Principles of Literary Criticism (Routledge Classics)

PDF EBook by Ivor A. Richards

EBook Description

It's weird to finally actually read I. Principles of Literary Criticism (Routledge Classics) PDF EBookA. Richards, after essentially being saturated in approaches drawn from his writing (and from the New Critics, and from those who came after them) for something like my entire educational career. Certainly I now see where a lot of things I regard as integral to reading literature came from, or at least received a famous articulation: reading a work on its own terms, particularly, noting as we do so tensions within a particular piece. Although Richards does address ambiguity, which is central to the New Criticism, he does so briefly. Also, much of the book is interested in aligning this mode of criticism with contemporary theories of psychology and what I will imprecisely call brain science. With some exceptions, Richards is pretty judicious with this material—and by "judicious," I of course mean "he does it in a way that I mostly agree with." Richards is less judicious in a series of snap judgments that appear throughout the book—this poem is obviously good, this one bad. This I could have learned to live without.
There's also a lot here I wasn't expecting—this is a big book, with content that I suspect I'll need another few readings to fathom fully. Although I hate in general the kind of criticism that compares reading poetry to, say, looking at a picture, Richards is so slow and careful in developing these analogies that I found myself won over—and even with new things to notice in paintings and sculptures, to boot.
Why read this book? Firstly, I really do think it will make you a better reader of poetry, even if you've seen these ideas a thousand times—or maybe particularly if you have, since remaining focused on the basic, the obvious, and so the essential is often difficult the more you know about a topic in depth. Within these techniques of reading (Richards calls the book a "machine for thinking") are several interesting binaries, which I hope to use in my consideration of poetry in the future—his division of the "critical" and the "technical," between what a work of art conjures up and what it is physically made of, is something that I think would reward future consideration. There's even a consideration of the raw practicality of literature, in encouraging efficient communication in a way Richards compares favourably to mass media advertising, that our beleaguered departments of literature might do well to at least consider as we survey what, exactly, it is that we offer to students. I don't want to make it seem like Richards is some sort of revanchist future for literary studies: much has been written since it, and we need to read that as well. (As Richards himself says, research moves forward.) But there's much here that I believe is complementary to all sorts of literary studies—as, indeed, this work, and the approaches it engendered, has been. Like this book? Read online this: Franklin Richards, Classical Literary Criticism.

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