John crowe ransom criticism inc

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john crowe ransom criticism inc

Criticism, Inc. by John Crowe Ransom

Something is continually being killed by prose which the poet wants to preserve.

John Crowe Ransom was to the New Critics what Boris Eichenbaum was to Russian Formalism: the guy who sat down and actually articulated what their critical movement was about. Ransom’s manifesto, Criticism, Inc., is (mercifully) pithier than his Russian counterpart, so it’s a smooth read.

Criticism, Inc. lays out what it means to be a critic, and its main drumbeat is to emphasize that most literary scholars of his day are really literary historians. They study the time period around an author and his text, which encapsulates the work in implied meaning, ready to be swallowed by student readers. In other words books become historical artifacts, not living works of art. He reminds us of how the only people who do seemed passionate about a text’s contents are moralists, like humanists or leftists. But those people believe art should be didactic, and judge books along those lines. Ransom rejects all of this. He, in fact, makes a nifty list:

Not Criticism:
1.) Effect on the reader (Affective Fallacy)
2.) Synopsis and paraphrase: Plot is an abstract from content
3.) Historical studies
4.) Linguistic studies
5.) Moral studies
6.) Any other special studies which deal with some abstract or prose content taken out of the work

Ok, but what is criticism then? Criticism, according to the New Critics, studies the interior of a work of art: its machinations, literary devices, unique attributes (especially compared to prose), and artistic design. This is not to say the above list does not matter. But it does mean that that list is subservient to, and supplements, the work itself, which must always be the focus of a critic.

If this sounds similar to Eichenbaum’s Theory and the Formal Method, that’s because it is. In any case, Ransom’s strategy is essentially to embarrass academia by pointing out how everyone is doing criticism but the critical scholars themselves, who seem to be poorly emulating other fields such as history or philosophy. Ransom urges literary studies to do its own thing, and that thing is explore the inner workings of literature.

It’s difficult for me to appraise this argument because of how seminal it is. Almost all literary studies in the US operates within this framework. Later on, usually in late High School or College, we begin to incorporate the methods and critiques of later theoretical schools like Structuralism and Deconstruction, but those are always in opposition to Formalism. Ransom, in the end, achieved his goal.

But, I gotta say, I’m glad he did. Criticsm, Inc. is probably the last work of the Formalists I’m going to read. I’ve imbibed their message and found it persuasive. This does not mean the other schools won’t knock it down a peg or two. But the core principle—that a work of art is autonomous, and an end onto itself—is a fine foundation for literary studies. Everything that comes after is augmentation.
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Complete LITERARY CRITICISM for NTA Net English by Vineet Pandey (6 NET 2 JRF 15 SET Qualified)

Criticism, Inc. By John Crowe Ransom Perhaps I use a distasteful figure, but I have the idea that what we need is Criticism, Inc., or Criticism, Ltd. The principal.
John Crowe Ransom

John Crowe Ransom

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Studies in the technique of the art belong to criticism certainly. They cannot belong anywhere else, because the technique is not peculiar to any prose materials discoverable in the work of art, nor to anything else but the unique form of that art. A very large volume of studies is indicated by this classification. They would be technical studies of poetry, for instance, the art I am specifically discussing, if they treated its metric; its inversions, solecisms, lapses from the prose norm of language, and from close prose logic; its tropes; its fictions, or inventions, by which it secures "aesthetic distance" and removes itself from history; or any other devices, on the general understanding that any systematic usage which does not hold good for prose is a poetic device. A device with a purpose: the superior critic is not content with the compilation of the separate devices; they suggest to him a much more general question. The critic speculates on why poetry, through its devices, is at such pains to dissociate itself from prose at all, and what it is trying to represent that cannot be represented by prose.

Critic speak is tough, but we've got you covered.

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Janna H Hooke.

Post a Comment. Tuesday, April 14, "Criticism, Inc. Ransom remained at Vanderbilt until , when he accepted a position at Kenyon College in Ohio. There he founded the prestigious literary quarterly the Kenyon Review and edited it until his retirement in He died in It will never be a very exact science, or even a nearly exact one. Perhaps I use a distasteful figure, but I have the idea that what we need is Criticism, Inc.

Very helpful! Can you elucidate "communication and the artist" by I. Richards too?? Summary of the essay for Students of Indian Universities. With a number of other writers they formed a group, known as the Southern Agrarians or the Fugitives. The Fugitive is the title of the magazine edited by them. There is some irony in the stand taken by Ransom.

1 COMMENTS

  1. Baudilio G. says:

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