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(1) New discoveries in psychology, anthropology, sociology, economic, etc., have brought about a revolution in critical methods with the result that modern criticism is quite different from criticism in the 19th century. Critics like I.A. Richards, T.S. Eliot, F.R. Leaves, William Epson, have provided entirely new interpretations of old writers, and presented them in an entirely new light.

(2) However, at the turn of the century there were two traditions- the Mathew Arnold tradition of intellectual, abstract or scientific criticism, and the aesthetic, impressionistic tradition of Walter Pater- that held the day. Difference between these two traditions is as follows.

(a) While Arnold made “high seriousness” and “criticism of life” the tests of poetry, Pater’s criticism aesthetic or impressionistic;

(b) While Arnold made art subservient to life, Pater advocated the theory of “art for art’s sake”.

(c) Arnold’s influence was an all-pervasive and continuing one. That is why Eliot once remarked that we seem still to be living in the critical tradition of Arnold. Pater, on the other hand, has been a source of inspiration for the “Bloomsbury group” of critics, as E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Starchy, and Clive Bell.

According to these critics, the enjoyment of art and the appreciation of beauty is the greatest good of human life, and art, therefore, must be freed from the shackles of morality.

Their criticism is impressionistic they assess a work of literature on the basis of the pleasure that it affords them.

(3) Literary criticism is largely academic, the work of distinguished university professors. They are eminent scholars, they painstakingly collect facts, biographical, historical and social, and evaluate a writer on the basis of these facts, but they lack a precise point of view. Chief among these scholar-critics are- George Sainsbury, Edward Dowden, A. C. Bradley, Oliver Elton, W.B. Ker, W.J. Court hope, etc.

(4) There is another group of scholars who devote their attention to textual-emendation. Distinguished scholars, like Furness, Dover Wilson, Gregg, Pollard, try to reach an authentic version of old texts.

(5) After World War I, English insularity was broken and ideas and influences from Europe began to flow in and affect the course of literary criticism in England. First, there was the influence of Marx and his concept of class struggle. Writers were analyzed and interpreted in terms of class-conflict.

For example, David Daiches in his book Society and Literature shows how economic trends are reflected in literature; Christopher Caudwell studies Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the other romantics, against the background of social and economic changes. Aestheticism of Pater is thus rejected and literature is viewed as a social activity reflecting the changing social and economic patterns.

(6) There was the potent influence of the Italian critic Benedetti Croce. According to his theory, vivid picture are constantly rising in the mind of the poet, and he must express them spontaneously and fully as they arise in his mind, without any attempts at organization.

(7) Expressionistic writing is bound to be broken and fragmentary in keeping with the fragmentary and chaotic nature of the vague sensation fleeting through the consciousness of the poet. The teaching of Croce had a far-reaching impact on creative and literary activity in England.

(8) Closely allied with Expressionism is the French theory of Surrealism. Surrealism attributes artistic creation of dreams and the influence of spirits who inspire the artist with his forms and images. Herbert Read is one of those critics whose works reveal the influence of this creed.

(9) English criticism is strengthened by the teachings of modern psychology, especially those of Freud, Jung and Bergson. Freud believed that suppression of the sex-instinct result in frustration and neurosis, and art is but a sublimated expression of this neurosis. Psychological theories were used for an analysis and interpretation of past writers and their works.

Thus Hamlet has been interpreted in the light of Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex. The motives and processes that lead to a particular work of art were studied and thus new dimensions were added to literary criticism.

(10) The impact of literature on the mind of the readers is sought to be explained in Psychological terms. I.A. Richards is the most outstanding of the critics of the psychological school. According to him, the pleasure of literature arises from the fact that it brings about a healthy equilibrium between the instincts and impulses of the readers.

(11) After the World War II, the most potent single influence was that of the “New Critics.” The term was first used by J.E. Spingarn, and though the New Criticism had its origin in the writings of T.E. Hulme, it is now mainly an American movement. Its chief exponents in America are Kenneth Burke, John Crowe Ransome, Allen Tate, Richard Blackmur, Cleanth Brooks, etc. In England its leading representatives are I.A. Richards, T.S. Eliot, F.R. Leaves, and William Epson etc.

(12) The New Critics are opposed to the biographical, historical, sociological, and comparative approach of conventional criticism. All such considerations are regarded as extrinsic and irrelevant, and a work of art is judged solely on its own merits.

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