American Literary Criticism in the Nineteenth Century Criticism: James Russell Lowell - Essay

Joseph J. Reilly (essay date 1915)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Reilly, Joseph J. “Lowell: The Critic and His Criticism.” In James Russell Lowell as a Critic, pp. 200-14. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915.

[In the following excerpt, Reilly discusses the flaws of Lowell's critical essays, claiming that they were too impressionistic and subjective to meet a strict definition of scholarly criticism.]

Lowell's early critical works have already been discussed. They are worth bearing in mind as eminently characteristic of the mature Lowell. They are discursive, generally vague when the question at issue becomes abstruse, and abound in purple patches. The qualities of the poets discussed are set down without any endeavor to...

(The entire section is 3500 words.)

Richard D. Altick (essay date November 1942)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Altick, Richard D. “Was Lowell an Historical Critic?” American Literature 14, no. 3 (November 1942): 250-59.

[In the following essay, Altick counters the usual claim that Lowell's critical theory lacks historical perspective.]

If,” wrote James Russell Lowell in his essay on Milton, “Goethe was right in saying that every man was a citizen of his age as well as of his country, there can be no doubt that in order to understand the motives and conduct of the man we must first make ourselves intimate with the time in which he lived.”1 The observation is one of many such made in the course of Lowell's critical writings. And the neglect with which...

(The entire section is 3810 words.)