Understanding the various aspects of literary criticism

Literary criticism is the notion, or more precisely the field of study which is not addressed as such in secondary literary studies. It teaches about the authors of literature, works, learning elements of literary history and is initiated to the classification of works by genre (epistolary, novel, poetry, theater, autobiography). One does not have to wonder what the essence of criticism is. In order to know more about this subject and you may always refer to Book Reviews and Recommendations. However, if the criticism is not the object of a theoretical approach, at the end of which one wonders what the literary criticism is, one practices it however in the academic form of the composed commentary, the analytical reading. One speaks works, one writes on texts, one thinks about a poem, a scene or a romantic character.

The premise and the trajectory of the course for the first year student

The course, which begins today and is for first year students, is not about critical practice but about critical theory. One will not read a work of Baudelaire, of Victor Hugo. But one will wonder rather how to speak of their works, and even more generally how one organizes the speech on a literary work whatever it is, what the finality of it is. It is well known that literary writings have given rise to all sorts of comments. The only work of Shakespeare thus aroused such a plethora of glosses that a life would scarcely be enough to read them. A critical bibliography of Racine’s works would occupy several volumes. This inflation is dizzying and could end up causing a feeling of discouragement, of inanity.

What is the point?

This superabundant critical activity, which is increasing day by day, is it very useful? And could we not dispense with this long detour? What exactly do we do when we take a critical look at a work? What bases the legitimacy of this discourse? Are there good or bad ways to submit a work to criticism? Or at least how can our speech on a work hope to bring him what he does not have? It is necessary to think of a reflexive act, an act of second degree (secondary?) That we practice since primary school.

The various premise of the word ‘criticism’

But let us first stop with the word itself of “criticism” which has several meanings, several meanings, which do not all agree among themselves. Note that “criticism” is both an adjective and a noun historically and it is first of all an adjective, which comes from the Latin critics of the Greek works. This brings a decisive, crucial change. We thus speak of the critical phase of the disease, or even of the “critical age” to designate the menopause. It will be necessary to keep in mind this term whose meaning does not disappear completely and which remains underlying to the modern senses of the word.

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