T. S. Eliot’s influence upon Modern Literary Criticism:The Function of Criticism



"A book is not harmless merely because no one is consciously offended by it."-
T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)

According to T. S. Eliot , the function of criticism is the exposition and elucidation of art and also correction of taste, and thereby promoting understanding and enjoyment of art.

A good critic must be impersonal and objective, and must not be guided by his ‘inner voice’, but by authority outside himself. By this he meant tradition. A critic must be learned not only in the literature of his own country but also in the literature of Europe, from Homer to his own day. However, he must not judge the present by the standards of the past, as the requirements of each age are different, and so the canons must change from age to age.

T. S. Eliot
Next, he should have a highly developed ‘sense of fact’. By this, Eliot does not mean biographical or sociological knowledge, but knowledge of the technical details of a poem, its genesis, its setting etc. It is these facts that a critic must use to appreciate a work of art. However, Eliot is against the ‘lemon squeezer’ school of critics.

Practitioners of poetry make the best critics. Such poet critics have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the process of poetic creation, and so they are in the best position to communicate their own understanding to the audience.
Again, comparison and analysis are the chief tools of a critic. He must compare not to pass judgment but to elucidate the qualities of the work.


T. S. Eliot’s influence upon Modern Literary Criticism: Unification of Sensibility and Dissociation of Sensibility




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