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Princ Literary Criticism V3 (I.A. Richards: Selected Works 1919-1938) Hardcover – 13 Dec 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (13 Dec. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415217342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415217347
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,848,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'To us Richards was infinitely more than a brilliantly new literary critic: he was our guide, our evangelist, who revealed to us, in a succession of astounding lightning flashes, the entire expanse of the Modern World.' - Christopher Isherwood --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

'To us Richards was infinitely more than a brilliantly new literary critic: he was our guide, our evangelist, who revealed to us, in a succession of astounding lightning flashes, the entire expanse of the Modern World.' - Christopher Isherwood

Ivor Armstrong Richards was one of the founders of modern literary criticism. He enthused a generation of writers and readers and was an influential supporter of the young T.S. Eliot. 'Principles of Literary Criticism' was the text that first established his reputation and pioneered the movement that became known as the 'New Criticism'. Through a powerful presentation of the need to read critically and creatively, with an alertness to the psychological and emotional effects of language, Richards presented a powerful new understanding both of literature and of the role of the reader. Highly controversial when first published, 'Principles of Literary Criticism' remains a work which no one with a serious interest in literature can afford to ignore.

I.A.Richards (1893-1979) was one of the most influential literary critics of the twentieth century. He taught at the University of Cambridge from 1922 before moving to Harvard University, where, from 1944, he was Professor of English Literature. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was conceived as an experiment.

Around 1930, IA Richards gave a group of Cambridge undergraduates a selection of poems, without any indication as to the poems' authorship, and invited them to give their responses. The result should be, and still is, a sobering reminder of what happens to our appreciation of literature (or any art) when we approach it without the usual frameworks of expectation. Mediocre poems by minor poets were warmly admired for their depth of feeling and their lushness of detail. Patriotic doggerel got a good reception, with the readers explaining away the badness of the poetry by assuming that it must mean something more than it appeared to mean. A sonnet by John Donne ('At the round earth's imagined corners'), whose critical stock at the time was as high as it's ever been, was regarded by many readers as a piece of simple-minded religiosity. Perhaps the most hated poem of all was a brief but moving poem by DH Lawrence about loss of innocence; at the time, Lawrence was one of the hippest of hip writers, and you can't help thinking that if only the readers had known it was by him, they would have regarded it very differently.

Practical Criticism is the funniest and most alarming works of academic lit-crit ever written, because in reading it, you can't help but think that you, too, would probably been as utterly wrong-headed as some of these readers are. It incidentally demonstrates that the Barthesian dream of the death of the author, while a lovely dream and even a worthy ideal, is an impossibility: most readers are incapable of giving a poem the attention it deserves unless the prestige of the author persuades them that it's worth it.

Watch out for editions. In the Kindle edition, the authorship of the poems is not disclosed. (Richards hid it at the back of the book, by printing the names in reverse; the Kindle edition omits this appendix entirely.) The 70s Routledge reprint includes the appendix.
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Format: Paperback
Richards is the Daddy of Literary Criticism, having entered Cambridge when English was not quite a 'proper' subject and he was one of those who established it on firm academic footings. This, in embryo, is the place in which was established the academic study of the subject in England; before him there were Arnold and Leslie Stephen, but neither practises anything like the close reading pioneered here. In this readable and fascinating book Richards explains his deceptively simple method: he presents a number of Cambridge students, from first year undergraduates to Phd candidates, 'protocols' by which he means unattributed although not necessarily obscure poems for commentary. The students then write an appraisal of the poem, explaining why they have valued it as they do. He then examines the responses and from them elucidates the judgements and nature of the manner the poetry is interpreted, in the process adumbrating the way texts are explored and noting the grounds for rigorous study. Merely to read how students respond to the poems, then how Richards' judges these responses is a joyful read in itself and not difficult. For the more serious the task of considering the criteria of literary criticism affords ample food for thought and some hard thinking. Without Richards no Empson or Leavis , no Kermode or James Wood. Written in a readable, plain style and refreshing as well as valuable. A landmark study that's also fun to read.
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Format: Paperback
Practical criticsm is possibly the best book on poetry criticsm ever written (the only book I know of that draws comparison with it is Ezra Pound's ABC of Reading, and even that falls short).
Anyone wishing to know something about poetry should read this book.
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Format: Paperback
An excellently articulated analysis of the processes that go on in our minds when we engage with ANY art form. I had expected the book to focus rather more on the literary aspects themselves, but instead it spends a great deal of pages discussing all art forms.

I had also expected the fineries of practical criticism to make up a greater part of the book. Instead it is argued rather more in a philosophical vein, and a very analytical, introspective and "wordy" philosophical vein at that.

Not an easy read for a beginner hoping to learn about how to "do" New Criticism. I would recommend for a more experienced reader interested in discovering the early developments in thought that ultimately lead to this approach to literature.
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Perfect
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