I.A. Richards' theory of value and its relation to practice in his literary criticism

Talmor, Sascha


Talmor, Sascha (1959) I.A. Richards' theory of value and its relation to practice in his literary criticism.

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I.A. Richards, Lecturer in English Literature in Cambridge, is a many-sided personality who has expressed his various intellectual interests in voluminous writings. Semanticist, educationalist, philosopher, psychologist, and, last but not least, literary critic, he has written on all these subjects separately, though in his two most important books - "Principles of Literary Criticism" and "Practical Criticism"-he attempts to be all these at the same time. But the purposes and the methods of these various disciplines are different and sometimes conflicting. It is this conflict between Richards the exponent of a certain type of psychological aesthetics and Richards the practical literary critic who is not bound by his own theoretical preconceptions that is the central theme of my thesis. I have devoted the first four chapters to an exposition and criticism of Richards' theory of language and his psychological theory of aesthetic value. Having shown that the theory of "Synaesthesis" as a criterion of aesthetic merit implies aesthetic pluralism and is inapplicable in practice, because vacuous, I have tried in Chapter 5 to find Richards' actual standards of aesthetic value as revealed in his own literary criticism. In Chapter 6 I have discussed the nature and function of the aesthetic judgment and have emphasised, as against Richards, its status as a judgment of value and not of psychological fact. In Chapter 7 I have attempted to show that the psychological approach to the problems of aesthetics is not as such to be ruled out as irrelevant; on the contrary, as practised, e.g. by S.Bullough it is worthy of being further developed, because it both offers a comprehensive view of aesthetics, art-criticism and culture, and provides in the principle of "Psychical Distance" an aesthetic principle capable of practical application. The main assumption underlying my critical attitude to the kind of aesthetic theories of which Richards is a typical exponent is that in Aesthetics theory and practice must be connected: Aesthetic theory must begin with an examination of aesthetic judgments, and practical art-criticism - if it is to be valid - must be based on theoretically established criteria of value. If this is so, then the aesthetician's task can be much wider than a "journeyman's". By affirming the1. W.B.Gallie: "The function of philosophical Aesthetics" in Aesthetics and Language ed by W.Elton. (Oxford,Basil Blackwell, 1954)underlying similarity of most great works of art of past cultures, by pointing out the essentially humanistic values of great art, he might perhaps actively contribute to their re-emergence.

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Item TypeThesis (Doctoral)
TitleI.A. Richards' theory of value and its relation to practice in his literary criticism
AuthorsTalmor, Sascha
Uncontrolled KeywordsEnglish Literature; Language, Literature And Linguistics; A; Criticism; His; I; Literary; Literary Criticism; Literary Criticism; Practice; Relation; Richards; Theory; Value



Deposited by () on 31-Jan-2017 in Royal Holloway Research Online.Last modified on 31-Jan-2017


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