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Against DemocracyLiterary Experience in the Era of Emancipations$
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Simon During

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823242542

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823242542.001.0001

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Literary Criticism's Failure

Literary Criticism's Failure

(p.58) Four Literary Criticism's Failure
Against Democracy

Simon During

Fordham University Press

This chapter gives an account of the antidemocratic and anticapitalist origins of modern literary criticism. It focuses on T.S. Eliot, I.A. Richards and F.R. Leavis arguing that modern techniques of close reading emerged in their work and teaching in the 1920s as an effort to recapture and maintain regimes of experience that had been destroyed by enlightened democratic capitalism. It traces how the original practice and spirit of modern literary criticism was gradually transformed and then forgotten, and makes an elegiac case for its continuing relevance.

Keywords:   Literary criticism, T.S. Eliot, F.R. Leavis, I.A. Richards, conservatism, Leavisism, close reading

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