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Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgment Mass Market Paperback – 1963

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About the Author

I. A. Richards taught at Cambridge and Harvard universities. Among his many books are Foundations of Aesthetics, The Meaning of Meaning, Basic English and Its Uses, and Internal Colloquies: Poems and Plays.



Richard Hoggart, as professor of modern English literature at Birmingham University, founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. He has authored or edited over twenty-five books, including Between Two Worlds: Politics, Anti-Politics, and the Unpolitical, The Uses of Literacy, and The Tyranny of Relativism, all available from Transaction.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World /Harvest Books (1963)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007EYE2Y
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,911,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 23 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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