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Practical Criticism: A Study Of Literary Judgment Paperback – February 23, 1956


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (February 23, 1956)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156736268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156736268
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Ivor Armstrong Richards (26 February 1893 in Sandbach, Cheshire – 7 September 1979 in Cambridge) was an influential English literary critic and rhetorician. His books, especially The Meaning of Meaning, Principles of Literary Criticism, Practical Criticism, and The Philosophy of Rhetoric, proved to be founding influences for the New Criticism. The concept of 'practical criticism' led in time to the practices of close reading, what is often thought of as the beginning of modern literary criticism. Richards is regularly considered one of the founders of the contemporary study of literature in English.

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on October 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
In PRACTICAL CRITICISM, I. A. Richards develops a theory of poetic criticism that would later be termed the New Criticism. At the time of its publication in 1929, his ideas were not terribly new but for the first time he formalized a set of rules that allowed a reader of poetry to deconstruct a poem using nothing more than the words on the page. In our current age of deconstruction, New Historicism, Freudianism, feminism, Marxism, post-colonial studies and the like such a quaint notion that the critic need not poke in the cultural subtexts that might be lurking in the margins seems amazingly unsophisticated. In fact, today's victim, gender, and race methodology of literary criticism suggests that even to assert the possibility that words on paper possess Eternal Truths is also to paint the scarlet letter of A (anti-liberal) squarely on the forehead of the critical miscreant.

Richards believed that poetry could be analyzed by a close reading of theme, symbol, tone, and any other literary device that used to be taught in Intro to Lit back in the day. He presents unidentified poems for the reader to analyze. Such an opportunity presents one with the task of using these New Critical skills to come to grips with the meaning of a poem. I found his approach a huge breath of fresh air and eminently worthwhile. Each time that I read of a modern theorist who insists that all readings are misreadings and that only a breakdown of the poem's binary polarities will unravel the Inner Meaning, I could retch. For the undergraduate who has not yet been inculcated with the demons of Derrida or the power assertions of Foucault, PRACTICAL CRITICISM is a must. For the teacher of that undergraduate, it is way too late.
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