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Literary criticism or literary studies is the study, evaluation , and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory , which is the philosophical discussion of literature's goals and methods. Though the two activities are closely related, literary critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists. Whether or not literary criticism should be considered a separate field of inquiry from literary theory , or conversely from book reviewing, is a matter of some controversy.

For example, the Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism [1] draws no distinction between literary theory and literary criticism, and almost always uses the terms together to describe the same concept. Some critics consider literary criticism a practical application of literary theory, because criticism always deals directly with particular literary works, while theory may be more general or abstract. Literary criticism is often published in essay or book form.

Literary criticism is thought to have existed as long as literature. In the 4th century BC Aristotle wrote the Poetics , a typology and description of literary forms with many specific criticisms of contemporary works of art. Poetics developed for the first time the concepts of mimesis and catharsis , which are still crucial in literary studies. Plato 's attacks on poetry as imitative, secondary, and false were formative as well.

The Sanskrit Natya Shastra includes literary criticism on ancient Indian literature and Sanskrit drama. Later classical and medieval criticism often focused on religious texts, and the several long religious traditions of hermeneutics and textual exegesis have had a profound influence on the study of secular texts. This was particularly the case for the literary traditions of the three Abrahamic religions : Jewish literature , Christian literature and Islamic literature.

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Literary criticism was also employed in other forms of medieval Arabic literature and Arabic poetry from the 9th century, notably by Al-Jahiz in his al-Bayan wa-'l-tabyin and al-Hayawan , and by Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz in his Kitab al-Badi. The literary criticism of the Renaissance developed classical ideas of unity of form and content into literary neoclassicism , proclaiming literature as central to culture , entrusting the poet and the author with preservation of a long literary tradition.

The birth of Renaissance criticism was in , with the recovery of classic texts, most notably, Giorgio Valla 's Latin translation of Aristotle 's Poetics. The work of Aristotle, especially Poetics , was the most important influence upon literary criticism until the late eighteenth century. Lodovico Castelvetro was one of the most influential Renaissance critics who wrote commentaries on Aristotle's Poetics in In the Enlightenment period s to s , literary criticism became more popular.

During this time period literacy rates started to rise in the public; no longer was reading exclusive for the wealthy or scholarly. With the rise of the literate public and swiftness of printing, criticism arose too. Reading was no longer viewed solely as educational or as a sacred source of religion; it was a form of entertainment. Many works of Jonathan Swift were criticized including his book Gulliver's Travels , which one critic described as "the detestable story of the Yahoos".

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The British Romantic movement of the early nineteenth century introduced new aesthetic ideas to literary studies, including the idea that the object of literature need not always be beautiful, noble, or perfect, but that literature itself could elevate a common subject to the level of the sublime. German Romanticism , which followed closely after the late development of German classicism , emphasized an aesthetic of fragmentation that can appear startlingly modern to the reader of English literature, and valued Witz — that is, "wit" or "humor" of a certain sort — more highly than the serious Anglophone Romanticism.

The late nineteenth century brought renown authors known more for their literary criticism than for their own literary work, such as Matthew Arnold.

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  4. However important all of these aesthetic movements were as antecedents, current ideas about literary criticism derive almost entirely from the new direction taken in the early twentieth century. Early in the century the school of criticism known as Russian Formalism , and slightly later the New Criticism in Britain and in the United States, came to dominate the study and discussion of literature, in the English-speaking world.

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    Lyrical, passionate and poetic. McIntosh's writing is truly compelling. None that I know of have done it with such a natural gift for storytelling.

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    The treasures he finds are gems for any environmental activist in any part of the world. Some of it, I confess, I took with a pinch of impatience. McIntosh writes beautifully about his upbringing on the Isle of Lewis but can arouse irritation when, for example, he interrupts an absorbing account of bringing a stag down from the hill with reflections on the bardic tradition. The message is beautiful and the writing is beautiful.

    The message is that power over the land should be given back to those who live upon it, and McIntosh is a good writer - he is where poetry meets science Although he is not a Gaelic speaker it is clear that he has deep roots in the place [and] has read what Gaelic scholars have to say He weaves in and out between these two issues [Eigg and the superquarry campaigns] in a way that will keep your nose glued to the page, for McIntosh uses a novelist's skills.

    Much of Alastair McIntosh's spirituality comes across as emotional and disordered, perhaps because he is not a polished writer The appeal of Soil and Soul is in its fearless, guileless Highland combativeness against evil and error in both matter and spirit. It sets the soul aflame and the mind a-dancing. Seriously playful, it opens up new avenues of seeing and hearing, poetic and prophetic Its radiance pierces the gloomy winter half-light of nihilistic consumerism.

    Enough flesh on the bone then to sustain us through these love-starved times. O taste and see that God is good! We can debate how far the horrifying events of September 11 have really changed the world What hopefully has happened is that we are all more reflective about what is missing from our lives, our social and political institutions and our tenancy of the planet [but] remember that McIntosh and his colleagues at the Centre for Human Ecology were there first, notwithstanding their expulsion from the University of Edinburgh, an event which he describes in a remarkably charitable way.

    How can people regain their sense of meaning? McIntosh's answers to these questions are perceptive and needed. Read them. Let their essentially spiritual nature influence your own perspectives. And then go out and act for the world. Click here for Amazon. One day it'll be recognised as a classic. His writing, with its lyrical and spiritual power does not demand a shared belief, but a shared sense of values, which I think are hugely relevant today and, in many ways, voice an unspoken cultural yearning in many people. I would be delighted to persuade thousands of people to read buy! Highly recommended! Soil and Soul by Alastair McIntosh is such. It was one of the first that I read as I entered the field hedged in by both ecology and theology. It provided a map for my journey.

    Conversations with the author by e-mail and in person have made a great impact on me. Its thesis is that it is still possible for communities to take on corporate big boys and win