To begin fresh critical reading, consider the question, "How does this piece work?" Look for textual complications such as paradoxes, ironies, and ambiguities. Find a unifying topic or subject that can help you reconcile these difficulties. M.H. Abrams. "New Criticism." A Literary Terminology Glossary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1959.
The old criticism is dead. Long live the new! --J. Kenneth Galbraith
Criticism cannot be rejuvenated by simply repeating the mistakes of the past; rather, it must look to the future. --John Gardner
It is only by standing back from our own work that we are able to see its flaws transparently; only then can we make necessary changes. --William Gass
Criticism is the handmaiden of poetry. She opens up the locked doors of perception and shows us the treasures inside. Then she goes about her business of revealing what's there to be seen and felt. --Diane Leblanc
Criticism is the gentle art of causing pain to those who interest me. --Graham Greene
Criticism is the least valuable part of an author's work. It would be better if they didn't publish it at all than listen to critics' opinions on it. --Haruki Murakami
The New Critics argued that the text's structure and meaning were inextricably linked and should not be studied independently. The New Critics searched for contradiction, ambiguity, irony, and tension in addition to the topic to assist determine the one best and most cohesive reading of the text. Unlike the Old Critics who focused on authorial intent, the New Critics believed that the original audience and context were equally if not more important in determining how to interpret a work.
New critics also tried to avoid explaining every detail of the text's structure and meaning. They believed that such an approach was unnecessary and could even be harmful because it prevented readers from discovering what they otherwise might have missed. Finally, new critics tended to disregard aesthetic considerations when interpreting works of literature. They believed that such matters were beyond the scope of literary study and could only be determined by reference to other texts or outside facts.
New criticism arose in the late 19th century with the work of George Herbert Mead, Richard Ellmann, and Lewis Nichols. These critics attempted to apply the methods of philology (the science of language analysis) to literature. Like many scholars before them, they believed that interpretation depended primarily on finding the right context for a text.
Mead used this belief as the basis for his "interpretive theory of knowledge", which proposed that meaning can be known only through experience.
New Criticism, which incorporates Formalism, investigates the connections between a text's ideas and its form; what a text says and how it expresses it. "This connection may contain tension, irony, or contradiction," according to New Critics, "but it is generally resolved into wholeness and coherence of meaning" (Biddle 100). By studying texts closely, examining their language use and intellectual context, New Critics were able to discern such connections and resolve any tensions or contradictions inherent in them.
New Critics believe that interpretation depends on intuition rather than logic. In other words, readers instinctively grasp the connections between elements within a text, as well as the overall meaning they create together. To explain this process, New Critics often refer to "the authority of reading." That is, just like scholars are obligated to follow certain procedures when analyzing texts, so too are readers required to exercise judgment when interpreting works of art. For example, when considering the meaning of a poem, a reader might consider the tone, imagery, syntax, and other features, but ultimately must let his/her intuitions guide him/her. It is only after many readings that an expert can arrive at a definitive conclusion about the poem's intended message.
New Critics also emphasize the importance of context in understanding texts. They believe that readers must examine all aspects of a work's history before coming to any conclusions about what it means.
It emphasizes paying strict attention to the text's inherent qualities and discourages the use of external evidence to explain the work. The New Criticism technique focuses mostly on formal qualities like as rhythm, meter, subject, imagery, metaphor, and so on. These aspects help us understand how the author wanted us to feel about the work.
New critics also used the relationships between words in poems to help understand their meaning. They would compare two or more poems by the same author or artist to find similarities and differences in style and content. This was called "interpretation." The goal was to discover what kind of experience the reader/listener/viewer was supposed to have after reading/watching/ viewing a poem.
Finally, new critics tried to relate poems to each other. They would search for connections between poems by the same author or artist to show changes in tone or theme. For example, one poem might be sad, while another might be happy. Many modern poets are influenced by new criticism. They may choose specific lines from a poem to read at open mic nights or in classrooms because they want to encourage discussion about meaning and interpretation.
Critical approaches to literature demonstrate how or why a certain work is formed, as well as its social and cultural significance. Understanding critical viewpoints can help you see and appreciate a literary work as a multifaceted meaning construct. The approach used by scholars when analyzing texts from different periods or countries also helps them explain similarities and differences among them.
Approaches are important tools for understanding how literature functions within its historical context. Critical perspectives reveal much about society's values and beliefs at any given time, as well as about the human experience. Using these lens through which to view works of art, we are able to understand their relevance to our own lives.
Critical approaches include but are not limited to: psychoanalytic, feminist, Marxist, post-structuralist, historicist, and formalist. It is important to know that not all critics use all approaches, nor do they have to in order to be valuable contributors to the field. However, it does help if you have an open mind and aren't afraid to try new things.
In conclusion, approaches are important because they help us understand literary works in a broader context; this awareness leads to greater appreciation of the past and present.
Reading for analysis
The New Criticism attempted to establish certain rules for reading and interpreting texts. They wanted to make the whole thing more systematic—even scientific. And, in the process, New Criticism made literary analysis more democratic; man, power to the (book-loving) people.
The New Critics brought attention to a number of neglected or undervalued books by promoting them to high positions on university syllabi. This helped bring wider recognition to authors such as T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf. It also encouraged students to study literature in college courses, instead of merely reading for pleasure. Finally, they helped create a market for poetry and other formerly obscure genres of writing.
New Critical thinking has had an influence on many aspects of our culture. It still plays a role in academic criticism today. And the general attitude behind it has become accepted as the proper approach to reading great works of art: analyze, interpret, understand.
As we have seen, the New Critics believed that interpretation should be subjective. That is, the reader brings his or her own ideas to the text, and what matters is whether these interpretations are reasonable. A book can only be judged as good or bad literature, they said, not bad for you or good for you. The critics focused on understanding the work itself rather than its health benefits or lack thereof.