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A Critical Note On New Historicism

3099 words - 13 pages

Introduction: The records of literary criticism and theory are almost as old as literature itself. As known, literary criticism is a sort of mental exercise of evaluating, classifying, analyzing, interpreting, judging, and valuing the literary art. This indicates that criticism also includes creative skill to comprehend the literary artist’s work first, and then put forward one’s valid view. In this sense, it is really ‘meta-literature’. The world’s successful critics and theorists are only the renowned literary figures. As Ben Jonson says that “ To judge of poet is only the faculty of poets”. This means that only a writer can understand the mysteries and mental regions of his/her fellow writers and can respond them aptly and effectively.

Ancient Classical Criticism: The earliest proofs of criticism are found in Greek literature. In the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., Athens was the lap of literary enterprises. So the critical activity was first undertaken by Plato and his eternal disciple Aristotle. This preliminary era of criticism is termed as Hellenic, means Greek, period of criticism. Plato’s Republic is looked upon as the first critical book in which he expresses the ideas regarding the literary and poetic process. It is then Aristotle who in real sense commenced the critical journey still potent and pervasive. His Poetics has proved an immortal foundation stone of criticism for the proceeding centuries, and it has caloured thoughts and talents of almost all the critics and theorists irrespective of language differences. The study of the book is inevitable in every literature and for every literary student and scholar. Aristotle develops for the first time the ideas of mimesis and catharsis which are even today the issues of discussion and debate. He not only gives the theory, but also defends poetry from the onslaughts of his master Plato who terms poetic art as lying, imitative and secondary.

Graeco-Roman Criticism: After the Geek masters, there comes glistening stage of criticism known as Graeco-Roman criticism. Although the majority of concepts are derivative and assimilative, yet there are critical thinkers and theorists of real genius whose contribution has a paramount significance. Horace, Quintillian and Longinus are the authentic and penetrating critics of this period. Horace’s Ars Poetica and Longinus’s On Sublime like Aristotle’s Poetics have proved as torch bearers, and their merits and utility have been acknowledged by all the major literary figures.

Renaissance Criticism: With the advent of Renaissance, the critical curiosity accelerates and the enquiry of the antique Greek and Roman founders of creative and critical business also enlarge the horizons of learning. The term Renaissance is described as the birth of the modern world out of the ashes of the Dark Ages; as the discovery of the world and the discovery of man; and the era of the emergence of untrammeled individualism in life, thought, religion and art. In...

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