is an exercise of a many-sided kind; it could encompass theorizing or judging, legislating, or appreciating.

Principles of Literary Criticism

Every literary work has three components; matter, manner, and capability to please (aesthetic pleasure). Earlier, critics devised rules by which technical excellence – plot development, diction, style, meter, and language – of literary work. These rules have all the time modified with time. The essential quality of literature will not be how rigidly such rules are adopted; however, enchantment to the creativeness. Human nature and subsequently ideas of literature are held universal and everlasting.

Here we now have three principles:

Principle of Truth

It is the ultimate test of merit. Here we should keep in mind that literature’s truth is entirely different from the reality of science or logic. Poetic truth is the reality of the idea, the generalized experience that forms the content of art that should conform to the human race’s generalized expertise.

Principle of Symmetry

This precept implies proper selection and association of material. The writer should choose some aspects of reality and never all truth, and then his material needs to be so organized as to throw the selected elements of reality into sharp relief. The critic should study if the assorted aspects of the composition are initially associated with one another or not, whether or not they’re proportionate to one another, and the composition as a whole or not.

Principle of Idealization

The selection made for innovative treatment needs to be so constructed that an unpleasant aspect to the reader’s aesthetic consciousness is saved away or minimized by the advantage of which a work of art provides pleasure.

Qualifications for a Critic

First, he must be a person of excessive sensitivity, good common sense understanding style, and clear thinking.

Secondly, he has to be extensively read, probably in lots of languages.

Thirdly, he will need to have proper training and technical talent within the different branches of literature.

Fourthly he should rise above all prejudices and predilections, personal, spiritual, nationwide, political, and so forth.

Fifthly, the critic will need to have imaginative sympathy. He has to grasp the true meaning and purpose of the author. He should see issues from the author’s perspective.

Sixthly, he will need to have good information on human psychology. Literature is the mirror of life, and information about life is crucial.

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