René Wellek Robie Macauley - Essay

Robie Macauley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Is ["A History of Modern Criticism"] possible? Can even such a brave and erudite man as René Wellek put the vast and heterogeneous writings of modern literary criticism from 1750 to 1950 in an orderly historical form? Certain critics, for instance, belong more to the history of esthetics than anything else; others border on sociology, psychology, politics, or general cultural observation; and—most baffling of all—literary theory seems to coincide seldom with the kind of literature actually being written in its own time.

It is even difficult to find very many critics who will agree on what criticism is or what purpose it is supposed to serve….

Whatever the critics have lacked...

(The entire section is 1043 words.)