Victorian Critical Theory Criticism: Other Victorian Critics - Essay

T. S. Eliot (essay date 1920)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Eliot, T. S. “Imperfect Critics.” In The Sacred Wood, pp. 17-46. London: Methuen, 1920.

[In the following excerpt, Eliot discusses the critical theories of Algernon Charles Swinburne, George Wyndham, and Charles Whibley.]


Three conclusions at least issue from the perusal of Swinburne's critical essays: Swinburne had mastered his material, was more inward with the Tudor-Stuart dramatists than any man of pure letters before or since; he is a more reliable guide to them than Hazlitt, Coleridge, or Lamb; and his perception of relative values is almost always correct. Against these merits we may oppose two objections:...

(The entire section is 5244 words.)

Geoffrey Tillotson (essay date 1951)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Tillotson, Geoffrey. “Newman's Essay on Poetry: An Exposition and Comment.” In Criticism and the Nineteenth Century, pp. 147-87. N.p.: Archon Books, 1967.

[In the following excerpt, originally published in 1951, Tillotson discusses Newman's influential 1829 essay, “Poetry with Reference to Aristotle's Poetics,” which is informed by John Henry Newman's Evangelical religious beliefs.]

The intellectual range and powers of Newman as a young don are nowhere concentrated more splendidly than in his essay on poetry.1 ‘Poetry with Reference to Aristotle's Poetics’ was furnished in response to a request of the strangely versatile Blanco...

(The entire section is 13716 words.)

Alice R. Kaminsky (essay date 1964)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kaminsky, Alice R. Introduction to Literary Criticism of George Henry Lewes, pp. ix-xxi. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964.

[In the following essay, Kaminsky suggests that Lewes's worth as a literary critic is far greater than his diminishing reputation in the years following his death would indicate.]

Emily Dickinson once remarked that “Fame is a fickle food upon a shifting plate.” When George Henry Lewes died, Matthew Arnold and other eminent Victorians predicted that his fame would endure. Yet curiously enough, one of the most remarkable men of the nineteenth century, esteemed as philosopher, scientist, and critic, is today more readily...

(The entire section is 4306 words.)

René Wellek (essay date 1965)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wellek, René. “English Criticism.” In A History of Modern Criticism: 1750-1950, Volume 3: The Age of Transition, pp. 86-149. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1965.

[In the following excerpt, Wellek describes John Ruskin's literary criticism, which is based on his aesthetic theories on modern painting.]

JOHN RUSKIN (1819-1900)

Ruskin seems hardly to belong to a history of literary criticism. One can of course collect his opinions on poets and writers and come up with a body of pronouncements that, not unexpectedly, reflects the taste of the early Victorian age: Shakespeare is admired for his universality and...

(The entire section is 5553 words.)

Clyde K. Hyder (essay date 1972)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hyder, Clyde K. Introduction to Swinburne as Critic, pp. 1-22. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.

[In the following essay, Hyder contends that Swinburne's critical perspective was informed by his work as a poet.]


A critic of any century is likely to be remembered for his judgment, which should be based on knowledge, and taste. Critical aims, whether professed openly or merely implicit, may differ in emphasis. It has been pointed out that nineteenth-century critics tended to conceive of literature as expressive of an author's ideas and emotions, as a mirror of nature (both human and wild) or reality, as a work of art conforming...

(The entire section is 8745 words.)