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By James Ley

The Critic within the sleek World explores the paintings of six influential literary critics―Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, Matthew Arnold, T.S. Eliot, Lionel Trilling and James Wood―each of whom occupies a different historic second. It considers how those consultant critics have built their public personae, the types of arguments they've got used, and their center rules and philosophies.

Spanning 300 years of cultural history, The Critic within the glossy global considers a number of the ways that literary critics have situated themselves relating to the trendy culture of descriptive feedback. In delivering a lucid account of every critic's imperative rules and philosophies, it considers the position of the literary critic as a public determine, studying him as anyone who's forced to deal with the broader problems with individualism and the social implications of the democratising, secularising, liberalising forces of modernity.

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The critic in the modern world : public criticism from Samuel Johnson to James Wood

The Critic within the sleek global explores the paintings of six influential literary critics―Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, Matthew Arnold, T. S. Eliot, Lionel Trilling and James Wood―each of whom occupies a different ancient second. It considers how those consultant critics have built their public personae, the types of arguments they've got used, and their middle ideas and philosophies.

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It is in this sense that poetry, and writing generally, can never be a straightforwardly confessional medium. Poetry is not an upwelling of personal sentiment, or a direct expression of a private experience; its importance lies in the fact that it is a formal exercise. It is an artificial mediation that externalizes experience, providing the necessary distance which permits judgement and reflection. 90 This is one of the defining tensions in Johnson’s criticism. It is especially evident in his ambivalent attitude towards fiction.

Each informed the others. He approaches each topic from the decisively subjective perspective of a thinking and feeling man. Not only in The Spirit of the Age, but throughout his writings, Hazlitt uses physical details as a novelist might use them, as a kind of shorthand, as metonymies of character. 12 Hazlitt is a central figure in the English Romantic movement. As a young man he was an acquaintance of the Lake Poets. He was deeply embroiled in the political and aesthetic debates of the day. 14 But he is, at the same time, a marginal, incorrigible figure: the most irascible of the Romantics.

46 Poetry is significant, then, because it interests us in other people, because it expands the narrow concerns of the self to accommodate the common experiences of all humankind. The flame represents the combustible imagination and the light of understanding, but it is itself a poetic image that evokes the natural sympathy of one mind for another, the instinctive desire for connection, as flame bends to flame. Hazlitt’s criticism thus stresses the importance of the experience of literature. The neoclassical imperatives for a work to please and instruct are re-conceived in such a way that mere pleasure is replaced with an expansive idea of literary evocation that embraces the full range of emotional experience, while the idea of moral instruction is replaced with the artist’s 46 The Critic in the Modern World responsibility to represent the truth of human nature.

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