Literary criticism can be no more than a reasoned account of the feeling produced upon the critic by the book he is criticizing. Criticism can never be a science: it is, in the first place, much too personal, and in the second, it is concerned with values that science ignores. The touchstone is emotion, not reason. We judge a work of art by its effect on our sincere and vital emotion, and nothing else. All the critical twiddle-twaddle about style and form, all this pseudoscientific classifying and analyzing of books in an imitation-botanical fashion, is mere impertinence and mostly dull jargon.
Best Quotes about Criticism
To criticize is to appreciate, to appropriate, to take intellectual possession, to establish in fine a relation with the criticized thing and to make it one's own.
Since we cannot attain unto it, let us revenge ourselves with railing against it.
Montaigne, Michel Eyquem De
Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world -- in order to set up a shadow world of meanings.
He who throws dirt always loses ground.
Any authentic work of art must start an argument between the artist and his audience.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
There is an air of last things, a brooding sense of impending annihilation, about so much deconstructive activity, in so many of its guises; it is not merely postmodernist but preapocalyptic.
Criticism, that fine flower of personal expression in the garden of letters.
No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy.
Olivier, Sir Lawrence
Never retract, never explain, never apologize; get things done and let them howl.
A reader who quarrels with postulates, who dislikes Hamlet because he does not believe that there are ghosts or that people speak in pentameters, clearly has no business in literature. He cannot distinguish fiction from fact, and belongs in the same category as the people who send checks to radio stations for the relief of suffering heroines in soap operas.
I know I'm never as good or bad as one single performance. I've never believed in my critics or my worshippers, and I've always been able to leave the game at the arena.
Criticism is a misconception: we must read not to understand others but to understand ourselves.
Cioran, E. M.
The pleasure we feel in criticizing robs us from being moved by very beautiful things.
La Bruyere, Jean De
If I make a move, like raise my eyebrows, some critic says I'm doing Nicholson. What am I supposed to do, cut off my eyebrows?
In judging others, folks will work overtime for no pay.
Carruthers, Charles Edwin
Hardly a book of human worth, be it heaven's own secret, is honestly placed before the reader; it is either shunned, given a Periclean funeral oration in a hundred and fifty words, or interred in the potter's field of the newspapers back pages.
When everyone is against you, it means you are absolutely wrong -- or you are absolutely right.
Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead.
The rule in carving holds good as to criticism; never cut with a knife what you can cut with a spoon.
Critics! Those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame.
Self-laudation abounds among the unpolished, but nothing can stamp a man more sharply as ill-bred.
Critics are usually kinder to cheaper movies than to those they perceive to be big Hollywood releases. They cut you a lot more slack if you spend less money, which makes no sense.
On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one's mind. It becomes a pleasure.
The good critic is he who relates the adventures of his soul among masterpieces.
A louse in the locks of literature.
Tennyson, Lord Alfred
They will say you are on the wrong road, if it is your own.
What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.
That is what the highest criticism really is, the record of one's own soul. It is more fascinating than history, as it is concerned simply with oneself. It is more delightful than philosophy, as its subject is concrete and not abstract, real and not vague. It is the only civilized form of autobiography.
The strength of criticism lies in the weakness of the thing criticized.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
I review novels to make money, because it is easier for a sluggard to write an article a fortnight than a book a year, because the writer is soothed by the opiate of action, the crank by posing as a good journalist, and having an air hole. I dislike it. I do it and I am always resolving to give it up.
Neither praise or blame is the object of true criticism. Justly to discriminate, firmly to establish, wisely to prescribe, and honestly to award. These are the true aims and duties of criticism.
Simms, William Gilmore
We might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing, and that we should be none the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel an emotion about it, for criticizing our own minds in their work of criticism.
Eliot, T. S.
Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship.
Reviewers are usually people who would have been, poets, historians, biographer, if they could. They have tried their talents at one thing or another and have failed; therefore they turn critic.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Doubtless criticism was originally benignant, pointing out the beauties of a work rather that its defects. The passions of men have made it malignant, as a bad heart of Procreates turned the bed, the symbol of repose, into an instrument of torture.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
Social criticism begins with grammar and the re-establishing of meanings.
In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, conformable.
Post-modernism has cut off the present from all futures. The daily media add to this by cutting off the past. Which means that critical opinion is often orphaned in the present.
Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you're two steps ahead!
A man must serve his time to every trade save censure -- critics all are ready made.
Not even the most powerful organs of the press, including Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times, can discover a new artist or certify his work and make it stick. They can only bring you the scores.
As a work of art it has the same status as a long conversation between two not very bright drunks.
It is just as hard to do your duty when men are sneering at you as when they are shouting at you.
Wilson, Woodrow T.
A sneer is the weapon of the weak.
Lowell, James Russell
Criticism is prejudice made plausible.
H. L. Mencken
The literary critic, or the critic of any other specific form of artistic expression, may detach himself from the world for as long as the work of art he is contemplating appears to do the same.
The author himself is the best judge of his own performance; none has so deeply meditated on the subject; none is so sincerely interested in the event.
If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water's edge
The critical opinions of a writer should always be taken with a large grain of salt. For the most part, they are manifestations of his debate with himself as to what he should do next and what he should avoid.
Auden, W. H.
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