This book is an historical survey of some important theories of literary criticism, which is designed to introduce more advanced students of English and other European literature to the nature and origin of these theories and ultimately to help them clarify their own attitudes to literature. Professor Ruthven's approach is to bring together and analyse examples of the way in which major writers and critics have dealt with the critical issues raised by different kinds of writing. He emphasizes throughout the variety of critical stances taken at different times in response to the challenge posed by highly original works and he draws on a large number of instances from all the major periods of English literature. The examination of the historical material presented here should encourage students of English, as well as other modern European literatures, to recognise and re-appraise their own critical assumptions.
'Ruthven's range is so impressive, his definitions of ideas so incisive, his discussions so logical and clear that not only postgraduates, but others both younger and older, will find his book as delightful as it is useful.' J. M. Cocking, French Studies ' ... an extraordinary assemblage of quotations from a huge number of sources (mainly Classical and English), linked by lucid, cogent and often provocative and witty prose.' Notes and Queries