Winter 1949 • Vol. XI No. 1 The Critic's Business: By Four of the Critics |

A Note on Autotelism

Without The Kenyon Review in the past ten years I doubt that we should have the New Criticism; for it was Mr. Ransom who created its myth by giving it a name. Without the myth there would not now be the decline in public favor; the decline is only a revolt against the myth. These observations ought to indicate that I do not know what the New Criticism is, that I merely acknowledge the presence of the myth. Mr. Ransom's great and actual service to us, in this period, has been his own restless exploration of the grounds of criticism and his hospitality to other writers of various points of view who have produced evidence of being seriously engaged. If the New Criticism differs radically from the best Old Criticism, it differs at its own peril; nothing wholly new would seem to be critically possible at a late stage of culture, such as we find ourselves in. The new thing may be the New Literature (how new it is I do not know), and a criticism sprang up to show us how to read it. Who the

Already have an account? Log in

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece

Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.