Tuesday, August 21, 2018

In praise of criticism …

… A Critic’s Ars Poetica - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The critic is a reader before he is a writer, a spirited lover of literature, and criticism is one important use to which he puts his reading and his love. To sit before literature in appreciation and awe, to want to have some hand in facilitating literature’s efficacy, to comprehend that literature is, in Kenneth Burke’s phrase, “equipment for living,” a means of enlargement and enhancement and understanding: these are the critic’s prerequisites. He is leashed to no theory, no ideology, no asphyxiating –ism. Like the poet and novelist, he is of no party. His sole loyalty, with Horace and Wilde, is to the duet of beauty and wisdom, to what is well made and usefully wise, to the defense of what is daring and the dismissal of what is not.

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure a critic is leashed to no theory. To my mind, the best criticism emerges when the critic engages with the text on his own terms, giving the reader an idea of what he agrees with and why.