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.
Its objective is to find how a piece works by using close reading and by analysing the text, but without attending biographycal or sociological matters.
New Criticism and Formalism´s study is based on the relationships between the idea of the text and its form, for this reason it could not be said to be very scientific, so new critics try to make it as a science by means of using technical vocabulary.
American New Criticism attacked the notion of "expressive realism" (literature as the efflux of a noble soul) because they conceived that the author or the sincerity were not the main properties of a text, but its unity and integrity, so they insisted in the fact that the intrinsic meaning of a text should not be confused with the author´s intentions or its affective dimension.
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.
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