Serious literary scholars don’t use New Criticism now, in the same way that serious physicists don’t use the 1930s consensus on the atom to do their work, but they do draw from it when they teach their students how to start analyzing a text.
New Criticism is based in close reading, in delving deeply into a text and unpacking every word, without having to worry too much about what was happening when it was written — which means that when you embrace New Criticism, you can get a lot of good, solid analysis done over the course of a single class period or a single student paper.
I cried when he accidentally injured his girlfriend.
I cried more for Edward than for the bleeding girlfriend, actually, because I could see that it hurt him to hurt her, and I was more interested in his pain than in hers.
And to fail to do so is both childish and gauche, because only philistines think it necessary to reconcile their feelings about a piece of art with their feelings about the people who created it.
But the idea of separating the artist from the art is not a self-evident truth. I loved its spiky early-’90s Tim Burton aesthetics; I loved the sweetness of its story, hiding under so much self-conscious weirdness; and I loved Johnny Depp’s wounded, vulnerable performance as the titular scissor-handed boy, who couldn’t get close to anyone without hurting them.I laughed when Edward accidentally punctured a waterbed in a wordless, humiliated frenzy.Over and over again, we have learned that the people who created the art we love have been accused of monstrous acts.K.’s , but at heart, the dilemma is the same: How do I reconcile aesthetic pleasure with moral disgust? What do I do with art I love that was created by a monster?The text had to stand on its own, and if it didn’t, the New Critics argued, that proved it wasn’t really good art.Essentially, this argument says that the best way to engage with any really good piece of art is to treat it as a transcendent work that can stand on its own outside of history and speak to anyone from any place and time.“I have assumed as axiomatic that a creation, a work of art, is autonomous,” wrote T. “Great poetry [for Eliot] was when the poet managed to eradicate all traces of the individual self from the poem he was writing,” Swift explains.“And just as this was an ideal for the poet, it was also a way for readers to evaluate the poem at hand — not by looking for traces of the author’s life, and not looking for what the author might have intended, but instead seeing it as self-contained and self-referential and separate from the world.” New Criticism emerged around the same time that science was becoming the most prestigious and accepted way of thinking about the world, leaving the arts and humanities looking a little shabby and fuzzy and imprecise by comparison.My hope was that by the end of our conversations, I’d have a better sense of how to solve my problem — and how to deal with all the art created by men who have been accused of monstrous things over the past year of #Me Too. The idea of separating art from artist was one of the major critical tools of the New Criticism of the early 20th century.The New Critics burst onto the scene just as the study of English literature was coming to be seen as worthwhile, rather than as a waste of the attention that should have been paid to the classical literature of antiquity.