In the words of Walter pater, “”Criticism is the art of interpreting art. It serves as an intermediary between the author and the reader by explaining the one to the other. By his special aptitude and training, the critic feels the virtue of a masterpiece, dis engages it, and sets it forth.
Legislative criticism, Descriptive criticism, Romantic criticism, Aesthetic criticism, Neo- classical criticism, Impressionistic criticism and Practical criticism are the seven types of criticism.
Matthew Arnold’s Touchstone Method of Criticism was really a comparative system of criticism. He took selected passages from the modern authors and compared them with selected passages from the ancient authors and thus decided their merits. This method was called Arnold’s Touchstone method.
In his Essay THE FUNCTION OF CRITICISM, T.S.ELIOT discusses the basic concept of literary criticism and its function. He says that the primary function of criticism is an objective and impersonal “Commentation and exposition of works of art by means of written words.”” True criticism is a system of scientific enquiry into the essential spirit of a work of art.
During the 1930’s there emerged in America a group of critics who came to be known as the founders of the so called New criticism. Its pioneer was John Crowe Ransom. These critics declared that if poetry is worth reading at all, it is worth reading as poetry only, not for any purpose beyond it. Their slogan was ‘Poetry is poetry only, and not another thing.””
A critic has to appreciate and evaluate a literary work. A literary critic is a link between the author and the reader. The critic brings out the symbolical, metaphorical, philosophical and psychological connotations of the literary work under review. Thus the critic is a kind of guide and torch –bearer to enlighten the reader.
Critic should be concerned to see that the reader approaches the work under conditions appropriate to it. He should arrive at and express a meaningful judgement of value. A good critic should give his reader “”a few standards to go by.”’
Matthew Arnold says that a good critic should make “” a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world, and thus to establish a current of fresh and true ideas.””
A good critic must be a great scholar, have full authority over the literature in which he specialises. He must also have a highly developed aesthetic sense. He should be absolutely free from any kind of bias. A critic should also equip himself with thorough technical knowledge.
Plato, Aristotle, Stephen Gosson, John Dryden, Matthew Arnold, and T. S. Eliot were the few great critics of the English Literature. They have made a remarkable contribution to the English Literature with their critical works.