Thursday, September 22, 2011

On (Literary) Criticism

The following is taken from David Cecil's Library Looking-Glass: A Personal Anthology. Cecil is speaking here of literary criticism but I believe the same could be said of any criticism of arts and culture:


[the literary critic's] aim should be to interpret the work they are writing about and to help readers to appreciate it, by defining and analysing those qualities that make it precious and by indicatiing the angle of vision from which its beauties are visible.
But many critics do not realise their function. They aim not to appreciate but to judge; they seek first to draw up laws about literature and then to bully readers into accepting these laws ... [but] you cannot force taste on someone else, you cannot argue people into enjoyment.


Quite.

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