The Intent of the Critic
Ed. by PRINCETON UNIV. PRESS
THE present age has seen revolutionary changes in all the arts, so that it is natural that there should have been similar changes in critical theory and practice. There has been much discussion among various schools, ‘ not without dust and heat.’ But the important matter about criticism, as about art, is that it should be alive, and this book gives good evidence of that. It contains four essays by critics of very different tempera ments and opinions, illustrating four different approaches to the search for standards. Edmund Wilson deals with ‘The Historical Interpretation of Literature,’ Norman Foerster with ‘The Esthetic Judgment and the Ethical Judgment,’ John Crowe Ransom with ‘Criticism as Pure Speculation,’ and W. H. Auden with ‘Criticism in a Mass Society.’ The discussions, therefore, deal with critical theory and practice from the points of view of an historian, a metaphysician, a humanist, and an anthropologist. Their agreements and differences make stimulating reading, and they are excellently analyzed in a lively and lucid introduction. E.D.