What is the basic or key difference between Literary Review and Literary Criticism?  

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jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your question is probably tougher than you think.  As far as I know, there is no formal distinction between Literary Criticism and Literary Review; in fact, most works of Criticism contain some amount of Review, and most Reviews contain some Criticism.

Literary Criticism has been defined as the "study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature" (see link below).  So, if you were writing a work of Literary Criticism about Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, you would want to explain the meaning of the book and express some kind of evaluation of it (that is, does the book achieve its aims in an effective manner).

In a Book Review, you need not be so "critical" and interpretive.  It is enough if you give the prospective readers some general feeling for the book's subject, characters, setting, etc., and help them decide if they would like to read the book. 

Many book "reviewers," however, engage in Literary Criticism.  Take a look at some of the "book reviews" in the New York Times Book Review and you will see what are really full-blown works of literary criticism, full of analysis, evaluation, comparison to other works, historical context, etc.