New Criticism´s Principles
When we refer to the
New Criticism we are defining one of the major movements of the middle
of the 20th century.
It is a critical theory that arises from Anglo-American literary criticism over the past fifty years. Many people considers it not as a criticism method, but as the criticism itsself. However, its precepts show that this is not the truth critical position about literature. Its method consists on a close reading emphasizing the text to provide a biographical criticism.
The main characteristics are:
-autonomy of the texts. There is not any relationship between the text and private experiences... If it were some author´s relationship it would be called "intentional fallacy", and if it was with the reader´s response, it would be called "affective fallacy".
-central unity that the reader has to discover by interpreting the text. S/he has to say in what ways each of its parts contributes to this unity. So any judgement to the text, to be valid, has to be based on its total valance.
-they should be the more complex the writer can imagine, and they should totally contribute to the unity, so the work would be better.
-there should be an opposition between all of them, so the novel would become more complex, but there has also to be a simple unified statement / theme: the human problems.
-reader´s method. He must use "closed analysis", that means to look at the grammar, sintax... of the text, and try to find the ambiguity in the words, such as irony, paradox... He has also to find oppositions between the words in the text.
The reader has to mantain himself away from what has been called "stock responses" and "idiosincratic responses", that have to deal with the connotative meanings of the terms and with the affective responses to those words.
RETURN TO INDEX PAGE