New Literary Criticism
Seeking to bring new respect, new theories and philosophies to critical literary scholarship, New Criticism presented critics with a vernacular to isolate and discuss a unified structure of aesthetic quality and apply it to individual works of art. New Criticism is a process of interpretation, a method of reading a text, as much as it is a theoretical endeavor, though. New Critics look for patterns of symbols and metaphors that point toward an underlying sense of unity in form, rhythm, or structure; they expect a work of literature to hang together, to express stability, to cohere. “Poetry..
. depends upon the set of relationships, the structure, which we call the poem” (Penn Warren 990). The most difficult task of the New Critic is discovering and describing the thematic oppositions within a text which it attempts to transcend or resolve. Irony and ambiguity provide most potent forms of this contextual pressure. The most successful literature, therefore, struggles against the resistances of its own materials, its own structure, attempting to win through “to clarity and passion” (Brooks 805).
“Irony as a Principle of Structure” The Critical Tradition. Ed., David H. Richter, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.
Penn Warren, Robert.
“Pure and Impure Poetry” Selected Essays. New York: Vintage Books, 1958. .