Modern Literary Criticism : 20th century

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      The most remarkable development in twentieth century prose has been so vast an increase in criticism as to justify the label 'The Age of Criticism' for the modern age. It is no coincidence that T. S. Eliot, the most distinguished poet in twentieth century England is almost as famed for criticism as for verse. There are different schools of criticism. George Saintsbury, Middleton Murry, Herbert Read belong to impressionistic school of criticism pioneered by Pater. Bredley, Ker, Chambers followed impressionistic method supported by scholarship.

The most remarkable development in twentieth century prose has been so vast an increase in criticism as to justify the label 'The Age of Criticism' for the modern age.
Literary Criticism

      Modern literary criticism has developed in various methods. The impulse towards moral evaluation of literature still persists in the criticism of E. R. Leavis, Yvor Winters and even T. S. Eliot (Religion and Literature). Another critical approach in the twentieth century is the psychological approach. Freudian theory of sex and Adler's concept of inferiority complex and Jung's theory of collective unconscious have been applied to literary criticism by I. A. Richards, Edmund Wilson, F. L. Lucas (Literature and Psychology) and Ernest Jones (Hamlet and Oedipus Complex).

      Semantic approach made popular by I. A. Richards (Practical Criticism) is known as new contemporary criticism. According to these critics, the meaning of a poem is made up of matters of form (metre, image, diction) and matters of content (tone, theme) working not separately but together. This demands the close reading of the text of a poem. The central position and many particular applications are to be found in Brooks and Warren's Understanding Poetry, (1938). The Well-wrought Urn by Cleanth Brook and Seven types of Ambiguity by Empson are examples of this type of criticism.

      Stemming largely from Eliot but with strong indebtedness to Richards are the critics who examine literature to find the maintenance of cultural patterns. E. R. Leavis (The Great Tradition) is an important figure in this tradition analysis. Imagery analysis and myth analysis are two other significant critical approaches in modern criticism. Caroline Spurgeon's Shakespeare's Imagery and Clemens Imagery in Shakespeare's Plays, and Mand Baudkin's Archetypal Patterns and Wilson Knights Myth and Miracle are important works of this type.

      Sociological criticism has taken on an important dimension with the Marxist interpretation of social forces. Ralph Fox's The Novel and The People, Caudwell's Studies in a dying Culture show Marxist approach in criticism. Kenneth Burke and William Empson have also contributed to this type of criticism.

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