New Criticism’s Relation to Modernism

New Criticism and Modernism emerged out of a world that was perceived as fragmented, with the Enlightenment ideals of rationality, progress and justice discredited; the artist alienated from the social and political world, and art and literature marginalised. The vast devastation, psychologIcal demoralisation and economic depression consequent to the war intensified rejection of.the bourgeoisie modes… Read More New Criticism’s Relation to Modernism

FR Leavis’ Concept of Great Tradition

FR Leavis’  (1948), an uncompromising critical and polemical survey of English fiction, controversially begins thus: “The great English novelists are Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James and Joseph Conrad!’ He regards these writers as the best because they not only “change the possibilities of art for practitioners and readers”, but also promote an “awareness of… Read More FR Leavis’ Concept of Great Tradition

Moral formalism: F. R. Leavis

F. R. Leavis became the major single target for the new critical theory of the 1970s. Both Raymond Williams in Politics and Letters (1979) and Terry Eagleton in Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983) bear witness to his enormous, ubiquitous influence in English Studies from the 1930s onwards. Apropos of Leavis’s The Great Tradition (1948), Williams remarks that by the early 1970s, in… Read More Moral formalism: F. R. Leavis

Autotelic Text: A Brief Note

The New Critical notion of the autotelic text as self-contained and independent of the author, genre or historical context, was associated with Arnold’s insistence on objectivity and Eliot’s on impersonality. Such a text that contains meaning within itself is humanist and renders itself to close reading, based on formal devices such as irony, ambiguity, paradox,… Read More Autotelic Text: A Brief Note