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

3.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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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: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,182,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent read for any artist (literary, visual, peforming, or otherwise), particularly those who are just beginning as much of the material may seem less than revolutionary to the "educated" artist. Richards' language is generally clear, and careful reading elucidates even the most convoluted of his passages. Overall an interesting book aside from a few chapters Richards spends chasing his own tail in an attempt to reconcile morality with desire.
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Format: Paperback
In the years preceding the publication of Principles of Literary Criticism (1924), I. A. Richards was watching the very foundation of literature change or perhaps unravel right in front of his eyes. Authors such as Alfred North Whitehead, James Joyce, and T. S. Eliot had begun writing texts that represented enormous changes in style, tone, and content. Further, the audiences who were reading these texts were no longer composed of the elite scions of Edwardian society. In increasing numbers, middle class and even (horrors) working class blue collars began to seek the university degree that they felt sure would be a ticket to a more prosperous life. The problem with this growing mass of would-be-intellectuals was that they had to encounter and digest what to them was a bewildering and vastly confusing array of theories of learning that were heavily dependent on the aesthetically oriented Romantic vision of emotion and psychology that contemporary professors of literature insisted must be mastered prior to tackling the admitted complexities of the texts themselves. It was this required assimilation of subjective and pseudo-scientific notions that Richards was determined to overcome and eliminate.

Richards also took to task the pedagogy that had been transplanted from Germany that required literature students to master history as a prerequisite to reading texts. According to this model if one wished to study Shylock's motivation for his insistence on his pound of flesh from The Merchant of Venice, one first had to absorb the fullness of Jewish culture and anti-Semitism then prevalent in the Elizabethan age. Once one knew all that, then the play itself became quite secondary if not irrelevant.
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Format: Paperback
Routledge should be ashamed to have published such an important text with so many typographical errors. I'd say buy a used copy of the Harvest HBJ edition instead.
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