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In his study Practical Criticism (1929), I. A. Richards pioneered the technique of close reading, pointing out that the language of the single poems could be more significant than information on the lives and historical contexts of their authors. What scholars of poetry and literature should study, therefore, is the language of the single work of art which is seen as a completed whole whose meaning is to be found within itself. The language of the poem, rather than the author's biography or his historical context, communicate the work's meaning to the reader. Richards' s approach proved influential until the late 1950s and became an important influence for New Criticism. It has since been challenged as it cuts the links between literary production and/or interpretation and the socio-discursive contexts within which such production and/or interpretation occur.
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