Winter 1942 • Vol. IV No. 1 Nonfiction |

Cooperative Criticism: A Letter from the Critical Front

Literary criticism is not the contemplation of general principles. It is a practice: the responsible application of principles to specific art. And if we are to have a healthy aesthetic for criticism, even if we are to understand such an aesthetic, it is safer to deduce principles from actual applications by the few who have the skill to practice that rare art rather than to invent principles for unknown others to apply. Though the domain of genuine literary criticism is today about the size of Lichtenstein, it seems to be growing larger. Because of Eliot's example, and particularly under the influence of I. A. Richards, competent practicers of criticism are already at work. Calling it one of the new arts of the 20th Century may not be going too far. The most notable organized attempt to study literary criticism in action today took place at Columbia University, in 1941, during a hot week in September. It was directed by Norman Holmes Pearson of Yale, under the auspices of the En

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