René Wellek Roger Sale - Essay

Roger Sale

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In the last fifteen years, René Wellek has become established as the premier historian of modern literary criticism. Before this, though he always spoke mildly and judiciously, Wellek seemed to have an eager eye out for enemies of his favorite ideas: that criticism needs a coherent philosophical base from which to work, that impressionistic criticism and historical relativism are dangerous, and that extrinsic material is usually irrelevant in the understanding of a given work. But since he began work on his massive A History of Modern Criticism, the third and fourth volumes of which are now at hand, Wellek has slowly become convinced that he is really unopposed, and so he has ascended to a height from which he...

(The entire section is 2046 words.)