The Language of Criticism
By John Casey
Routledge – 1966 – 206 pages
First published in 1966, the Language of Criticism was the first systematic attempt to understand literary criticism through the methods of linguistic philosophy and the later work of Wittgenstein. Literary critical and aesthetic judgements are rational, but are not to be explained by scientific methods. Criticism discovers reasons for a response, rather than causes, and is a rational procedure, rather than the expression of simply subjective taste, or of ideology, or of the power relations of society.
The book aims at a philosophical justification of the tradition of practical criticism that runs from Matthew Arnold, through T.S.Eliot to I.A.Richards, William Empson, F.R.Leavis and the American New Critics. It argues that the close reading of texts moves justifiably from text to world, from aesthetic to ethical valuation. In this it differs radically from the schools of "theory" that have recently dominated the humanities.
'Provided this gets clearance from the philosophers, we shall at last have a compact, cogent and humane justification of criticism as a rational process.' New Statesman
'Mr Casey has written a highly intelligent, instructive, mind-stretching book.' Critical Quarterly
'Literary critics will dislike Mr Casey's book for the clarity with which principles are discussed: it is all the more to be welcomed.' Philosophy
'Casey's argument is subtle and detailed, and it is one that anyone interested in critical theory should read.' The Review
1. Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Criticism 2. Values 3. Art and Feeling 1 - Some Aestheticians 4. Art and Feeling 2 - T. S. Elliot 5. Style and Feeling: Middleton Murray 6. Reason Defended: Yvor Winters and the Nature of Criticism 7. A 'Science' of Criticim: Northrop Frye 8. Object, Feeling and Judgement: F. R. Leavis 9. Art and Morality