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Forming the Critical Mind: Dryden to Coleridge

Forming the Critical Mind: Dryden to Coleridge

by James Engell


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James Engell has prepared the first broad treatment of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century British criticism to appear in a generation, presenting the views of scores of writers on a variety of questions, many of which remain live issues today.

While offering major reevaluations of Dryden, Hume, and Johnson, Engell demonstrates that eighteenth-century criticism cannot be represented by just a few major critics or by generalizations about Augustan taste, neoclassical rules, or “common sense.” He presents a complex and highly varied body of theoretical writing and practical application by dozens of critics including Rymer, Addison, Welsted, Ramsay, Hurd, Gerard, Newbery, Campbell, Blair, Beattie, Jeffrey, and Hazlitt. He also analyzes the continued relevance of their critical work, drawing connections with modern writers such as Eliot, Frye, Saussure, Barthes, Culler, Bakhtin, and Lévi-Strauss.

Engell concludes with a stimulating essay on the nature and function of the critical process itself. For students and scholars conversant with modern critical theory, Forming the Critical Mind will offer some surprising and interesting comparisons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674309432
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 06/26/1989
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.38(h) x (d)

About the Author

James Engell is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and co-editor of the Bollingen edition of the Biographia Literaria for the Collected Works of Coleridge.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: The Originating Force of Eighteenth-Century Criticism
  • Part 1: Metamorphoses

    • 1. Practical Theorist: Dryden’s “Variety of Models”
    • 2. The Paradox of Refinement: Progress and Decline in Literature
    • 3. “So Far Retir’d from Happy Pieties”: The Rise of Modern Myth

  • Part 2: Judgment and Values, Literary and Social

    • 4. Non-Disputandum: Hume’s Critique of Criticism
    • 5. Estrangement: The Problem of Ethics and Aesthetics
    • 6. Kinds, Canons, and Readers

  • Part 3: Methods and Aims

    • 7. Johnson and the Contraries of Criticism
    • 8. The New Rhetoricians: Semiotics, Theory, and Psychology
    • 9. What Is Poetry?

  • Janus: Criticism and the Contemporary
  • Notes
  • Index

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