The Language of Criticism (Routledge Revivals) (Hardback) book cover

The Language of Criticism (Routledge Revivals)

By John Casey

© 2011 – Routledge

204 pages

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First published in 1966, the Language of Criticism was the first systematic attempt to understand literary criticism through the methods of linguistic philosophy and the later work of Wittgenstein. Literary critical and aesthetic judgements are rational, but are not to be explained by scientific methods. Criticism discovers reasons for a response, rather than causes, and is a rational procedure, rather than the expression of simply subjective taste, or of ideology, or of the power relations of society.

The book aims at a philosophical justification of the tradition of practical criticism that runs from Matthew Arnold, through T.S.Eliot to I.A.Richards, William Empson, F.R.Leavis and the American New Critics. It argues that the close reading of texts moves justifiably from text to world, from aesthetic to ethical valuation. In this it differs radically from the schools of "theory" that have recently dominated the humanities.


'Provided this gets clearance from the philosophers, we shall at last have a compact, cogent and humane justification of criticism as a rational process.' - Christopher Ricks, New Statesman

'Mr Casey has written a highly intelligent, instructive, mind-stretching book.' - David Lodge, Critical Quarterly

'Literary critics will dislike Mr Casey's book for the clarity with which principles are discussed: it is all the more to be welcomed.' - Peter Jones, Philosophy

'Casey's argument is subtle and detailed, and it is one that anyone interested in critical theory should read.' - Colin Falck, The Review

Table of Contents

1. Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Criticism 2. Values 3. Art and Feeling 1 - Some Aestheticians 4. Art and Feeling 2 - T. S. Elliot 5. Style and Feeling: Middleton Murray 6. Reason Defended: Yvor Winters and the Nature of Criticism 7. A 'Science' of Criticim: Northrop Frye 8. Object, Feeling and Judgement: F. R. Leavis 9. Art and Morality

About the Series

Routledge Revivals

Are there elusive titles that you need and have been trying to source for years but thought that you would never be able to find?

Well this may be the end of your quest – here is a fantastic opportunity for you to discover past brilliance and purchase previously out of print and unavailable titles by some of the world’s most eminent academic scholars.

Drawing from over 100 years of innovative, cutting-edge, publishing Routledge Revivals is an exciting new programme whereby key titles from the distinguished and extensive backlist of the many acclaimed imprints associated with Routledge will be re-issued.

The programme draws upon the illustrious backlists of Kegan Paul, Trench & Trubner, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Methuen, Allen & Unwin and Routledge itself.

Routledge Revivals spans the whole of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and includes works by some of the world’s greatest thinkers including Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Simone Weil, Martin Buber, Karl Jaspers and Max Beloff.

If you are interested in Revivals in the Behavioral Sciences, please visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory
PHILOSOPHY / Criticism