Originally published in 1951, this volume covers the transition period between the years of Renaissance influence and the dawn of 19th Century Romanticism. The book analyses the theories and judgments of various critics and their bearing on literary appreciation. The opening chapter concentrates on the account of French doctrines of the 17th Century which is essential as the necessary background of English critical activities for the best part of two centuries. Later chapters discuss the main lines of the development and the more significant critics.
Table of Contents
1. The Break with Renascence Tradition: New French Influences i) Neo-Classicism ii) More Liberal Doctrines 2. The Transitional Stage: Davenant, Hobbes, Cowley, Sprat and Dryden i) Poetry ii) Prose Style iii) Drama 3. New French Influences: Rymer, Mulgrave, Temple, Wotton, Phillips, Wolseley and Collier i) Influence of Rapin and Boileau ii) Reaction to Perrault and Fontenelle iii) Interest in Early Native Literature iv) Contemporary Problems 4. ‘The Father of English Criticism’ Dryden i) Nature and Art of Poetry ii) Forms of Poetry: Epic iii) Critical Standards and Judgments 5. Neo-Classicism Challenged: Dennis, Addison, Pope, Swift, Welsted and Blackwell 6. The Widening Outlook: Lowth, Young, Gray, the Wartons, Hurd i) Influence of ‘Longinus’ ii) Antiquarian Interests 7. Shakespeare Criticism: Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Johnson, Kames, Mrs. Montagu and Morgann i) Work of Editors ii) Shakespeare Studies 8. The Great Cham of Literature: Johnson i) Critical Standards and Methods ii) Literary Theory 9. Critical Cross-Currents: Fielding, Sheridan, Cowper, Shaftesbury, Hume, Burke, Kames, Reynolds and Beattie i) Littérateurs ii) Philosophers iii) Art Critics iv)Minor Contributors 10. Conclusion
J. W. H. Atkins was a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge and Emeritus Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Aberystwyth
‘…this solid and useful book on this great period in English criticism should have contemporary appeal beyond the classrooms… Professor Atkins’s comments on individual authors and works are always judicious… his history is likely to be permanently valuable.’ The New Statesman
‘The history of criticism is tangled, often repetitive… and Professor Atkins has once more sorted out the threads during a period, with a thoroughness readers of his volume on English Renaissance criticism will recognise…’ The Spectator
‘…a scholar of wide learning and accomplishment…’ Times Literary Supplement